Nearly half of students say they’re interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields — including health care — when they start college, but few will earn a STEM degree, according to a Complete College America report.
Forty-eight percent of recent ACT takers express interest in a STEM major, reports ACT. Forty-one percent of new four-year students and 45 percent of two-year students choose a STEM major, including health sciences, according to National Center for Education Statistics data. Four-year students favor health science, biological science and engineering, while two-year students are interested in health sciences and computer science.
Most don’t make it.
Among 4-year students, 57% of students who choose health sciences and 59% who choose computer science never complete a credential in that field. The problem is more profound at 2-year colleges where 58% of health science and 72% of computer science students leave the program without a credential.
Those who stick with STEM complete college-level math in their first year, the report finds. Quitters don’t. They also complete few science courses.
Complete College America proposes scheduling college-level math and a majority of STEM courses in the first year to keep students on track. That will help only if students are prepared to pass college math, which many are not.
Nursing is a dream career for many young women from working-class families. Perhaps their brothers dream of being computer techs. It takes a strong foundation in math and science to turn those dreams into reality.