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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    No majors have precedence over other areas of study

    Would you rather do what you love for little pay, or do something you can tolerate and roll in riches?

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott has openly placed more value on science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors, also known as STEM majors, in proposing a tuition reduction for students majoring in those areas.

    Although the plan seems strategic in directing students toward majors that lead to higher-paying jobs, this proposal would have consequences that can’t be ignored.

    STEM majors are the most expensive to fund, from higher-paid professors to the technology needed in labs, so the tuition reduction would require the allocation of other financial resources to compensate for the change. Scott proposes using state financing or private-public partnerships or raising tuition costs for other majors.

    Liberal arts professors have protested this change, stating that it would lead to a decline in the number of students taking humanities classes and therefore a decrease in department funding.
    Liberal arts majors are also known for requiring critical thinking and fostering strong writing and communication skills, qualities sought after in every field.

    Declaring certain majors superior over others destroys a major aspect of an undergraduate education — the opportunity to figure out what you like. Many of us arrive as undeclared majors, and during our undergraduate years, we have the chance to explore where our strengths lie and what best suits us personally. Monetary incentives could sway students to pursue unsatisfactory career paths.

    The prejudice against liberal arts majors can also be misleading. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 51 percent of humanities majors and 45 percent of social sciences majors who applied in 2010 were accepted into medical schools. A study by a Chicago State University professor indicated that the majors with the highest rate of acceptance for law school included philosophy, anthropology, history and English.

    It is not your area of study that matters, but how you apply the skills you acquire in your undergraduate career. Obviously, film majors shouldn’t be searching for jobs in astronomical research, but you should be able to do something like pursue a degree in music while simultaneously fulfilling the prerequisites for medical school.

    A diverse, determined individual who is capable of tackling multiple areas of study successfully will stand out no matter what career he or she decides to pursue in the long run.

    My high school graduating class was full of aspiring physicians and engineers. When graduation rolled around, it seemed as if everyone suddenly wanted to be a surgeon, even if their academic record didn’t match their ambitions.

    In our poor economy, many are pursuing degrees simply because they are known for leading to high-paying jobs, with no regard for their own personal abilities or interests.

    With Scott’s plan, the pool of students interested in STEM majors will grow for the wrong reasons.

    According to the New York Times, studies have shown that 60 percent of students majoring in engineering and sciences end up switching to a different subject or fail to receive a degree at all. Using reduced tuition to attract students to pursue specific studies that are extremely rigorous wastes not only students’ and professors’ time but also the students’ and the school’s money.

    Media outlets and politicians propagate the idea that our country is facing a shortage of scientists, but statistics and unemployment rates undermine this notion.

    Sure, petroleum engineers have good job prospects following graduation, but what about chemists and biologists? Biology majors face a 7.7 percent unemployment rate, while drama and theater arts graduates face 7.8 percent, and yet, drama and theater arts majors are the ones who have to fight the title of being “useless.”

    There is no good reason for schools to use money as bait to steer students into STEM majors and away from their skills and ambitions.

    — Kimberlie Wang is a physiology freshman. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions

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