STEM is Far More Substantial Than The Liberal Arts
The path to a rewarding career is an uphill battle. When a person begins their college education, the preparation for achieving their dream career also begins. A college education is an important factor in economic and career trajectory. Furthermore, the demand for candidates with college degrees is expected to only increase in the future; which has led to an increased interest of high school graduates who plan on continuing their education at a 2 year or 4 year institution. According to the study “The Condition of Education 2011,” conducted by Susan Aud, William Hussar and Grace Kena from The National Center for Education Statistics, with “68% of all high school graduates enrolling in college and a total of 21 million students enrolled in 2010,” it is evident that a large portion of Americans have chosen to pursue a college education in order to obtain a well-paying job and ultimately achieving long-term career success in today’s workforce. Thus high school graduates and college students believe that investing in their future by obtaining a college degree is essential for increasing their earning potential and improving job prospects. The value of a college education has never been more important and the close relationship between college attainment, employment prospects, salaries, and job satisfaction is stronger than ever.
Although, there is plenty of evidence that a college degree is in fact worth it, the question then becomes is majoring in liberal arts more beneficial than STEM and vice versa. Advocates for liberal arts education argue that the curriculum generally does a better job of improving their graduates’ soft skills in the following areas of problem solving, critical thinking and communication, which employers demand in the labor market. Liberal arts education prioritizes interdisciplinary learning which gives students the ability to thrive and develop soft skills which translates to many different career fields. Furthermore, as society transitions into the digital age, more soft skills are essential to fixing the problems that technology cannot compute alone.
However there is no doubt that STEM careers make a difference in society; ever since the Cold War, when the U.S and the Soviet Union both encouraged students to go into STEM fields in order to expand their militaries and industries. Today, due to globalization, there is a new drive to create advancements in technology, infrastructure, transportation and medicine- to name a few. According to the study “Occupational Employment Projections to 2018,” conducted by T. Alan Lacey and Benjamin Wright from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “it is projected that by 2020, a 34% increase in professional, scientific, and technical services will take place.”
Hence, current economic conditions as well as the supply and demand of candidates with particular degrees and skills are also important factors that influence career trajectories. According to the study, “How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment,” conducted by Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly, “currently demand in the labor market for graduates in engineering and some professional fields, including health-related fields dramatically exceeds supply, while demand for most graduates in liberal arts and science fields is roughly even with supply.”
However, STEM is more in demand than the liberal arts because our world depends on it. The economy and our general well-being is supported by science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM jobs are abundant and growing in which professionals working in STEM fields are less likely to be unemployed than their non-STEM counterparts. Employers are eager to hire candidates who can problem-solve and think analytically which are skills at the core of STEM curriculum. The heavily globalized economy is in need of candidates who possess the knowledge and skills that drive innovation. The candidates who have brought innovation to the table are those equipped with science, technology, engineering and math abilities. Due to the important role that STEM-related skills play in the advancement of new technologies and the continuance of economic progress, potential candidates are encouraged to develop STEM skills needed in the workforce while in school.
Another important debate is whether liberal arts degrees or STEM degrees provide the best return on investment. Liberal arts advocates argue that earning a degree from a liberal arts college pays off in the long run which is shown in the study “ROI Liberal Arts Colleges Value Adds Up Over Time,” conducted by Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah and Martin Van Der Werf, from Georgetown University. According to the study, “the median return on investment for a liberal arts college degree is 40% below other colleges 10 years after graduation,” however, “after 40 years the ROI on a degree from a liberal arts college is 25% higher than all other colleges.” Liberal arts advocates further argue the increase in ROI is due to the value of soft skills and credentials becoming more prominent by employers over time.
However, according to the study “Career Corner: The Value of a STEM degree,” conducted by Youngstown State University, “STEM majors earn on average $43,000 upon entering the workforce compared to all majors which comes in at $33,000.” Furthermore the study projected that STEM majors also see the largest wage growth over the course of their careers. The study also reported that when it comes to job prospects for recent grads, “newly minted engineers have been the most heavily recruited and highest paid in the class of 2012, with a median salary of $58,581; followed by computer scientists at $56,383.”The problem-solving capabilities of engineers and computer scientists put them in demand across the U.S economy. Thus careers associated with STEM are the highest paying and offer the best opportunity to pay off student loan debt.
STEM fields are more substantial than the liberal arts because they bring more value to society. STEM careers promise stable and high-paying employment for graduates amongst the rapid advancement in technology. STEM advocates point to the high number of unemployment amongst liberal arts majors but liberal arts advocates claim that a deep understanding of the humanities and the development of soft skills are just as important. However, there needs to be more emphasis placed on STEM subjects because we live in a technological world that requires technical skills in order to continue functioning. Due to the fact that technology is in almost every aspect of life and as the work environment changes, STEM knowledge and skills grow in importance for a variety of workers in the labor market.
Aud, S., Hussar, W., & Kena, G. (2011, May). The Condition of Education 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
Carnevale, A. P., Cheah, B., & Van Der Werf, M. (2020). ROI Liberal Arts Colleges Value Adds Up Over Time. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
Humphreys, D., & Kelly, P. (2014). How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
Lacey, A. T., & Wright , B. (2010, December 22). Occupational Employment Projections to 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
This is a thoughtful and well-written essay, J. Any criticism I have to offer will be secondary to that basic assessment. Congratulations, and thank you for posting early so your classmates can see a strong model.
First, your title does not have to (probably shouldn’t) proclaim the position contrary to your own. The purpose of the Rebuttal essay is to REFUTE the strongest contrary point of view. As I understand your Thesis, you mean to prove that in the long run, graduates with strong soft skills, not technical skills, will achieve greater career success. You respect other opinions, but you don’t have to present them as your own.
You cite one statistic in your introduction to support a rather sweeping claim that you make repeatedly in several ways.
which has led to
To prove that, you cite the statistic that
which I found surprisingly low. And that’s the problem. With no context, readers don’t know whether college enrollment is up or down relative to history, relative to other countries.
A chart would help.
This one goes to 2010. Is the trend up during the last 20 years? During the last 10 since 2010? Shouldn’t take long to find out, and your point will be made.
Another statistical citation would have been more valuable to you in 2000 than it is now.
By now, we should know whether Lacey and Wright got it right. A skeptical reader will look at the quote and wonder, “Did J use this projected number as support because there’s no good data to prove that services DID IN FACT increase?”
HOW TO REFUTE BY NAMING
J, I want to help you strike the delicate balance between ACKNOWLEDGING a reasonable counterargument and EMBRACING it.
You are obligated as a good writer promoting a controversial point of view to ACKNOWLEDGE that reasonable thinkers disagree with you. But you do so in order to REFUTE them, not to EMBRACE their point of view. The more carefully you detail their positions, the more convincingly you can undermine their reasoning or credibility or evidence. But you never have to SOUND AS IF you AGREE with them.
In my Lecture/Demo “Invention by Naming” I suggested that to own a concept, we must name it. For your readers too, the name becomes the most important aspect of your argument. For you, that name might be “The Soft-Skills Advantage.” Those with soft skills, “The Communicators, The Managers, The Team-Builders,” will always ultimately advance to positions the merely technical, “The Techies,” cannot. That shorthand cuts through so much language and conceptualizing and gets to the heart of the matter.
A brief example from your “However, STEM” paragraph will demonstrate how to PRESENT the counterargument by naming it while at the same time REFUTING it by naming your own thesis, “The Soft Skill Advantage”:
So what do you think?