Medical student publishes book on pursuing STEM majors and careers

Sunday, June 5, 2016 - 1:50pm

Andrew Zureick, a University of Michigan Medical School student — along with three of his former undergraduate Dartmouth College colleagues — published a book titled “What Every Science Student Should Know” last month.

The book contains strategies and advice for success in undergraduate science courses, selecting a STEM  (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) major, doing scientific and medical research, and taking advantage of scholarship opportunities and career options. According to Zureick, the book contains information about STEM majors and careers the authors wish they were aware of when there were college students.

Zureick said the book’s target audiences are high school and college students who want to major in or pursue STEM after college. 

The authors wanted particularly to reach out to these high school and younger college students, as most students do not specialize their career interests until their later college years.

“High school students and college freshmen are fairly pluripotent in their career interests,” Zureick said. “You start better nailing down what you want to do with your life a little ways through college.”

Zureick and the other authors were initially motivated to reach out to younger students because they were unsettled by how many students drop out of STEM majors. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly half of students entering as a STEM major either switched to a non-STEM major (28 percent) or left institutions entirely without earning a degree (20 percent).

Zureick said one of the authors struggled with an introductory STEM course in college and pioneered the book project to show that the introductory courses are not representative of what the STEM field has to offer. He added that struggling in the introductory courses does not mean students have to stop pursuing STEM studies.

“One of our co-authors particularly struggled with her science courses early on, but she received some great advice from upperclassmen and completely turned things around,” Zureick said. “She started doing really well and ultimately ended up at Stanford for medical school.”

To younger students who are planning to be STEM majors or who are STEM majors, Zureick advised to not be disheartened by the introductory courses.

“Large introductory lecture courses often turn students off from the sciences because of their rigor, bell-curve grading and relatively lower faculty access,” Zureick said. “These courses are not particularly representative of the entirety of STEM majors. The end prize of having completed (a STEM major) and understanding the scientific process at an advanced level is worth more long-term than a freshman science course.”

Though they considered different ways to reach out to high school students, Zureick said he and the other authors felt that a book would be the best option. The authors have previously organized essay contests for high school students to promote outreach as well.

To write the book — which took about a year and a half — the authors interviewed over 110 people, ranging from faculty members to entrepreneurs. Zureick said they took advantage of their social networks as much as possible to find appropriate people to interview.

The four authors are all Dartmouth College alums, and they are currently at four different institutions — University of Michigan, Stanford University, Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego — which allowed them to use resources and social connections from five different universities, making finding people to interview much easier, Zureick said.