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One of the fastest growing careers today are in the STEM field and many students pursue a variety of degrees related to these fields. But as demand ramps up so does competition to enter these programs at top US universities. Here we outline what STEM programs encompass and how you can start preparing for them.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These subjects are considered to be crucial for the development and advancement of any society, as they form the foundation for innovation and progress.
STEM subjects are interrelated and often overlap. For example, engineers use scientific principles to design and build structures, while scientists use technology to collect and analyze data. Together, these subjects help us understand and improve the world around us. STEM education is important because it provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century workforce. It also teaches critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which are essential skills for success in any field. Furthermore, the increasing demand for STEM professionals in various fields like healthcare, transportation, and technology, it is important to encourage students to pursue STEM careers.
In the United States for university purposes, STEM is usually divided into five categories – Physical Sciences, Applied Economics & Management, Mathematics, Computer Science and Pre-Medicine. Here is a list of some of the top STEM schools in the US.
|MIT||Carnegie Mellon||UC Berkeley||Cornell|
STEM subjects are crucial for students to study because they provide a foundation for critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These skills are in high demand in a wide range of fields and industries, including technology, healthcare, and finance. Additionally, studying STEM subjects can lead to well-paying and fulfilling careers, as well as opportunities for innovation and leadership in these fields. Furthermore, STEM education can help students understand and shape the world around them, and make informed decisions about important issues such as climate change and healthcare. In summary, studying STEM subjects can be beneficial for both personal and professional development and make a positive impact on society.
Lots of industries hire graduates with a STEM background. These include research, industry, entrepreneurial, humanitarian and finance companies. Here is a list of some of the top careers in STEM:
The US is one of the most popular places for students pursuing STEM degrees. While the UK, Singapore, Japan and Germany also rank high, the US presents certain opportunities to STEM graduates. Here are some benefits to pursuing a STEM degree in the US:
STEM majors have gained popularity over the last couple of years and there is a lot of competition for specific majors. STEM subjects have had a 43% growth for intended majors in applications. Since 2014/15 Engineering majors grew in popularity by 12%, while enrollment in Math and Computer Science went up a whopping 82%! Plus, international students are now pursuing these degrees more and more in the US, ramping up competition even further. So, it is important that your admission profile has all the necessary elements to succeed in impressing the officer of a top university.
When it comes to evaluating a STEM application, admissions committees usually perform a holistic evaluation of each application. The committee looks at each application in two different ways: Absolute Achievement and Relative Achievement. Absolute achievements are things that can be measured and things where you could maybe stand out against other students in a very explicit way. For example, are you really involved at your school, or in a particular activity, or do you have a lot of awards and accolades, do you have better grades than other students from your school, or better test scores.
Relative achievement is your potential and includes your opportunities, challenges and interests. Officers look at what type of school you went to and what opportunities you got there, what kind of unique challenges you faced in your life that show your attitude and your effort could be an indicator of your future success. The last piece of course is your own interests. Admissions committees want to see that you're bringing your full authentic self, including your humor, interests, hobbies or academic direction that you have, all to the table and reflected in your application.
|Absolute Achievement||Relative Achievement|
|% Rank/Testing (within school)||Your interests|
In the US, STEM activities are typically divided into two main – research endeavors and real-world endeavors. Regardless of the activity, there needs to be some real-world relevance to both. While research endeavors are usually quantifiable by publishing and depth, real-world endeavors are usually driven by a student’s own interest. For example, if you develop an app to tackle an issue in your community or you lead a club that provides coding lessons to underprivileged kids. However, research projects are not required by all STEM schools. Universities like Stanford tend to be more well-rounded and don’t always ask for research projects while MIT and Harvey Mudd College are more technical and require some research-based projects.
When applying to STEM programs it is important to understand that there are different admissions requirements and considerations based on what stream you choose. Here are some specific requirements for the four broad STEM streams:
Once you figure out what program you are interested in, it is time to figure out whether you have what it takes to go to a top STEM school. You should start planning your profile early enough and make sure to include all or at least some of the following:
|Take the right courses and tests||Engage in extracurricular activities||Show your leadership capabilities|
|• Four years of Math: Algebra II, Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus (even Statistics) • At least three years of science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, including labs • Any Computer Science or Engineering courses offered at your high school • Four years of English, 2-3 years of a foreign language and 2 years of Social Studies • If possible, STEM courses at a local college • As many AP exams as you can - consider self-studying or working with a tutor • SAT subject test in Math II, along with at least two others||• STEM clubs like ISEF, Robotics, Math and Science Olympiads, FIRST Lego League, or Girls Who Code • Volunteer at a hospital if you are interested in the BS/MD path • Fill your awards section by entering competitions - i.e. AIME (American Invitational Mathematics Examination) • Any other activities that you like and show your interests||• Institutional positions - Student President, Organization Ambassador, New Initiative Within a Club, Club Leader, or School Council Member • Innovative positions - Startup Founder, Organization Director, Leading a Campaign for a Cause, Starting an app, or Starting your Own Competition|
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