That party you were planning on going to this week? Nah. Dinner out with your friends? Forget it, takes too long. Weekend trip to the city? In your dreams. As a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math), you no longer have a life. You have willingly (at the complete and utter shock of literally all of your friends) signed your life away to science. Science is kind of like Satan, but more boring. He’ll take your life away from you and what do you get in return? Hopefully a mid level research gig in the real world. Hopefully. Or maybe even grad school, which is just an institution to see how much studying a person can take before needing psychological attention. Sounds like a blast right? I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more STEM majors out there...
If you’re planning on becoming a STEM major, chances are you like math. Integrals, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, the works. Sounds fun right? Or at least bearable? You figure what the hell, I like puzzles and math is a bunch of little puzzles that need solving right? You poor, poor uninformed soul. Imagine thinking about it all day every day. No joke. In class, out of class, in the bathroom, on your commute to class, on the weekends, over break. Now you, reader, may be able to convince yourself that this isn’t the case and I may just be a bitter writer (fair assumption) or that it doesn’t sound so bad, that’s why you picked this major isn’t it? Wrong. It’s horrible. I often am haunted by unsolved homework problems in the shower, at every meal, in bed, even on the phone with my parents. Pure bliss! On the sheer off chance you're not thinking about math, you're thinking about physics which is just crazy concepts combined with difficult math. If you’re not thinking about either, you’re asleep. Or dead.
As you slowly digress from normal society, you will discover a few things. Number one is the fact that caffeine pills exist and are wonderful. I have a bottle sitting on my desk as we speak. (Sleep is for the weak and comm majors.) Forget about your GPA. You’ll get used to watching that thing tank faster than the ’08 stock market. (A part of me dies whenever a non STEM major complains to me about their workload and GPA.) Another thing is that attracting a potential mate gets exponentially harder (think: graph of the square root of x). Nothing gets a potential mate all hot and bothered like discussing time dilation or Laplace transforms. My advice? Lie. An attractive person asks you your major? Don’t say, “I’m a math and physics double major” without expecting them to throw up in their mouth a little bit and look at you like your face is melting. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
But, and this is a big but, if you’re anything like me, none of this matters. Sure, there are billions of reasons not to be a STEM major, but there is one reason to be one: Love. Passion. (Other synonymous words.) It is true, being a STEM major is some of the hardest work I have done in my entire life, but I don’t regret it at all. Why? Because I love the things I am learning. I’m learning about how our world works. HOW EVERYTHING WORKS. (I derived time dilation the other day and nearly creamed my pants.) Is that not awe inspiring?? Is that not one of the most mesmerizing ideas? That’s not even the best part. The best part is the people that you’re doing it with. You’re learning these amazing things with brilliant people. The kind of people that will shape the future of the human race right alongside you. These very same people that couldn’t grasp the concept of the game of football (let alone throw the ball) and would work on their science projects during recess (guilty). These people are now programming the next quantum computer and solving the global warming crisis.
If this article convinced any of you to be a STEM major, good. If this article convinced any of you not to become a STEM major, even better. Honestly, I do not want any of you to tank your college experience by pursuing a major you are not passionate about. If STEM isn’t your thing, I totally understand. If it is, join us and change the world. I’m beyond proud to be a STEM nerd. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go study until the early morning and hopefully catch more than 6 hours of sleep tonight.
- Austin Diercks Santa Clara University '18. Austin is a math major and physics minor.