Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.
Lower GPAs Deter STEM Students
There's no denying that it's easier to get a higher GPA in regular classes than STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). This is resulting in fewer students choosing the STEM path. Despite employers giving STEM students a bit of leeway on their GPA, there doesn't seem to be much incentive to take this path when the lower GPA often results in being overlooked when it comes time to do grad school or applying for jobs outside the industry. So the question is, what's the incentive to taking harder classes, getting a lower GPA, and being overlooked down the line? Students are starting to realize there may not be any especially when an easier route, gets greater rewards.
User @JDawd shares his insight:
The main reasons for people leaving STEM:
- It's difficult and requires a lot more time and effort.
- People find out that the work isn't as interesting as they had always imagined.
- It doesn't pay THAT well.
While it's true that entry-level positions at STEM level are often rewarding and plentiful, once you break that level, opportunities often stagnate.
From the perspective of user @heister
I think what a lot of STEM majors find out later in school is that their job opportunities are huge right out of school but then they significantly drop off once you are past the entry level. Jobs that follow the engineering path are structured to a rigid caste system. You can only move up after x years of service, and at every level, there are y% fewer jobs. So the advancement is tied more to lucky timing than actual performance. Sure 65 to 70k is good money for a nonfinance job but it sure as hell sucks when your friends who did not STEM majors are making a good 15k more a year then you are after 5 years.
It's not just the grading system that drives people away, it is also the general structure of the engineering industry.
So whether to pursue STEM courses or not tie into what your end goals are. If you plan to pursue a career in the field and don't mind knowing opportunities for advancement are few, it may be a good fit.
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