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5 Reasons Every College Student Needs Science

By Sharon Chen
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Climate change and the ways that we can approach this challenge are rooted in science. We all have to face such issues as changing energy sources, climate change mitigation, and how to support our natural resources: science can help us to do this.

While science is becoming more and more necessary, statistics show that only three percent of college students who take an introductory science class continue in the field. Our institutions of higher education have great power and great responsibility when it comes to teaching future citizens of the world. By emphasizing science and its importance and applicability in approaching the most important issue of the day, colleges can ensure that future generations are well-equipped to meet the climate change challenge.

Check out the five compelling reasons that all college students should take science courses below.

Why Every College Student Needs To Take Science Courses

Chad Orzel | Forbes | September 20, 2015

My “day job” is as a physics professor, and one of the things those of us in the business agonize about is the steep drop-off in students taking physics at various levels. Using statistics from the AIP, nearly 40% of high-school students take physics, while putting together enrollment numbers and the total college population suggests that the fraction of college students taking physics is a factor of ten smaller (this is a crude estimate, and seems low but not wildly implausible). Very few of those take anything beyond an introductory course required for some other major– years ago, I went to a conference on introductory physics teaching, and the factoid I remember is that only around 3% of students who take the intro course go on to take another class.

The problem is particularly acute for physics, because we have a (not undeserved) reputation as the hardest and most mathematical of the sciences, but it’s part of a more general phenomenon. Lots of students take science in high school because it’s required (either formally as a graduation requirement, or informally as a “you need to take this set of elective courses if you want to get into a good college” kind of thing), then run away as fast as they can when they get to college, and have (nearly) full control of their course selections.

Students who aren’t already planning to major in science often regard it as a waste of their time, a message unfortunately echoed by powerful politicians. Most colleges and universities have some sort of “general education” requirement forcing students to take at least a couple of math and science courses, but many non-science majors will take the barest minimum, and work very hard to put those off as long as possible. Disgruntled spring-term seniors who don’t want to be in the course but can’t graduate without it are a regular and unpleasant feature of our “Gen Ed” courses in physics and astronomy.

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