When you think of the word STEM, it’s highly unlikely that anything dealing with college would come to mind. However, this term is causing quite a stir across colleges and universities around the country and with good reason–namely, the need for students to pursue these types of majors. The need for people trained in this discipline has become so great that even President Barack Obama has contributed his time and effort towards boosting publicity for STEM majors in order to gain more media attention.
What Are STEM Majors?
STEM is short for the following: “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.” Despite the fact that there are tons of job openings in all of these fields, there are not enough qualified candidates for employers to hire. Needless to say, the work done in the industries revolving around STEM fields is very important to developing various technologies, advancements and other concepts that society relies on.
Why the Lack of Interest in STEM Majors?
The lack of professionals in the workforce is one of the main reasons why colleges and universities are doing what they can to attract more students to these majors. Sure, there are college students actively majoring in the STEM disciplines but the issue is that the numbers aren’t sufficient enough to fulfill the job openings. Why? Research done by educators and other firms have shown that one of the most common reasons is that the degree programs STEM majors come with are very challenging and time consuming to complete. Even though there are plenty of opportunities career-wise, a majority of students simply don’t want to take on such a difficult major or face the heavy coursework. One approach some schools have implemented includes restructuring the curriculum and program requirements for students in this major. The goal is to simplify the courses as much as possible within these fields. The hope is that the coursework will become more accessible and remove the stress factor, improving students’ odds of passing.
Another reason for the lack of general interest is the fact that many college students aren’t even aware that the job prospects for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math are so promising. As a result, many colleges and universities are working to promote and highlight the perks that come with pursuing careers that can only be obtained through STEM majors.
What makes this issue so important in America is that the lack of trained professionals in STEM majors could potentially cause the country to continue supporting and even expand its outsourcing needs to countries like China and India–known for their STEM-savvy workforce.
What’s Being Done?
Aside from reorganizing certain degree programs and being better about informing students about their career choices, policymakers are getting into the mix by proposing better teaching and recruiting tactics, while many colleges and universities with STEM majors have been toying with the idea of lowering tuition for students that pursue these fields. Scholarships and grant programs are also beginning to offer free funds for school specifically for students in STEM majors.