In recent times we've seen enrollment in STEM (Science technology engineering and math) majors plummet. Even as the need for professional in these areas reaches an all time high (with no sign of stopping) students are still reluctant to enter into these arenas. Why? Honestly I think it's because the major is hard. In all honesty - my computer science education felt much more akin to the experience other report back from professional school (med/law) than the average undergraduate experience. At the UW I worked twice as hard as my counterparts in business/psychology etc. Call it major-arrogance, but that's what I observed then and see in most schools to this day. So, from a students perspective, why should I forgo my golden party years in favor of a monitor tan?
When graduation came around - I had several companies submitting competing offers and at the end of the day doubled some of my peers' salaries.
Luckily - at least some of the media is taking notice. Fellow blogger Alfred Thompson recently wrote about a few articles addressing this issue
. Hopefully as the coverage grows - this concept will move into the mainstream of student consciousness. The statistics prove out this anecdote:
On this list from CNN the top earner is Chemical Engineering, followed by Computer engineering, followed by electrical engineering, then computer engineering, then mechanical engineering. I do see a trend! All in all (at least according to this list). Overall the majors on this list - STEM made 51k average and the rest made 35k on average. So, I guess you could answer the "why STEM?" question with "cause you'll make way more money". Nearly 50% more in fact.
So that the micro-econ section for the day. How about macro? As the up and coming economies of the world began to acquire the necessary financial base to fund more competitive challengers to the US in the idea economy (inventions/new companies/science) we're screwed. We have the money now - just not enough intellectual horsepower to make use of it. Other countries (pretty much every other country) is beating out the US in every scholastic endeavor - especially in the STEMs field. So, as time moves one we'll loose our hold as the world's intellectual powerhouse and slip silently into the abyss that is international anonymity (looking at you Britannica).
"Save STEM or watch American Fail - It doesn't get more blunt that that!" - Alfred Thompson