Acing the STEM Application ProcessPosted September 30, 2021, 11:40 am by
If you’re planning to study a STEM field in college, the application process starts long before you fill out your first forms. Take every challenging math and science course your high school offers. If you excel, then STEM is for you.
Participate in Extracurricular Activities
Students can also demonstrate their interest in STEM outside the classroom, said Mandee Heller Adler, founder and CEO of International College Counselors, is the author of “From Public School to the Ivy League: How to Get Into a Top School Without Top Dollar Resources.”
“Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to highlight their passion for science, technology, engineering or math,” she said. “Some ideas include entering the science fair, participating in scientific research, joining the robotics team, attending a summer enrichment program, or taking specialty classes at a local college or online in different math or science subjects.” Other options include classes and summer enrichment programs in marine science, biomedical engineering, app design and development, and artificial intelligence.
“In brief, colleges want to know that a student makes an effort to challenge himself or herself, possesses an excitement for learning, and exhibits a proficient level of STEM skill, knowledge, and achievement,” said Adler. “Authentic STEM learning experiences, like research, are invaluable for teens wanting to apply to STEM majors. When colleges see this on a student’s resume or read about it in the essay, they can more clearly see that the student thinks and acts like a scientist, engineer or mathematician. This makes the college want the student more.”
Look for a Variety of Opportunities
Be sure to look for schools that can give you the most opportunities in your STEM field of choice.
“Research and internships are fabulous opportunities to have at the undergraduate level and provide you with competitive opportunities when you graduate and seek employment, or continue on to graduate school,” said Carrie Thompson, director of undergraduate admissions at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
“Understand what your options are as an incoming freshman: what experiences will you have with your introductory courses, interaction with your professors and fellow students, and what academic student organizations are available to you.”
Once you find the schools that feel like the right fit, make sure you highlight why you would be an excellent candidate for admission.
“Submit an essay and resume that outline what activities you have participated in high school, highlight the courses that demonstrate your knowledge, and passion of the major(s) you seek, and try to set up a campus visit with admissions and a faculty member to showcase how committed you are to becoming a member of the freshman class,” said Thompson.
While COVID has posed many challenges for higher education, it opened up doors to benefit students and families in many ways, Thompson said.
“Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to highlight their passion for science, technology, engineering or math.”
“Virtual experiences are ramped up like we’ve never seen them before that benefit both the student and university,” she said. “A student can access higher education through virtual visits whereas they may not have been able to miss a day of high school or work. They can also schedule multiple visits in one day, attend a virtual National College Fair, and do it all from the comfort of their home.
“The pandemic also caused admissions officers to take a hard look at their admissions policies and focus on equitable options for students. Our universities are becoming more innovative and providing robust opportunities for our students. Many colleges, nationwide, have adopted a test- optional admission and scholarship policy this year. The focus is placed on high school curriculum, rigor of coursework and day-to-day performance, as opposed to a one-day test.”
The economy is very welcoming to students who want to pursue STEM careers at any level. Don’t hesitate to jump in!