Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NBA vs. Engineering: The Tough Career Call

By Amy Esselman
Engineering vs. NBA: Engineering is not as glamorous, but it is still worth dreaming about.
image courtesy of xnews.pk

My little brother is athletic. Not giftedly so, but not awful, either. He likes basketball, Lebron, and the Miami Heat.

Now in his dreams, he would be starting with Mr. James next season—shooting threes and wearing shiny championship rings. But in reality he will be a freshman at the University of Kansas majoring in engineering.

My brother is by far the smartest person in my family. But he doesn’t scream “brainiac.” He excels in the areas he’s interested in and scuttles through the areas he’s not. If you saw him you wouldn’t think he even liked school that much—he is relaxed and carefree. He is fascinated by problems. He is a regular kid with regular interests.

I bring him up because he is the typical American teenager. He is unaware of what the future holds, but despite his NBA dreams he is going into a field in desperate need of qualified candidates.

Our country has a huge unemployment rate and people are stressing about jobs heading overseas. In some cases this might be true. But there are thousands of jobs in the U.S. right now that can’t be filled—not for a lack of trying, but for lack of qualified candidates.

Engineering is the number one field to go into right now—it’s massive. Over 1,500 engineering jobs are sitting vacant, according to today’s IEEE report.

Yet even with as many job openings as there are, math and science fields still aren’t coveted career paths. There are kids who would rather chase fame and success in jobs like the NBA than work hard in school, it seems more hopeful. You don’t have to be smart to play ball, you don’t have to ace calculus to hang out with the stars.

The chances of making it are slim—there are only 450 NBA player positions at one time—but that doesn’t stop kids from dreaming. The students who are struggling in school would rather focus on their potential strengths – no matter how farfetched—instead of feeling inadequate or slow in the classroom. They figure glamour and glitz is the answer—school isn’t for them.

But that’s not true. You don’t have to be good at basketball, or aim to be the next Lebron to have a shot at a great future. You can love English, science, or math and make it in the world. In fact, if schools took time to personalize curriculums and lessons to individual students, I think we would see an increase in successful students—students that with a little extra attention in the classroom could find out what their true passions are, whether they are basketball jump shots or calculus problems.


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