… Although the number of college graduates increased about 29% between 2001 and 2009, the number graduating with engineering degrees only increased 19%, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Education. The number with computer and information-sciences degrees decreased 14%. Since students typically set their majors during their sophomore year, the first class that chose their major in the midst of the recession graduated this year.
This student switched majors when she found an engineering lab project too darn hard.
To avoid getting an “incomplete” for the course, Ms. Zhou withdrew before the lab ended. Since switching majors she has earned almost straight A’s instead of the B’s and C’s she took home in engineering.
- … introductory courses are often difficult and abstract…
- … high schools didn’t prepare them for the level of rigor in the introductory courses…
- … Science classes may also require more time … math and science—though not engineering—students study on average about three hours more per week than their non-science-major counterparts.
Overall, only 45% of 2011 U.S. high-school graduates who took the ACT test were prepared for college-level math and only 30% of ACT-tested high-school graduates were ready for college-level science, according to a 2011 report by ACT Inc.
One solution is to make STEM classes
easier more accessible.
Educators have tried to tackle the attrition problem with new programs that they say make engineering more accessible. In 2003, Georgia Institute of Technology split its introductory computer-science class into three separate courses. One was geared toward computer science majors, another to engineering majors, and a third to liberal arts, architecture and management majors. The liberal arts course cut down on computer-science theory in favor of practical tasks like using programming to manipulate photographs, says computer science professor Mark Guzdial. Since the switch, about 85% of students pass, he says.
I don’t understand how this information supports the point that STEM-related jobs don’t pay enough:
That may partly be because the jobs don’t pay enough to attract or retain top graduates. Science, technology, engineering and math majors who stay in a related profession had average annual earnings of $78,550 in 2009, but those who decided to go into managerial and professional positions made more than $102,000, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
What is the difference between a science grad who works in a “related profession” vs. one who is in a “professional position”? In almost any line of work, managers and professionals earn more than other workers.