Have you heard any of the latest myths about college degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)? Misinformation abounds about the hottest academic and career fields. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to debunk the most common ones with raw facts. But it’s essential to set the record straight as millions of young adults and mid-career professionals prepare to tackle the challenge of earning a degree in one of the four STEM areas of study.
Believe it or not, some give up on obtaining a degree before they check out the funding situation. There are several myths related to student loans. Others focus on the academic qualifications for getting into top programs, social life while in school, the need for advanced degrees, and where the best post-college jobs are. Review the following STEM myths before embarking on an educational or career path in any of the four fields.
MYTH 1 = Few Can Get Loans to Cover All Their Education Expenses
There’s plenty of money available, especially for applicants who have cosigners. Most prospective students who qualify academically for a four-year college program can get the funding they need. If you are a parent, friend, employer, or relative who would like to help a qualified student get a loan, you can serve as a cosigner on the application. Not only do people with cosigners have a higher probability of obtaining approval, but they can also get lower interest rates on the financing. Over the life of the loan agreement, a more favorable rate can save the graduate thousands of dollars.
MYTH 2 = Only Geniuses Get STEM Degrees
Students of all abilities can succeed. This piece of misinformation is easy to correct. Pupils work hard to earn diplomas in math, engineering, technology, and the sciences, but there are no requirements for genius status. Those in the four majors are no more intellectually advanced than those studying business, history, English, foreign languages, or other subjects. You just need to work hard!
MYTH 3 = Students Can Forget About Having a Social Life
Course requirements can be demanding, but there’s enough time for social activities. Just because the coursework is demanding does not mean social life is off-limits. Even pre-med candidates can structure their schedules to include several hours of free time per day. Young adults in engineering and similar majors need careful planning to allow for an active social life, but the task is easy. Most STEMmers put in their homework hours each evening and save blocks of time for special weekend activities.
MYTH 4 = You Need a Master’s Degree to Get a Good Job
Most STEM-focused graduates start their careers immediately after college. It’s true that some STEMmers choose to earn master’s degrees in their chosen field of study, but the majority do not. Many college grads go directly to work because there are many openings for qualified candidates, entry-level pay is better than average, and jobs exist in many fields. Remember that working adults can earn graduate degrees after working for a few years in their chosen discipline. Attending a graduate program is sometimes necessary for those who want to get doctorate degrees. But there’s no need to take additional courses after college to find an excellent job.
MYTH 5 = 99% of Jobs Are in IT and the Corporate World
Grads work in education, the non-profit sector, and many other areas. Many graduates in the four STEM majors go into education, particularly at the college or university level. Others decide to work for non-profits, enter government service, set up consulting practices, or form partnerships with other professionals. While IT companies hire many engineers and tech-oriented grads, many career paths are available for young adults with four-year degrees in any of the four STEM-related academic areas.
Hopefully this has helped you learn more about common misconceptions as you get on the fast track to your future!