Science, technology, engineering and math make up the STEM field. On average, graduates with these degrees make $15,000 more per year than graduates of other fields right out of college.
This disparity is a staple in the contemporary job market. It’s common enough to be a trope. However, it doesn’t seem warranted. Education is education, right?
It turns out education isn’t always equal. The attention drawn to STEM fields far outweighs the attention other fields receive. The knowledge, or lack thereof, can have far-reaching effects on students’ lives.
Everyone going into college knows about difficult science fields like engineering or biology. While those fields are selling points for many universities, subjects like anthropology or sociology are left in the dust. It’s common to want to be a doctor, but few sit down and consider becoming an agronomist.
Often, students with a specific niche interest will already know about the field they wish to enter. Aspiring journalists may already know about mass communication and seek the field out for themselves.
However, there are equally as many freshmen who come in “undecided” because they aren’t sure what they want to spend the rest of their lives doing just yet.
While this buffer option provides decent breathing space for overwhelmed newcomers, the University does little to promote its lesser known areas of study, like horticulture and archaeology.
The University’s official website has a web page dedicated to discovering new majors, but the site is only accessible if you know to look for it. Once you’re on the page, you’ll find the field descriptions to be lacking and generally unhelpful.
The course catalog also provides a comprehensive list of classes available to students, yet the course descriptions leave much to be desired.
The long term goal of education, career choice, is just as poorly reported. Sometimes an area of study calls to you, but you decide against it because you’re not convinced it can lead to future profit.
Professors often use the last day of class to inform students about career choices and how they can use a degree in the relevant field. However, such information comes too late for those students, who opt out of a class early. Professors should make this material a staple of the first day of class, while students still have the chance to make changes to their class schedules.
The equality issue doesn’t stop at representation. English is the most prominent and well-known degree outside of STEM, but many people see it as a joke. The stigma is largely due to the pay disparity.
For example, a general practitioner, or a medical doctor with no specialization, makes an average of $171,000 a year, with ample opportunities for raises and bonuses.
Compare those numbers to the salaries of teachers and you’ll see less generous numbers. University professors get the best deals, but that doesn't say much. Law professors sit at the peak with an average salary of $162,000, less than the average general practitioner.
English professors get a raw deal with half the average pay of their law professor counterparts. Extend your view to high school teachers, and the number is yet again halved to an average salary of $48,000.
You can argue professors don’t require as extensive training periods as doctors and don’t do as much work. However, professors often hold multiple sessions of their course every day and hold countless office hours. This doesn’t account for the hours of preparation and grading required for each class.
Depending on the field, some professors have to deal with unfavorable building situations. Many buildings belonging to arts and humanities are obsolete and dilapidated. You may not even know the University has art buildings. You may mistake them for old dusty warehouses and prime spots for haunted houses.
Locket Hall is notorious for its stuffy basement with small, cramped auditoriums to make your history lectures miserable. Allen Hall, where English majors come in droves, is a remnant of the past where old walls are a relic of a bygone age of simplicity.
One step into Patrick F. Taylor Hall is a step into a new world. The building is state of the art, with extravagant lobbies and high tech classrooms. The Business Education Complex stands as a financial show of force on the edge of campus for all passersby to marvel at.
A classic joke states “Those who can’t do, teach.” This is a dangerous way to look at teachers. They create the next generation of “doers.” They deserve better resources to work their magic.
Teaching is only one option in the world of possibilities found in the realm of academia, and it’s a shame many never see the light of day.
Kyle Richoux is a 19-year-old sociology sophomore from LaPlace, Louisiana.