Higher Education: What to Spend your Money on
It is tough to generalize on this subject, as we each have unique gifts and passions. However, when choosing what to study at the University level, it may be helpful to think ‘S-T-E-M’.
S-T-E-M stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The ‘meatier’ degrees, if you will, offer the best post graduate opportunities…even if one doesn’t chose to pursue them in the job market!
Quarter – after – quarter, year – after – year, the best paying and most difficult to fill positions are technically oriented. There simply aren’t enough technically skilled candidates entering the workforce. For first time job seekers with technical degrees, the net effect is a better slate of attractive options, with good pay, perks and benefits!
On the other hand, the vast majority of liberal arts fresh graduates are entering into an alarmingly tight (non-technical) job market for which there are few great opportunities. This combined with the substantial, very sticky debt often associated with the college experience, has made ‘launching’ their careers quite challenging. Most new graduates with non-technical degrees are enduring greater career ‘head winds’ than any time since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s…when the prime interest rate was 18% (although the 2008-09 market was difficult as well).
Contrast those head winds with the tail winds most STEM graduates are experiencing in today’s job market. A technical degree almost always offers greater prospects, higher starting salaries, even signing bonuses as well as surer career paths, especially if they have applied themselves and gotten good grades.
Recent labor numbers place the number of unfilled jobs in the United States well in excess of five million. A high percentage of those positions are technically related and the vast majority of those go unfilled for months on end. Why? The available labor supply is in possession of skills poorly matched to existing employer’s appetite for technical skills.
Landing the Non-Tech Job
So that is very good news for people who are good at and enjoy STEM related subject matter. What about those folks who are capable of doing the work, but just don’t want to work in a math, science or technology related field?
The news is good there as well. If they tough it out, they emerge into a competitive job market in possession of a technical degree which may well land them at the top of many short lists for non-technical opportunities! Why? They have demonstrated an advanced ability to consume, digest and apply difficult subject material! In short, the difficult material associated with their degree offers the employer greater assurance the candidate will be able to handle the intellectual challenges of the role they are placed in. They have already shown they can think and learn almost anything!
Not everyone has the ability to withstand the challenge of securing a technically oriented undergraduate degree. However if one does…the investment of time, energy and commitment will likely pay dividends for an entire career.
Check out this local High School that gets this concept in a big way!