If you’ve been in any type of schooling for the past decade or so, you’ve probably heard the acronym “STEM” get thrown around like hotcakes. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and is said to be the holy grail of perspective careers these days. The Obama administration pushed for young people to go into STEM through their “Education to Innovate” campaign, and it seems like the whole country is on a STEM craze. Now, don’t get me wrong—STEM fields are extremely important, especially with technological and scientific advancements being made consistently. STEM fields have some of the biggest job growth rates, and are often reported to have higher salaries than certain humanities based counterparts.
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With all this in mind, it sounds relatively harmless to push for the nation’s youth to go into STEM more than ever, right? Well, it is… most of the time. The only problem the STEM forward culture has created is this belief that anything other than STEM is stupid, old, and unnecessary. It has created a culture where the “smart” kids in high school are the ones that understand science like it’s preschool material, and can do math problems like they get paid to. It’s created a culture where excellence in the humanities is not seen as equal to excellence in STEM, because the humanities are purely “subjective and fluffy and based on opinions, not facts”. This is where the efforts bother me, because more people are seeing social sciences and liberal arts as less important to the progression of society. For society to be best off, we need to have a combination of humanities scholars and STEM scholars. Everyone’s minds work differently, and all academic success should be celebrated equally.
Why is an A+ in Chemistry more valuable than an A+ in English? Sometimes, the message can be lost and taken as a push for everyone to go into STEM. Students should follow their talents, passions, and dreams—all with a reasonable goal, of course. This article isn’t meant to say that students should blindly follow whatever passions they might have. Instead, it’s meant to say that students should examine their goals, skills, talents, and desires—and go for a career that would be practical and best suited for them individually. After all, not everyone is meant for a STEM field, ya know? And that’s completely okay.
Neha Lund is a rising senior at Manalapan High School who is passionate about politics, feminism, education, and leadership. She plans to double major in Economics and Political Science, with an intent to go to Law School or work for a non-profit. She is very involved in Junior States of America, loves trying new food, and spends her time calling congressional offices to support youth leadership campaigns.