OPINION: S.T.E.M. Isn’t the Only Option

Students studying together. Photo via Adobe Stock.

“What are you going to do with a major like that? Is that going to get you a job?” are questions I am constantly criticized with when I tell people I major in Writing and Communication and History and Government. 

We tend to put majors like biology and chemistry with a more straightforward path on a pedestal. Our mind automatically shifts to that hard science means a high-paying career, but is that necessarily true? 

More broad majors, such as Writing and Communication, give you more options career-wise. Visualizing that from an outside perspective is difficult because there is no straightforward path. I want to become an attorney, but I know others in the same major who want to study marketing, public relations, or journalism. 

I’m not saying that hard science majors aren’t difficult. Any major is difficult in a different way and suits a different type of person. It’s hard not to think of a STEM field as the only option. 

In high school, I excelled in math and English but not science. Everyone around me pushed me into a hard science field, such as nursing or biology. I was surprised that I could use my math skills in other areas. 

Being in History and Government enables me to look at past statistics in documents and connect them to a historical context. Writing and Communication will allow me to use my analytical skills from math and apply it to my writing. Math and science are STEM adjacent.  

This sentiment isn’t meant to criticize someone who chooses to go into a hard science field because there’s a lot of writing and history overlap in biology and chemistry. It is meant to make it known that there are more career options for majors in the arts than getting a master’s or PhD. 

Non-STEM fields help us explore something challenging to explain without a microscope: the non-biological aspects of life. Areas such as literature, history, and the arts play a vital role in preserving and transmitting the culture, heritage, and tradition we know today. Who will maintain the records on who invented the microscope and explain its impact on a culture? 

Technical problem-solving is essential, but non-STEM fields emphasize analysis and interpretation, which is a skill that one doesn’t come by quickly. It is vital to decision-making, evaluating complex societal issues, and expressing ideas.  

STEM fields are essential to making scientific advances in many areas. Non-STEM fields address issues affecting these advances, such as poverty, inequality, and human rights.  

Many groundbreaking ideas stem from interdisciplinary knowledge in STEM and non-STEM fields, so is it realistic to only identify with one?  

There are many overlaps between both areas, and people only see the difference between the two. Both fields are equally important career-wise for research and education, and it is time for society to start acknowledging both. 

Anslee James is a junior double majoring in history & government and writing & communication. When she isn’t at the gym, she can be found playing with her dog, Lola, or listening to Taylor Swift. She hopes to eventually become an attorney and become a partner of a firm in the future.

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