Are Parents of STEM Majors More Stressed about College Applications?

Parents of science and engineering students probably aren't losing too much sleep over their child's choice of college major.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers' recent salary survey of 2014 college graduates found that entry-level Engineering positions had the highest starting salaries, followed closely behind by Computer Science. In fact, according to Payscale's 2013-2014 College Salary Report, the top 13 college majors in terms of future salary potential were all in the technical fields (with Petroleum Engineering, Actuarial Mathematics, and Nuclear Engineering topping the list).

Kids Pursuing STEM Majors: More Stress for Working Parents?

While working parents of future scientists may not be particularly worried about return on college investment, overall confidence in the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education does not allay all fears about the college application process.

In fact, the distracting college application anxieties of parents with budding STEM majors can be multiplied by the increasing competition in these highly sought-after technical fields.

The Right Engineering Programs for an Employee's Child

Working parents with kids pursuing STEM worry quite a bit about finding the best programs. They can spend hours of less-than-productive time pouring over college ranking lists online, not knowing they're collecting the wrong kind of information. College Coach admissions educator, Kennon Dick, recently questioned the value of college rankings in his post, How to Find the Best Engineering College:

[Speaking as] the person in the admissions office that provided data to the ratings agency... I think they are really good at collecting information that you don't really need, and then creating a system that has solid data but doesn't answer the question that matters to you.

Read more of Kennon's advice and his top 3 tips for choosing an engineering program here.

Parents' Employers Can Help With Engineering Applications

Once a first-choice science program has been selected, working parents now have an additional distracting worry: How do I maximize my child's chances of being admitted to the competitive STEM program of his or her choice? They worry: Is my son taking the right classes and standardized test? Are his grades and test scores good enough? Does my daughter need to be more involved in extracurriculars? How does she write an effective application essay when writing is not her strong suit?

College Coach addresses these, and many other, employee concerns in our Spotlight Series program, E=mc2: Tips For Science and Engineering Applicants. In E=mc2, a former senior admissions officer for CalTech and MIT shares an insider perspective with your employees on:

  • How their children can most effectively utilize school science and engineering clubs
  • Tips for choosing the best summer activities
  • Which high school courses offer the best preparation for entering the selective fields of math, science, and technology
  College application stress, particularly for the parents of students interested in highly competitive technological fields, can derail the productivity of otherwise highly engaged employees. Learn how to reduce employee stress and foster a uniquely supportive corporate culture through use of the College Coach benefit here.

Written by: Shannon Vasconcelos

About the Author

Shannon works with Bright Horizons Education & College Advising corporate clients to deliver college financing workshops and provide personalized counseling to employees. She has over 10 years of experience in student financial assistance, at Boston University and Tufts University, and has also served as an active member of MASFAA’s Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, as a trainer for DOE’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts.