Prior to college,
there are several steps you can take to help prepare for careers in
science, engineering, mathematics, technology, computing, or
medicine. Many of these ideas can help you focus on a career path by
giving you exposure to the types of activities with different career areas.
Explore Different Career Paths
Step one is finding a resource where you can explore objective information
about career paths, including salary data, employment trends, what degrees
are required, what an average day might be like, and what work is done in
different fields. The Career Cornerstone Center is designed to help you do
this! Explore this site to learn about over 185 career options in science,
technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEM).
Course Selection and Learning
While in school, or in optional after-school programs, try to take as many
math and science courses as you can. Taking additional courses will
help you determine if you enjoy the subject matter, and will also give you
a head start on advanced coursework. It will also give you an
opportunity to meet other students with similar interests.
In middle school, consider exploring pre-algebra or geometry
-- read text books on these subjects if they are not available to you
through your school.
In high school, besides the standard algebra and geometry,
explore advanced chemistry, calculus, trigonometry, physics, electronics,
and engineering concepts. Some high schools offer biotechnology classes or
other options. The bottom line is to take as many math and science
courses -- and AP classes -- that you can safely handle with your workload
while maintaining good grades.
Massachusetts is the first state to require that engineering
concepts be included in K-12 curriculum. The frameworks
offer many good ideas for course selection.
AP Course Options
The College Board's Advanced Placement Program enables
students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school.
Thirty-seven courses in 22 subject areas are offered. Based on their
performance on rigorous AP Exams, sections of which are scored by college
faculty and experienced AP teachers, students can earn credit, advanced
placement, or both for college. More than 3,600 colleges and universities
around the world recognize AP for credit, placement, and/or admissions
decisions, including more than 90 percent of four-year colleges and
universities in the U.S. Some of the subjects that relate to fields covered on the Career Cornerstone Center
Participate in Programs and
Join in on engineering, math, or science projects and events that may be
offered in your area. These are great opportunities to network with other
students, meet professionals in the field, and gain experience. There
are dozens of mathematics, science, and engineering competitions - many
sponsored by local schools. Click here
for links to suggested national projects.
Precollege STEM Summer Programs and Camps
Precollege summer camps that focus on science, mathematics, technology or
engineering can provide students with great hands-on experiences working on
activities that explore how these fields have an impact on the world.
Many universities that offer engineering programs offer programs in the
summer for middle and high school students. Companies and science
museums also often offer summer activities for high school, and
occasionally middle school students. Check your local university, or click here for some examples.
Lesson Plans and Online Activities
Whether in a classroom, home school environment, or online,
there are many lesson plans and online activities to explore. We've
compiled a list of resources for lesson plans
and online interactive games and activities for you to explore
everything from virtual knee surgery to designing and testing a solar car.
Scholarships and Internships
Many organizations and universities offer special
opportunities for students considering careers in science, mathematics,
technology, engineering, computing, or medicine. These include
scholarships and internships that provide real work experience in a field
Try to keep in touch with other students who are also interested in
engineering, math and science. Join a math or science club after school, or
participate in science, math, or engineering
Visit your school's career counselor, and find out what suggestions they
have for exploring career paths in science,
technology, engineering, math, computing, or medicine. They may be able to
suggest courses, internships, or extracurricular activities. Some university career centers also have good
resources for pre-college students, and many offer career days for high
school students. They can also advise you about local and national
Connect with Professionals
If you, or your family, knows someone who works as an engineer, mathematician,
scientist, or medical professional -- see if they would be able to mentor
you -- or provide advice and exposure to their career path. Perhaps you
could join them at work for a day, or ask for guidance in gaining
internships, or summer jobs in your field of interest. Whatever field
interests you the most, it is a great idea to network with people who are
already working in the field to find out what they do, and see if it might
be the right field for you!
Learning Resources at Science
Centers and Museums
Many science museums offer lessons, activities, and programs that can help
students explore science, technology, engineering, mathematics, computing,
and healthcare. The Career Cornerstone Center offers an online directory of science centers and museums
throughout the United States…but also check with your local center to see
what they have to offer. Many science centers and museums offer virtual
experiences through their website, so you can participate interactively and
Plans and Activities
A great way to introduce students to career options is through lesson plans
and online activities that provide hands on, or virtual experiences.
Whether a student is home schooled or participating in a classroom setting,
these experiences can introduce lifelong skills and spark a career path at
an early age. We have brought together a list of many excellent resources
for lessons plans and also selected and tested many online activities that
focus on STEM education. We've compiled a growing list of lessons and interactive online experiences.
Every year, more than 400,000 students attend national
college fairs seeking information about colleges, universities and other
Local and national college fairs provide a good opportunity to compare a
wide range of college and university options in one setting. They can
be a bit overwhelming, so if you plan to attend a large college fair such
as those sponsored by the National
Association of College Admission Counselors that are held in large
convention centers, download a map of the event ahead of time and plan out
a route through the booths that will let you explore the schools you are
most interested in. Plan out your questions in advance. For example,
if you want to know what type of co-op program
the engineering department sponsors, be sure to ask that of each
school. You'll also end up with load of brochures and catalogs, so be
selective in what you take because you'll end up carrying it throughout the
day. Consider pre-printing mailing labels with your name, address,
and the year you'll begin college and providing these to the university
reps so they can mail you appropriate materials.