Editorial: Discovering our proper moderation

Jul. 08, 2014 @ 11:49 PM

Advocates of education tracks for math and science got another boost this week with release of a survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The 2008 class was surveyed in 2012, including more than 17,000 graduates, to see what had transpired about four years after obtaining bachelor’s degrees. Science, technology, engineering and math students — the familiar STEM courses — were the leaders in salaries, as were white and Asian males.

Schools in Vance County are similar to many throughout the nation, with recent advancements and emphasis in STEM courses. The public school system here has also shown a willingness to recognize not all students will be headed to higher learning after high school, and we believe that is a realistic element of the education process as well.

For all of our society’s positives, moderation hasn’t always been at the top of the list. On occasion, we would be wise to see when it should be more often.

The perils of the housing market crash, the dot-com boom and bust of the 1990s and the slow death of plasma televisions are among the latest testaments to what can happen when too much of a good thing runs right over us.

The emphasis on STEM doesn’t fit in that category just yet. But bandwagon caution is advised. Even with more companies using graduates with math and science backgrounds, there will be other elements needed to make those companies work. Business and law degrees come to mind quickest.

There’s no dismissing the survey paints a nice picture for the math and science graduates from 2008. And, fortunately, it didn’t matter if they were at private or public universities.

Only about 16 percent of the surveyed students were in STEM areas, and they nabbed average annual salaries of $65,000 compared to $49,500 for other degrees.

Graduates of computer and information sciences had a 95 percent employment rate with average annual salaries of $72,600. Engineering was similar. The survey reported humanities graduates were more likely to be working two jobs and earning about $43,000 a year.

Six years later, the number of graduates battling for those higher paying jobs figures to have increased. If the number of companies requiring their services doesn’t continue to match the surge, future surveys won’t paint as bright a picture.