STEM Education not so Dangerous

shutterstock_129715637Recently I have read several articles about how our country is going to the crapper because everyone is pushing STEM education and not the humanities.   I am here to say that I don’t think the problem is STEM education. I honestly believe that STEM is what is needed for the future, however, you must combine that with a well rounded education in all fields. Students who graduate from the University of Mary Washington Computer Science Department constantly get praised for their speaking and writing skills in addition to their technical skills. Throughout their academic career our students practice not just technical skills but everyday skills they need to succeed in their post-graduate careers. They do not only practice those skills in CPSC courses but in a variety of courses in most disciplines, including humanities.

Now while my students practice a variety of skills in multiple disciplines, including the humanities, I see so many humanities majors avoid any kind of STEM classes and in fact they can graduate with a minimum of 12 credits in these classes. If these students expect to get a good paying job and survive in an ever-changing technology world I find them to be living in the “I deserve” fantasy world.

While STEM students need the humanities, humanities need STEM. Students need to be technologically savvy and have a solid understanding of some of the STEM principles. Now, many of my colleagues may be screaming that how dare I say this but I see students who graduate with certain degrees either not finding a job because they are not qualified or have no specific skillset that makes them stand out. Or these students work at jobs that I believe are below their potential and they do too!

Over the last five years I have rented multiple cars from car rental companies to travel to conferences for work. 95% of the time when I go to get the car the person behind the counter has told me they graduated from UMW in major XYZ (Not STEM).  Yes, after the first two times going and finding UMW graduates working there I started to keep an excel spreadsheet of prior UMW students working there and what there majors were.

These students were good students, they have said this was the only job they could get and they believed they would have more opportunity upon graduating. I don’t think they have to be STEM majors but I did talk to them about what STEM classes they took. Each said minimal, for a variety of reasons many being “they were not good at Math, Science, CPSC or something close to that”  and they believed that a college education (any kind) was enough to get a good paying job. Eighty-percent of the post-graduates I have talked with a non-STEM degree are back taking STEM related classes and learning specific skills that will move them, hopefully, in a new career direction, because as one person said “this is not a career, this is a job.”

Once again if people are going to bash STEM maybe they need to look at the other side of the coin.  I am not saying everyone has to major in STEM but to ignore them is just as dangerous as ignoring the humanities.

Next Up—–The Post Baccalaureate and Why so many people come back for CPSC.