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Why They Chose STEM


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STEM

Credit: Franklin High School (MA)

Although most U.S. college students pursuing science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) degrees decided to do so in high school, just 20 percent said that their pre-college education prepared them "extremely well" for those fields, according to a recent Microsoft and Harris Interactive survey. However, 55 percent of respondents said they were "very well" prepared to study STEM in college.

The survey also found that male and female students chose to pursue STEM degrees for different reasons. Female students are more likely to want to make a difference, while males are more likely to be inspired by a lifelong enjoyment of games, toys, and clubs focused on the hard sciences.

The survey, which polled 500 undergraduate students working toward STEM degrees at U.S. institutions, reinforces that good teaching and preparation are crucial to attracting and keeping students' interest, according to Microsoft's Jane Broom. Students mentioned high salaries, intellectual stimulation, and the potential for future jobs as key motivating factors for why they chose to pursue STEM degrees.

The survey also found that 66 percent of the students think the United States, compared to other countries, is doing a poor job of teaching STEM subjects.

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