Art vs. STEM: Why Choose Just One?

STEM and the arts are often placed against each other as if they were competing teams. Entering college, one might ask which one of these disciplines will help them land a more lucrative career or fulfilling life. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there is no one path to success in life and there is something special about each.

As a fourth-year Biological Sciences major with an Art History minor (I know: this combination may sound a little bizarre at first but stay with me), I find myself using my cross-disciplinary skills every day. In my science classes, I learn how to analyze complex problems through understanding data and difficult concepts. In my humanities classes, I learn how to communicate my ideas through writing. All the skills I have learned in my classes have helped me earn internships and jobs. In the workplace, I am seen as a well-rounded candidate, having a concentration in both arts and STEM.

With new advances made every day around the world, cross-disciplinary skills will only become more critical to solving the major issues we face in our time.

student intern paints

How do I choose between the arts or STEM?

Choosing the classes and majors that interest you is what makes college special. Love to analyze classic literature? A major in English may interest you. Love to use math to solve problems? A STEM major might interest you. Whatever your interests, the university presents the opportunity to dig deeper into subjects you love while keeping a career in mind as an end goal.

Yet, I find my fellow students too often choosing a major because they think it will be lucrative, or they think it will be easy. These are NOT good reasons to choose a major.

No matter what you choose to study, all fields have their challenges. When choosing what to study, think about not only what you see yourself doing, but also work that fascinates you. Remember not to limit yourself. There are many opportunities available, and your interests may change over time. Allow room for yourself to grow and learn about many fields in college. You may be surprised about your new love for Latin or Organic Chemistry!

students work food science class

Studying STEM and the arts

Like I mentioned, I am a Biological Sciences major as well as an Art History minor. Despite these subjects seeming like polar opposites, I am happy I study both. I'm fascinated by art and writing. At the same time, I’m also interested to learn about the scientific world around me.

When I started at Davis, I had no idea how easy adding a minor in Art History would be. On top of it fitting into my schedule, it contributes to the general education requirements I need for my degree. I know many STEM students like me who also have an interest in arts and chose to pursue it on the side. Many students at Davis choose to double major, expanding their skills and opportunities for the future.

No matter how you choose to explore your interests at UC Davis, I recommend considering classes that provide you with chances to learn skills different from your major. Whether that be tackling another major, adding on a minor, or even taking a class that is completely new to you. College is the perfect time to expand your horizons and learn about all the fascinating fields out there! STEM and the arts both provide an excellent education to hone your skills to make a mark on the world.

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