Workforce projections signal an urgent need to develop science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-educated college graduates. Students who graduate high school proficient in math are typically prepared to pursue STEM majors in college. However, many students in the United States who are currently enrolled in two-and four-year colleges and universities are not proficient in mathematics. In addition, a large pool of the students who do enter college with the math proficiency to succeed in STEM majors are not interested in the field. Under-preparation and lack of interest may pose a threat to the United States’ long-term global competitiveness in the STEM fields. Analysis indicates that:
1. A higher percentage of math proficient students are enrolled in four-year colleges than two-year colleges.
2. Nearly two-thirds of students who have the mathematics skills needed to succeed in STEM majors are not interested in the field, although they enroll in four-year colleges at high rates.
3. Across the nation, African American students with STEM interest enroll in four-year colleges at the same or slightly higher rates than other students.
4. Interest in STEM is high among college-going students of both genders who are not math proficient.
5. Many college students are within reach of math proficiency.
This brief is part of the BHEF STEM Workforce and Policy Brief Series, which focuses on important dimensions of the education and workforce misalignment challenge facing the United States. Through this series, BHEF will further analyze 10th and 12th grade student STEM interest and math proficiency, as well as postsecondary enrollment using a longitudinal data set provided by BHEF member organization ACT. These analyses will provide fresh insights into the nature of the STEM challenge and explore unique solutions to these challenges.