6 April 2016
STEM: The Better Path
(Future college student considering STEM vs. Liberal Arts, image courtesy me)
College can be separated into two disciplines. The first, more traditional type of degrees available are in the Liberal Arts sector. Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, known as STEM, fill the remaining degrees. The two fields differ greatly in what goals they teach and achieve. Liberal Arts education stresses the importance of critical thinking and learning for your passion, not for money. Money isn’t irrelevant, when employers were surveyed about the skills they wanted in employees, 93 percent answered “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.” This is evidence that the skills of Liberal Arts major is important for employers. However, STEM majors have an easier time finding careers. STEM majors have a better degree than Liberal Arts majors because not only do they learn vocational skills, but they also have the critical thinking skills needed to succeed.
The STEM field is, at the surface, the more practical of the two fields. Liberal Arts is much more abstract. STEM deals with concepts that can be generally expressed with numbers or qualitative measures. Liberal Arts works with concepts like the arts and humanities while STEM works with much more solid concepts, like math and engineering. Concepts taught in STEM are more easily applied to finding a job. While in Liberal Arts, what is learned does not precisely apply to jobs and job skills. If you major in Engineering you could easily become an engineer. If you major in history it less likely that you would become a historian. Job accessibility is one of the benefits that STEM holds over Liberal Arts.
Another benefit STEM has over Liberal Arts is the fact that it includes versatile learning. Not only do STEM majors learn a vocation, but many of them pick up on the benefits of Liberal Arts classes. If you are majoring in Liberal Arts it would make little sense to take STEM courses because they neither supplement your degree nor allow you to work in that vocation. If a STEM major takes Liberal Arts classes, they can learn additional problem solving skills and critical thinking. Liberal Arts majors have no benefits from wasting time, money, and credits on STEM classes, as they will not be working in that vocation without that STEM degree and if they have a STEM degree then they are no longer a Liberal Arts major.
Defenders of Liberal Arts majors, like the journalist, Mark McNutt, would talk about the not so readily apparent benefits of the Liberal Arts major. In his piece he talks about how more Liberal Arts majors are getting jobs relevant to their fields. He presents multiple statistics, some of which contradict each other. In general though all fields are growing due to an improving economy. If the entire job market is improving that also means that STEM is also benefiting not just Liberal Arts.
Another argument would be about how Liberal Arts is about pursuing your passion while STEM is the shallow search for more money. While it can be true that some STEM majors are only in it for the money, most STEM majors are in their field because that it their passion. It’s possible to make the argument that some Liberal Arts majors are in it for the money. When someone hears statistics, like the fact that 1 in 3 of the world’s richest people have a Liberal Arts major, it would be easy to think one could make money with a Liberal Arts major. Both types of majors generally are in their major because they wish to learn.
Money is not entirely out of the question. The decision to go to college itself is one that is heavily reliant on money. The cost of college is probably one of the first questions. Getting a four year degree leaves the average person with $30,000 or more in debt. The next question would be improved earnings. It’s shown that on average college graduates make as much as $600,000 more in lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Either STEM or Liberal Arts that is a very impressive margin. However those with STEM majors are more likely to find a job than those with Liberal Arts majors. This means that to get these improved wages, you have to get a job first. STEM is the superior route for higher wages and more wealth. Having a vocational skill is also a big benefit on resumes. Overall STEM succeeds in the financial sector.
STEM is also the backbone to all of society. Liberal Arts may have majors with high impact and power, but without STEM they would be nothing. You cannot have the artist without the patron. STEM builds the world around us. Think about all the advancements in society pioneered by STEM. Things like flight, cars, computers, phones, and countless other inventions are all thanks to the work provided by those in the STEM fields. In the ever changing world STEM is the more relevant type of degree to have.
Overall, STEM is the best type of majors. The fields are varied and offer many opportunities for learning. Skills learned are very concrete and highly applicable. Fiscal opportunities in STEM are some of the best for college majors. Many of the best pay jobs are attainable with a STEM degree. Also STEM majors have a higher employment rate than those in the Liberal Arts fields. STEM majors also have an easier time incorporating Liberal Arts into STEM than Liberal Arts majors have incorporating STEM into Liberal Arts. Not to say Liberal Arts is without its merits. Liberal Arts majors have a different set of skills than STEM majors. From a utilitarian point of view however, STEM is the superior major. STEM provides success in all the ways that Liberal Arts falls short.