Students know STEM majors are hard, just not THAT hard

by Grace

It looks like a headline from The Onion.

Math, Science Popular Until Students Realize They’re Hard

Math and science majors are popular until students realize what they’re getting themselves into, according to new research….

The researchers found that while math and science majors drew the most interest initially, not many students finished with degrees in those subjects. More students dropped out of math and science majors and fewer students switched into them than any other area of study, including professional programs, social sciences, humanities and business.

They knew it was going to be hard, but just not that hard.

The survey results also showed that the students who dropped out didn’t do so because they discovered an unexpected amount of the work. In fact, students who expressed interest initially anticipated more work than other majors.

The students switched out because they were dissatisfied with their grades. “Students knew science was hard to begin with, but for a lot of them it turned out to be much worse than what they expected,” said Todd R. Stinebrickner, one of the paper’s authors. “What they didn’t expect is that even if they work hard, they still won’t do well.”

One comment from this article made a good point that students often think that they should go with their “natural” talent rather than struggling with a subject that is not their strength.

… the lower curves across STEM majors push students to other majors where the higher average GPAs make them think they’re better. For example, if I get a B in English and a C in Math, then that would encourage me to study English where my strengths are. That’s the key. The average science GPA at my school is 2.9, the average humanities GPA is 3.3. Case closed.

Or maybe they simply do not want to work that hard.

Reminder:  ‘math skills are correlated to higher earnings’

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