Welcome to the generation of STEM! Now, if you’re anything like me, STEM is not your thing. At all. Throughout high school, I found some STEM subjects interesting like psychology and biology, but I always found myself being captivated by other subjects such as history and English. History in particular was constantly making me think, even outside of class, and I found myself always asking, “Why?” about everything. I wanted to know the backstory about the world and society I live in and use that information to make a change.
This meant that STEM-based majors and fields that me and my peers were frequently being pushed towards was a life that I knew would make me unhappy in college. Yet, when it seems like the entire world is shouting about how amazing and lucrative a career and life in STEM is, it can be very difficult to not get caught up in all of the ruckus.
Now, this isn’t to say that STEM majors and fields are bad in anyway, because they are absolutely not. No field or major is better than another. But, each generation finds themselves being pushed to go into a particular field of work once it’s time to head to college and my generation’s has surely been STEM. STEM fields can be seen being pushed for in the news, at high schools’ clubs and fairs, and even from our own family members and peers at times. In fact, there is even a large proportion of college scholarships and opportunities directly for students who are studying a field in STEM. All of these aspects can become extremely discouraging if, like myself, a life in STEM is not for you. It can begin to feel like if you declare a non-STEM major, your experience at college will be bleaker and lack support, leading to an unfulfilling career.
Well, I’m here to tell you that none of that is true! What leads to a bleak and unfulfilling college experience is declaring a major that doesn’t make you happy. Your major should be something you love, and if that’s not STEM, that’s okay! My experience as a History and Gender and Women Studies double major has definitely proven that time and time again.
For one, I learned that there is plenty of support for non-STEM majors at the University of Illinois! From the LAS-ACES Career Fair held every year to the newly added Humanities Professional Resource Center (to name a few) there are an abundance of services specifically designed to assist non-STEM majors pursue whatever career options you want. Other resources such as the Career Center are also open to all majors and are just as equipped and willing to help out non-STEM majors.
As far as scholarships and study abroad opportunities go, I have discovered a number of lucrative scholarships for University of Illinois students who are non-STEM majors, and the amount of non-STEM focused study abroad programs here is abundant! Even individual departments like my own offer and constantly promote scholarships to their students to ensure that they can take their college journey in any direction they want.
There are also just as many student organizations at the University of Illinois for non-STEM majors! From academic fraternities to a wide variety of creative writing student organizations, I have never felt like I was missing out when it comes to other academic spaces that tailor to my interests and career plans.
Something I hear often after telling people what I study is, “Oh, there must be no opportunities for you to get involved in your department.” This is a common assumption about non-STEM fields since when most people think of research, they picture a person in a lab. But, in just two years, I have had the opportunity to work within both of my academic departments and even serve as a research assistant for a professor!
At the end of the day, college is about studying what you are most passionate about, and the University of Illinois definitely allows you to do that. If your passion is STEM, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I encourage you to pursue it! But, if you are anything like high-school-senior me realizing that STEM was not her passion, do not be afraid to pursue a non-STEM field at the University of Illinois. You will find that your experience here will not be of lesser quality, and you will be studying what you love, which is most important. 🙂