Ambitious students take heed: a math major may be a better choice than a law degree. Georgetown’s latest education report names Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) the safest bets for high wages and consistent demand. It reads:
High and rising wage premiums are being paid to STEM workers in spite of the increasing global supply […]
Demand for the [STEM] core competencies is far greater than the 5 percent traditional STEM employment share suggests, and stretches across the entire U.S. job market, touching virtually every industry. Since 1980, the number of workers with high levels of core STEM competencies has increased by almost 60 percent.
The deeper you dig into the report the better it gets for STEM graduates. Both undergraduate and graduate STEMS earn roughly 50% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Longtime guild-industries like academia, medicine and law will stick around, and at the top these fields will still offer good pay, but those top slots are going to get harder to find.Stem students face better odds. Rather than be replaced by robots, STEM graduates may design or work with them.STEMS are going places, but don’t think the classic liberal arts have lost their importance. Via Media has long prescribed the classics to cover the basics: reading, writing, clear-communicating and incisive thinking. Ms. Rich of the NYT agrees:
In surveys of employers, one of the biggest complaints about technical workers is that they “can’t talk and can’t write a memo and have horrible interpersonal skills.” So maybe the best course of study is a double major. Physics and poetry, anyone?
Actually, Via Meadia would prefer physics and classics or biology and history. “Poetry” is a little too vague and one feels that contemporary poetry and, worse, poetry criticism, is poor preparation for communicating effectively in the workplace.What the STEM classes and the classic humanities have in common is this: they require students to master a coherent body of knowledge and learn clear thinking and accurate expression. There are many ‘disciplines’ that don’t do any of that; they encourage mushy thinking about mushy fields.But something else emerges from this important study that students and parents need to keep in mind. What you study is more important than where you study it; students who take solid courses at solid schools will often learn more and do better than students who take empty classes as flashy name schools.