Reports show that many minority students are not ready to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) when they enter into college. This is due to their level of academic preparation and the college they choose. If this is the case, what can schools do to help all students desiring careers in STEM to succeed?
The Chronicle of Higher Education points out that some experts think that minorities would perform better academically in STEM disciplines if they attended colleges with a less-demanding curriculum and if there wasn’t a significant gap in the academic level of the minority student and that of other students. These experts subscribe to the ‘mismatch’ theory which means that many minority students are entering colleges where there level of academic preparation is below the schools average. Consequently, college admissions based on ethnicity has resulted in high rates of attrition because many minority students pursuing degrees in STEM eventually leave those disciplines.
However other research showed that when black and white students enter college with similar academic credentials, black students were more likely to graduate. The problem only seems to come about when minority student’s academic credentials are not close to that of their peers.
In order to address the ‘mismatch’ theory issue, some experts have suggested that colleges warn students about the impact of being below the schools average or that school guidance counselors give students advice about the problems they may face. However these methods could result in deterring minority students from pursuing STEM disciplines and can eventually lead to hindering America from regaining its position as a global leader of STEM. A more effective method would be for colleges and schools teaching pre-kindergarten through 12th grade to do more to help prepare all students interested in STEM disciplines. For instance, Maryland supports STEM learning by preparing its teachers to teach STEM in public schools through the use of technology. Also Maryland community colleges have geared up for STEM learning in Baltimore by preparing students to succeed in different areas of technology, like cyber security and information systems security while simultaneously developing pathways for students to further their education at 4 year colleges.
All students deserve a quality education and an opportunity to attend the college of their choice. Giving students the opportunity to succeed in STEM learning not only helps the student but it also strengthens America’s position in the global market place. I think that colleges, public and private schools need to develop strategies to help minority students succeed in STEM disciplines. What do you think?