The University boasts one of the strongest engineering programs in the country: ranked seventh by U.S. News and World Report in 2012. Last Thursday, the University received a $2 million dollar grant to support science, technology, engineering and math students. While the University and country have great interest in promoting graduates in STEM fields, it’s also necessary to recognize other fields of study that may develop similar importance or economic relevance.
The National Science Foundation funds a grant for a high school to college transition program aimed at establishing M-STEM academies at the University for a five-year period. The University has pledged to expand its STEM programs to attract a more diverse group of undergraduates and award more STEM degrees.
The grant the University received is an impacting contribution to world-renowned program in the sciences. STEM fields are a weak point of American education and certainly deserves advocates. Post-graduation, STEM degrees can be highly profitable and important, while funding provides a resource of interested high school students.
However, there are many other areas of study that are essential. The ability to read critically, write clearly and form effective arguments will always be necessary skills for any job. These are skills that are heavily emphasized in liberal arts programs. An average person will change their career five to seven times in their lifetime. A liberal arts program provides the platform necessary to learn skills that are a necessity to the ever-changing job market, and can work in conjunction with other fields.
While the grant for the STEM programs is enormously beneficial, this emphasis shouldn’t be at the expense of other academic fields. There should be equal incentive for high school students to join every field of study in higher education, as diverse educational backgrounds makes for more knowledgeable world citizens. With a shift toward only STEM degrees, the liberal arts and education fields could eventually receive less funding, negatively impacting the students who choose to study these fields.
Promoting STEM degrees in under-represented groups should be applauded. The future of higher education, however, depends on every discipline taught at the University. The overall purpose of higher education is to teach students how to think critically about the world. We cannot be successful members of an ever-changing society unless our graduates are well-rounded and come from a series of diverse fields.