After a rigorous search and careful consideration, the Monroe Township High School STEM Academy team has selected ninth graders that qualify as students for the STEM Structured Career Academy. Freshman with a strong character and work ethic, scholarly academic performance, and an active engagement in school activities were chosen for this program – one that may not be the best to be a part of.
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Structured Career Academy aims to provide students with a framework to maximize their strengths while participating in a curriculum that is rich in both content and experience that matches their desired career interest.
The STEM Academy is an application-based program that will provide students that meet specific criteria with a structured, small-learning community experience. It has a three-year prescribed course of study that focuses on a STEM-related career.
Students who are accepted into the the STEM Academy must follow the prescribed course schedule and limited elective and course choices for the desired academy strand. Accepted students will not be allowed to change their schedules, even during the summer.
Although this rigorous course can be beneficial for students who have their minds clearly set on a career, most students would says it is too restrictive of a program. Students say that since they are provided with a strict schedule, there is no room to explore.
Many believe that high school is the time to explore and experiment with classes. Students should be able to take a variety of classes that explore different career paths.
Freshman Carmen Escobedo says, “STEM Academy was not a good option for me. I like the freedom to be able to do as I like with my schedule, and didn’t like the idea of having to spend the next three years of high school only doing exactly what’s on the program with a small select group of students.”
The STEM Academy may seem to be the type of program that catches college administrations’ eyes, but it turns out to be quite the opposite. Colleges tend to look for diversity in classes. The STEM Academy schedule may appear too structured to colleges who are looking for students that have a diverse background.
The STEM Academy also creates a big problem for students who happen to change their minds regarding their career in college. Fourteen to 15-year-olds should not be expected to know exactly what they are going to do in the future, nor should they be expected to follow through with the same plan. Young adults can be very indecisive, especially when it comes to how they are going to spend the rest of their lives. It is a tough decision, and one that cannot be entirely made in a student’s freshman year.
The decision to take part in this program can be made by the students, but is typically forced upon them by their parents. The idea of joining a program that essentially plans out a child’s career path is appealing to parents, but they do not realize the downsides of the program, and may not even realize their child’s true passion.
Freshman Lyla Salyani says, “Most people I know who applied were forced by their parents. I think parents don’t realize that their kid might end up not wanting to pursue the career in which they wish their child to pursue.”
Students who participate in this program and change their minds in college will realize that they have wasted a huge amount of their time. Instead of using their four years of high school to explore, discover, and decide what they want to do as a career, they have spent their time taking classes regarding a career which they do not wish to pursue anymore.
What do you think of the STEM Academy?