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Forty percent of science majors drop out … why?

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In “Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard)” (New York Times, November 4, 2011), Christopher Drew reports

Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

The bulk of attrition comes in engineering and among pre-med majors, who typically leave STEM fields if their hopes for medical school fade. There is no doubt that the main majors are difficult and growing more complex. Some students still lack math preparation or aren’t willing to work hard enough.

It sounds as though the public education system does not effectively prepare would-be science students for what to expect. One proposed solution:

Some private schools have also adjusted their grading policies to ease some of the pressure on STEM students. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has long given freshmen only “pass” or “no record” grades in the first half of the year while they get used to the workload. W.P.I. lets undergraduates take up to three classes for which no grade is recorded if they would have received less than a C. Any required courses would have to be repeated.

A student interviewed for the article who finds this new no-grades policy a real help wants to be an astronaut …

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7 Replies to “Forty percent of science majors drop out … why?

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    It might be harder to day but probably its because such a climate to have prestiges jobs exists that people with no passion or interest still strive for these professions. Then difficulty and lack of true interest forces them to jump.
    They didn’t say about male/female or ethnic results.
    a more telling sign of whats going on.

    Wny should medical people do math? its a different mind frame for those sincerely interested in either subject.
    In fact the student with no passion for anything particular would do better then one good in one thing but not another.
    Thee are very serious problems with who gets into these higher professions.
    Theres great interference instead of simple passionate interest in a subject.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Thanks, Robert Byers. Someone needs to tell that girl that Sally Ride did NOT make the cut by asking not to be graded against the guys. How ethical would NASA be if they sent a working astronaut into space whose science skills they knew to be inferior, justy to meet some external criterion? Surely part of the problem today is that people are encouraged to shout, “I have a dream!” but not “I have a plan!”

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    I am completely confident who gets into space has been on identity.
    They do all the time pick ethnic/sex folks over the rightful people.
    They would say quietly there’s only marginal differences.
    However identity politics rules in North America.
    This higher agenda to have the right sorts is a origin for the hostility and deeds against creationists even being allowed on campus.
    The establishment watches carefully for what it always watched.
    Identity about ideas, religion, politics, and now ethnicity and sex and so on.
    The creationist can always say there is a powerful,open or secret, agenda to control who gets ahead.

  4. 4
    Jello says:

    I am completely confident who gets into space has been on identity. They do all the time pick ethnic/sex folks over the rightful people.

    Can you provide any of evidence to support this accusation?

    Here’s a list of African/American astronauts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....astronauts

    Would you be kind enough to identify those astronauts who were under-qualified and only got into space because “They is Black?”.

    Thanks.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    i INSIST .
    Its clearly the great agenda of the establishment and so on to select people for prestiges etc positions based on identity.
    I accuse NASA since about the 1980’s of picking folks based on ethnicity or sex.
    Yes certainly blacks would never compete in such high things as they a a tiny percentage of the pop and smaller then that compete in higher professions.
    If there is no difference between the top 50,000 then sure some blacks would be the right stuff.
    However NASA has been a affirmative action program like everything else.
    They also would do it to keep public interest besides the great identity crusade we live in.
    Possibly errors in nASA stories were related to picking the wrong people.

    YUP.
    They select against the actual identities that should be picked. Airforce or science people.

    I’m glad if you say there should be no selection based on identity.
    I accuse them of profoundly doing this.
    Its the thing the media notes on any important flight or deed.

  6. 6
    Jello says:

    You can INSIST as much as you like. Unfortunately your insistence is irrelevant unless you can provide evidence.

    Provide evidence.

    Yes certainly blacks would never compete in such high things as they a a tiny percentage of the pop and smaller then that compete in higher professions.

    According to the 2010 census roughly 20% of the US population consists of citizens of African/Mixed/Asian…etc descent.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D....._ethnicity

    So hardly a tiny percentage of the population are they? And even that 20% does not include those of Hispanic origin.

    So, I’ll ask again. Can you provide actual evidence that NASA is selecting crews based on racial lines rather than competence for the task?

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    Africans are not asians or hispanics. Its under ten percent.
    its my intellectual and my integrity long observation and analysis of motives and results relative to abilities whereupon I insist Nasa etc is dedicated to affirmative action and deliberate selection based on identity to the loss of the identities that deserve in a great way.
    Ethnic/women are selected not just out of proportion but out of any claim to high accomplishment justifying the big positions and trips.

    Thats my accusation.
    Thats my evidence .
    my word and competenace.
    Nothing wrong with it.

    if you draw different conclusions then thats your conclusions.

    You can fail personally to be persursaded but the accusation stands and perchance will persuade people of what they see or suspect themselves.
    One doesn’t need to justify a accusation being made and persisted by someones else’s desire for intimate motive evidence.
    A accusation is as successful as the hearers own observations give it credibility.

    by the way the whole affirmative action society is based on accusations of secret motivations.
    They accuse and conclude and act.
    I only accuse.

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