Why I Left STEM and Will Never Go Back

I have always been the more artistic type, so I really don’t understand why I went into the STEM field in the first place. But there I was, my first day of orientation wearing a lanyard with my name and major, “Aerospace engineering.” I was attending a great school for engineering and I was ready to dive into the field. However, I was not ready for the way the classes would push me to my limit. 

I was never really interested in math, but taking a physics class in my junior year of high school made me fall in love with the way the universe works. I looked past the fact that I would have to take years of math, as long as I could learn more physics. I dreamed of working for NASA ever since I decided to go into the STEM field, a dream that many share with me. 

Once I stepped into my calculus 2 class, I knew I was in for a full workload. Along with calculus, I was taking an engineering class, university physics, and a simple English class. They knew we wouldn’t be able to handle more than that. However, as soon as classes started I realized that I could barely handle that. 

I stayed up all night studying for calculus and physics quizzes just to get a 2/10 or a 0/10. I was frustrated and the tutoring services were barely working for me. Every assignment felt impossible and my love of physics soon became a dread. 

I had absolutely no life, all my time was spent doing work, laundry, or sleeping. I had no support with me because I was so far away and the school did not provide enough support for the engineering students. Unfortunately, many schools set up their engineering students to fail and blame the student for not studying enough. 

girl stressed at computer

It was not until the end of the semester that my grades began to increase. At this point, I was studying non-stop weeks in advance for a test just to pull a B- or C+. I knew that I could pass and become an engineer, but I realized it was not worth it. 

Being in a field that was not conducive to learning and supporting the student was not for me. I struggled so long to realize that it was not worth it to continue burning myself out for something I no longer found joy in. 

I love physics and coding as a hobby, but the education system failed me and changed the things I loved to something I could not bear. I strongly believe that there needs to be a systemic upheaval in the STEM field, to give students a more open learning environment. 

Transferring to Adelphi and being welcomed into the Honors College gave me a love of learning back that I sincerely missed. Being in an environment of collaboration is truly something special and it is something I wish could be brought into the STEM field. But for now, I am not looking back.