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How to Encourage Post-Secondary Students to Pursue STEM Degrees

By Ginger Abbot

Posted on 2021-11-08

Young people often have hazy ideas about what their future holds, and sometimes that uncertainty can translate to avoiding taking chances. If a student enjoys math or science, they might picture going to college for a business, nursing, or finance degree because it’s what they’ve seen so many other people do, and it seems safe. But that might not be the best path for them, and when educators know which students have a knack for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), they should learn how to encourage students to pursue STEM degrees.

Here are a few ways you can connect with your students to help them realize their full potential. With a new perspective and a bit of encouragement, they can chase bigger dreams that result in a fulfilling career.

1. Discuss Their Opportunities
Starting a conversation is the first way educators can encourage STEM students. Young people trust their teachers and professors because you guide them through challenging material and confidence-boosting assignments. Talk with your classes about what STEM is and how they can build a life within that field.

Young women may not know that gender equality has improved by 19% within STEM fields like computer science and engineering in the last few decades. They might not picture themselves in STEM fields because they’re not yet aware that it’s a tangible possibility.

Regardless of their age, sex, gender, or background, every student should talk with a trusted educator about using a STEM education to build a promising future.

2. Assign Research on Role Models
High school and college students may become passionate about a STEM career if they have the opportunity to find new role models within STEM fields. Research shows that when students can identify themselves in their role models, they’re more likely to pursue that career because they can see themselves in it.

Introduce students to incredible STEM icons like Katherine Johnson, Peter Higgs, Cornelia Bargmann, and others.

When young people get excited about people who changed the world, they’ll want to follow in their footsteps by creating new educational goals. It’s even easier to encourage STEM for post-secondary students if they imagine who they can become by following their favorite career-oriented heroes: Older students still need role models.

Assign the research as an extra-credit opportunity, or sit down and research together during a career counseling session.

3. Review Potential Colleges or Programs
High school students need help to understand which universities offer the degrees they’re considering. Teachers can review potential colleges that have interesting STEM programs or even summer camps. College students can also compare programs available at their university and others.

Even if they have to transfer, it’s always better for students to know where they can get the education that makes their dreams possible.

4. Connect Them With Financial Resources
Some STEM majors require extra years in school or expensive courses. Students might not consider STEM for their future because of their financial limitations. Educators should connect their students with resources to mitigate these problems and show young people how many resources are available to help them.

Mention scholarships that encourage female leadership in STEM fields or cover tuition costs after the student sends an essay application. Students can apply for multiple scholarships and grants to cover most of their college expenses. All they need is a helping hand to discover the best resources for their situation.

5. Paint Their Futures
While you learn how to encourage college students to pursue STEM, remember to paint their futures for them. Help them understand why STEM jobs can transform their future into one with more opportunities.

Mention how the average starting salary is $66,123 for college graduates with a STEM degree and how that degree will open doors to 76% of all available STEM jobs. They could find jobs with the biggest tech companies and medical technology corporations, or even work on Wall Street. They’ll always have employment opportunities and a livable wage if they pursue a STEM degree while they’re still a student.

6. Remind Them of Resources
Students don’t have to be supernaturally gifted in STEM to earn that kind of degree, but they might think they do. Educators can explain that if students struggle with new course materials, tutoring sessions are always available online and in their high school. College students can take advantage of free on-campus tutoring centers as often as they’d like.

It’s a simple way professors and teachers can determine how to encourage STEM students. They might forget that tutoring is an option, but a gentle reminder could be the encouragement they need to continue their educational journey.

Inspire STEM for Post-Secondary Students

Now that you know how to encourage college students to pursue STEM and inspire high school students to think big about their university plans, get started today. Meet with students individually to discuss their goals and how they can conquer the STEM world. When educators become a source of encouragement and help, students will realize their potential is limitless.

About the Author

Ginger Abbot is an education, learning, and career writer, as well as the editor-in-chief of

Careers STEM High School Postsecondary

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