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Curious about STEM degrees and their value to a mature student

  1. May 16, 2014 #1


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    When I was a teenager I had a chance at making a life as an athlete, and basically neglected my education because I had bad grades anyways. Eventually I was injured, and had to move on. I tried working a few jobs, but I soon realized I was never going to be happy in those jobs. Anyways, I decided to buy some tutoring dvd's and taught myself algebra and trigonometry, went to a community college and tested into calculus. Last semester was my first, and I completed a full time schedule with straight A's. I'm starting to realize the reason I did poorly in school when I was younger was because of my home environment... anyways, I'm looking forward to my future now, but im almost 30 years old!

    I am trying to pick a major and I was reading about STEM degrees, and from what I understand they require a broader scope of subjects to complete, which to me is exciting. But, they appear to be programs for younger students who began their education earlier in their lives. I feel like if I can learn all the math I missed from k-12 in a year, I should be able to adapt and make it through a stem program.

    Could anyone tell me if an education through a STEM program would be better than a traditional degree? I wanted to major in computer science or mathematics or double major in both, until I heard about a STEM program.

    I have had a few friends tell me that STEM degrees are like trade school degrees, and specialize more in getting you a job than helping you to develop your own theories on subjects. So far from what I've read this doesn't seem to be the case, and havn't really seen any discussion about STEM programs and mature students. From what i have seen, the world is quickly moving in a direction where a broad understand of all things involving math is important, so to me a STEM education seems valuable? Am I wrong? Maybe right? Am I misunderstanding STEM degrees?

    I know I want to do something involving mathematics, but need to consider whether or not someone my age will be valued as a fresh graduate. I've heard myth's about mathematicians being over the hill at the age of 25 or something, which sounds crazy!

    Sorry for the novel, but I thought my back story might contextualize my questions for anyone who reads this, and thanks in advance! Any advice is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2014 #2


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    STEM degrees are NOT trade-school degrees. The acronym is for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. There are some trade-school and community college programs for vocational training and these include fields in technology. These may be good options for you to investigate. The "geared for younger students" idea is not important. Some of those younger students will find science and math courses just as difficult as might you. Since you are doing well right now in your math, you have very little to worry about - you just need to continue to study hard.
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