Career Planning for High school students

A mother wrote to me: “As Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are becoming more important, how do I plan the careers for my children who are still in high school. How do I get them to study STEM? Please advise.

Answer: “I always encourage parents and children to plan their career as early in high school as possible. There are several steps you can take to help prepare for careers in STEM fields. The first step is to explore several career options to determine which one would be more suitable for your children, including salary, employment, and what degrees are required (BS, MS or Ph.D.) and what the local market needs in the next five to ten years. STEM is an extensive area with over 185 fields of study so you must select the most appropriate area to focus on.

Once you narrow down to a few areas, while your children are still in high school, try to encourage them to read as much as possible about science and technology to get them interested in these areas. There are several excellent books that you can buy for them to let them explore their interest. I always recommend students to take additional classes in math and science because these are the foundation of all areas of STEM. Taking additional courses will help them to determine if they like the subject or not, and also give them a strong foundation to prepare for advanced coursework in college. (i.e., algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, and physics will strengthen their foundation and help them better prepare for their future.)

There are several STEM online tutorials and workshops that can provide students with great hands-on experiences working on activities that explore how these fields have an impact on the world. Following are some of them:


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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