STEM, the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths courses, is a fast-rising area in 21st-century education. Putting the prospect of the potentials of this relatively new area in perspective, the US Bureau of Labour and Statistics predicts that STEM employment opportunities will increase by 13% in the year 2022.
As expected, STEM has caught the interest of a good number of young students. Along with interest in this field comes the confusion of how to prepare to get STEM-related courses in college. In this article, tips on how to prepare towards getting the STEM courses in college will be discussed:
1. Sign Up for Core STEM Subjects in High School
Each of the disciplines in STEM are broken into a wide range of other courses. Thus, there is a differing emphasis on specific high school subjects in each of the four STEM disciplines. However, the core subjects to study while in high school are pretty much the same across the broad STEM courses, which includes:
- Physics: As a high school subject, this helps students gain the fundamental knowledge of most modern life processes. Topics under physics include light, sound, mechanics, gravity, amongst others.
- Biology: Biology is generally referred to as the study of evolution, origin, growth, function, distribution, and structure of living organisms. It includes most of the topics in science.
- Chemistry: This subject, as it sounds, is a study of matter and energy at the chemical level. Chemistry helps high school students gain a basic understanding of natural and artificial chemical processes and the properties of chemical substances.
- Mathematics: Mathematics is a subject that is based on logical arguments and hypotheses. It mainly covers topics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability.
2. Use Online Resources and Take Extra Classes
Signing up for the four important high school subjects leading up to a STEM course is as important as succeeding in it. However, success in these subjects isn’t based solely on what is taught in your high school class. This is because the teaching time in school for these subjects doesn’t do justice to what the students need to learn. At best in-school classes are meant to form a foundation for the students’ knowledge base.
To get the best results, students can take advantage of online resources or sign up for some extra classes with a teacher, parent, or senior. Also, there are various benefits to biology, chemistry, maths, and physics tutoring. Usually, there is a minimal cost of online learning, but the quality of teaching counterbalances the initial costs
3. Apply for High School Internships
Interning is another excellent way to prepare to get into STEM courses in college. Internships serve as a way to help high school students learn real-life experiences. Students who are looking to get into STEM courses in college should secure an internship opportunity in companies in the STEM industry. Related and previous internships in a student’s resume give them a better chance of getting considered for admission.
High school internships help students to build relevant skills in the industry very early. During this time, students can gain the following skills:
- How to build working relationships.
- The fundamental uses of computer software and programs.
- Firsthand industry knowledge from direct supervisors.
- An early experience of the office and on-field life in the STEM industry.
4. Extracurricular Activities
Colleges offering STEM courses are always looking for well-rounded applicants. These kinds of applicants have a proven track record in their core subjects and have explored a variety of interests, experiences, and skills outside of schoolwork.
Exploring outside schoolwork are known as extracurricular activities. Students gain a lot of soft skills, otherwise known as 21st-century modern skills, throughout their extracurricular activities. These include effective communication, cognitive and creative skills. Students should ensure that all of their extracurricular activities match their interests to avoid wasting time.
5. Attend College Fairs
As you approach the time of application for college, it is important to attend college fairs. Many of these fairs explicitly target STEM courses. Students get useful firsthand information about various colleges from their representatives at the fairs.
The information gotten from college fairs is not only useful but convenient since the need to travel long distances to those institutions is eliminated. Students can use the opportunity provided by these events to find out information about as many schools as they can during the period. Representatives are always eager to answer endless questions as the time permits them.
Presentation of results to the representatives is also a possibility at the fairs. Having vetted your scores, they will be able to tell you the satisfactory and less satisfactory subjects on your results sheet. The student can then go-ahead to work on the identified areas to be college-ready for their desired courses.
6. Do Your Personal Online Research
Beyond the information you will get from a college fair, it’s essential to do your online research still. Due to time constraints, there may be some pieces of information you missed out on at the fair. You can take time to visit their official website of any of the universities present at the college fair to get more information. You can also contact their admissions office via email to get more specific questions answered.
Your online research can also help you to find out more about schools that you couldn’t reach during a college fair. Information to look out for during your online research includes the grade point requirements of various colleges, fees, and if there are any scholarships available.
7. Take An Advanced Placement Test
Advanced Placement (AP) tests are essential to getting into college for the STEM courses you plan to enroll for. Based on the information you must have gathered from college fairs and online researches, you should already know the score requirements for your AP tests.
Preparing for an AP test is as important as taking the test itself. Studies for the test must revolve round the subjects that will be tested even more. For example, the SAT, test students on critical reading, math, and writing while the ACT, tests students on English, reading, math, science, and writing. Most schools accept both tests; it then lies with the students to choose the best suited for them.
Proper preparation while high school is guaranteed to get students their desired STEM course in college. However, the preparation process could either be easy or difficult, depending on the steps taken. Most of the steps needed to ease your way into a proper preparation have been discussed in this article. All of them can be even more effective when used in conjunction with advice from a school’s guidance counselor.