Summer 2018: Humanities vs. STEM

By Sean Lopez and Polly Parakul

The Gaucho Gazette (Petaluma, California)

Across the nation, fall semester of senior year is often the most contemplative and stressful time of a student’s academic journey. They live and breathe deadlines, churning out personal essays telling everything from their family trees to their best achievements as of yesterday. Before all of the application chaos ensues, however, the question every student and their mother has is whether one pursue a degree of passion or stability?

  Majors are seen as the huge deciding factors in an individual’s future career path as well as a divisive tool to separate two different groups of scholars: humanities and arts majors versus STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors. The connotations associated with each major are not secret: humanities are known for the poor and struggling “starving artist” prototype, while STEM students may as well receive a “success guaranteed” stamp on their bachelor’s degree.

   Though stereotypes can not be proven with accuracy, some of them reflect the truth. According to the Department of Education, students who study mathematics or science have the highest rates of employment. The National Math and Science Initiative asserts that STEM jobs will increase 70 percent faster than overall employment in the next several years – math majors secure some of the highest-paying jobs. It is important to note that these majors make up about six percent of the current American workforce (as reported by the Department of Professional Employees) which explains why “more and more states have adopted the idea of rewarding public colleges and universities for churning out students educated in fields seen as important to the economy “(NYTimes).

   On the contrary, philosophy, English, and history – three of the most popular humanity majors – topped The Daily Beast’s most useless majors list in 2012. Humanity majors are evidently not facing the same praise and assistance as their counter STEM students. “All the people in the world who want to study French literature can do so; they’re just going to be subsidized by the taxpayers like engineers will be, for example, “said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, suggesting that humanities students should not receive funding for their college education (NYTimes).

   As an older music production major, senior Cameryn Gage and co-president of Casapella Club, comments on her area of study and the significance of her decision.

   “I’m going to be majoring in music technology which is also known as multimedia arts or recording arts. It’s basically producing. I’ve always been really into music. I’ve always known since I was like in kindergarten that I wanted to work in music. I’m the leader of Casapella now and I’ve been giving voice lessons during my free period in the band room. I know that a lot of people just want something that is predictable, something that will guarantee them to future and I totally get it. I was like that for a while and I was really considering not even being a music major for that reason. Then I realized that I just love this so much. I would hate myself if I did not even try. That’s my perspective: everything is worth the effort, “said Gage.

   Senior Sai Nadendla, President of the Coding Club and the Computer Science Major Proposed offers his view on the decision of majors and the advantages of studying in the STEM field.

   “First, I took computer science here at [school] and that was my first real exposure to the field. After that, I was a part of a club which was dedicated to computer science and electrical engineering and just spent time with friends building stuff. After that, I interned at a local university, Sonoma State, and working with a computer science professor and I think that’s where I really got interested in the field … I think STEM [has more stability] just in terms of job potential and number of jobs, “said Nadendla.

   In the end, each graduate brings their own sets of skills and talents to the table. A degree does not guarantee success or failure; similar to most things, ambition, perseverance, grit, and passion, are better pursuits.

Photo Credit: Dave & Margie Hill

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