How Important Is STEM For Teens Today?

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I am often asked to mentor teens and help them succeed in life. When people ask for my advice one of the common topics is STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The STEM subjects are those in the highest demand right now, and children and teens who excel in these subjects have an opportunity to succeed in many industries.

Every child is different, and if a teen does not have the passion for STEM subjects or the aptitude to excel in these areas this does not mean that they cannot succeed. The personality and aptitude of the teen must be considered in order to give the best advice possible.

STEM Tips For Parents

I always tell parents of children and teens that STEM can be important, but enjoying what you do is also crucial for success and a life of balance. Adults who do not enjoy their career or job will not be happy in life, and they tend to be less successful overall. You should never put undue pressure on a teen who does not have the aptitude or passion for a career in the STEM fields. The teen may go into one of these areas to please a parent, but ultimately if they are following this path just to please their parents, they likely will not be happy in life or as successful as they could be.

There are STEM aptitude tests that can help a parent determine whether these fields are right for their teen. Teenagers (and parents) need to understand that in evaluating a career, part of the equation is for them to also take into account what is in their heart and what are their true passions in life. Ideally, teens who want to go into one of the STEM fields should do so because the subject is one that they enjoy, not just to try and make more money in life.

STEM Is Not Right For All Teens

Encouraging a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics is not always the best route for a teen to take. First the teen or parent needs to determine whether there is an aptitude for one of the STEM subjects, and if the aptitude exists, then over time the teen and teen’s parents should explore if the teen will enjoy this path. When you are happy at what you do then it does not seem like work, and getting up every morning is easier to do. Success also means understanding balance, and helping others.

What Measures Success?

Sometimes success is mistakenly measured by how much money you can make, instead of whether you are happy and your life is balanced in all areas. Today STEM careers may be the ones that can be very lucrative financially, but this should not be the most important factor that teens (or their parents) should look at.

Teens who do not seem to click with STEM topics and careers can still be just as successful. If STEM is not right for your teen then examine where their interests do lie, and encourage them to do whatever it is that makes them happy as long as they can succeed in life and the goals are positive. If writing is a passion then the teen should look at taking some writing courses at a community college, and possibly apply for an internship at a magazine or newspaper. STEM is important, but if a teen does not have the aptitude for one of these fields then they will be miserable in these careers and that can damage their chance of success.

  • What do you want to do with your life?
  • What areas do you excel in?
  • Have you taken a STEM aptitude test? Why or why not?
  • Would you do what you love even if it meant that you make less money each year?
  • How do you define success, and what does this word mean to you?
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