Staff editorial: Don’t pursue a STEM career for a high-income

Going into STEM has its merits, but it won’t be worth it if you aren’t passionate about it

JagWire staff

Many parents encourage their children to take advanced science and math classes, while losing focus on other subjects such as English and history. This carries over to college, where many students will choose to go into STEM, as they see it as a guaranteed way to make money. However, this should not be the reason that you choose your major.

Going into STEM has its merits if you truly love the career. According to a study by Glassdoor, 21 of the 25 highest paying jobs in 2016 were related to STEM degrees. This is good news if you’re passionate about STEM, but this statistic does not mean that it’s always a good idea to go into this field.

In a 2013 study conducted by the ACT, nearly one-third of the incoming freshmen class described their declared major as a “poor fit” when asked how well it aligned with their interests. This kind of mentality that one must do something they don’t enjoy in order to make money is toxic for students, both mentally and academically. The same study suggests that students who answered that their interests aligned with their majors well tended to outperform their peers.

When deciding a major, what many prospective students fail to realize is the wide range of pay gaps that exist within these careers. According to a study done by Temple University economics professor Douglas Webber, the top quarter of English majors make more over their lifetimes than the bottom quarter of chemical engineers. Students who commit to their passions can find a way to have a stable income, despite the fact that many prospective students don’t see these jobs as viable options for providing them financial security.

Many graduates from fields perceived as “low-paying” can make as much over the course of their lifetime as those in “high-paying” jobs. According to the study by Webber, the overall average graduate makes $2.86 million over a lifetime. An English major in the 60th percentile makes $2.74 million and a history major in the same percentile will make $2.64 million.

In the end, pursuing a career just for the perceived “high-paying” jobs will not always lead to money. There are other ways to make a living, so pursue what you want to, chances are it will benefit you in the end.

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