STEM Interest without Intent

Tutor with Students

In my role as a private math and physics tutor, most of the students I meet are in their final years of high school. Since nearly all of them plan to go on to university, I always ask what they intend major in. Of course, the answers are diverse but most of the replies share a common two-part structure. The first part usually includes fields like engineering, medicine, and marine biology. Then comes the “or maybe” transition, followed by a list of fields like commerce, business, accounting, and law.

I usually lose touch with students after they graduate from high school but, of those whose academic fates I do know, only about 20% went on to study a STEM subject. I could take this to mean that I failed to make the material sufficiently interesting but this US News and World Report article indicates that interest alone is not enough and that I am witnessing a broader social phenomenon.

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