Get the Skills Even If You Don't Get the Degree
Students might want to consider majoring in STEM studies in college even if they don’t end up working specifically in a STEM field. IEEE Spectrum Forecasters say, “STEM fields encourage critical thinking, development of problem-solving skills, and other skills applicable throughout life—regardless of future jobs."
But even with a useful degree and all the encouragement, there is a “leak" factor. People become dissatisfied with their job for one reason or another—bad management, distance from home and hiring freezes for example. Women, in particular, may drop out of their field after receiving the degree due to the feeling of isolation that comes with being the only woman in a department.
And that’s where the importance of a Liberal Arts education comes in. Spellman and other STEM-strong colleges also understand and value Liberal Arts programs. Liberal Arts programs “emphasize the skills … critical thinking, problem-solving, quantitative reasoning, communication skills."
IEEE Spectrum contributing editor Robert N. Charette agrees. “Everyone needs a solid grounding in science, engineering, and math," he writes. “To fill that shortage, you don’t necessarily need a college or university degree in a STEM discipline, but you do need to learn those subjects, and learn them well, from childhood until you head off to college or get a job."
Whether or not graduates decide to go into a STEM field, students should study skills outside a specific field to succeed in the working world. The practical business skills learned from a Liberal Arts education are just as crucial to implementing world-improving ideas, and a STEM degree doesn’t guarantee a job or a certain salary. Students should complement STEM studies with other work. They will come out with a better general business sense and can still advance if their STEM degree doesn’t fulfill them.