Diane Huang / Edge Columnist

November is almost over and for many grade 12sthat means early university application deadlines.  This often require students to choose a faculty or even their future professions. Sometimes, these life changing decisions are based on misconceptions of sciences and liberal arts, or what is often STEM and BHASE.

For years, parents and teachers have steered students to what is often deemed higher money-making career choices in science, technology, engineering, math, which is known as STEM. Careers in business, humanities, health, arts, social sciences and education, or BHASE, are viewed as less viable, often because these careers aren’t as easily defined as STEM positions. 

Their reasoning stems from the association of higher pay to higher satisfaction, and according to statistics, STEM pays better.

Census data in 2016 from Statistics Canada showed a male STEM graduate’s average earnings was 23.9 percent higher than one with a BHASE degree. For women, it was an 11.5 percent difference (2016 Census).

 The same 2016 census data show that of the over 28 million instructional programs offered by post-secondary institutions, there were only 2.8 million in STEM fields versus 12.7 million in BHASE (STEM and BHASE, 2016 data tables).

BHASE has an abundance in programs, yet enrollment is low. Many students believe that graduating with a degree in a rare program makes their resumes seem enticing to employers. However, as the enrollment in STEM is high, it is contradictory to this belief.

As the job market is changing constantly, it makes sense to reconsider the actual fields that make up BHASE, and even realizing that in some areas a variation of the acronym STEM is ‘STEAM’ with an A for the arts, acknowledging the role it plays with the rest of science, technology, engineering and math.

 Now, many universities are recognizing the importance of adapting the liberal arts for a changing world by offering co-op, research, and integrated programs to help students meet the demands of the rising STEM dominated sectors.

Even the University of Waterloo, which is well-known for their mathematics programs, boasts that “arts professors lead in the University of Waterloo’s Distinguished Teacher Awards among the six faculties.”

In fact, as Maclean’s reports, the amount of University of Waterloo liberal arts co-op students hired in finance increased by around 342% in 2017-2018 from the numbers in 2007-2008. As this example points out: having access to both ends of the spectrum can produce success.

Just take a look at the C.E.O’s of some of North America’s top companies. The C.E.O of YouTube, Tesla and PayPal all hold at least one arts degree.

Major companies are seeking out well-rounded candidates proficient in soft skills such as teamwork, communication and persuasion.

A scientist needs to know how to write proficiently to communicate their research, much in the same way an English major should understand basic mathematics.

The two go hand in hand and preferring one over the other will only isolate the benefits of the arts in STEAM.

While a recent graduate may not work in the technology sector with an arts degree, it is an opportunity to consider.

Especially for students who are interested in the liberal arts but are hesitant due to stereotypes and misconceptions.

If there is a university program in the arts that is inspirational, don’t sideline it yet for a STEM degree. Take a moment to consider the motivations behind taking a STEM degree.

As competition is high in the sciences, having a second choice in the arts is a good idea.

For students in the lower grades, keep up with English and socials classes. These classes will build the foundation for success in the sciences or mathematics. Textual analysis is a vital skill when dealing with physics, chemistry or mathematics word problems.

It is not enough just to know how to solve math problems, students must also know the “language” in order to communicate their solutions to their teachers.

Once grade 11 starts, be curious and take a variety of socials and English classes. Who knows? Maybe genocide studies will become a new passion.

As Steve Jobs once said: “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

So, start joining the humanities with technology and see where the journey takes both.