Author(s): The Afterschool Alliance
Published: December 2013
"Despite the availability of well-paid computing and engineering jobs, very few college freshmen are interested in these fields -- only 1.5 percent intend to major in computer science and 10.3 percent intend to elect engineering. While there are many factors that influence what major college students choose, one of the key factors is a lack of exposure and experience during the K-12 years. Very few schools are able to offer computing and engineering courses. Although several of the more popular Advanced Placement (AP) exams are in science or math, less than 1 percent of tests taken are the computer science exam. Currently, there is no AP Engineering exam offered.
How can afterschool programs help?
While we know students need the academic background and skills necessary to be ready for college-level STEM courses, student interest is key to pursuing and persisting in further STEM opportunities. Research has found that 8th grade interest in STEM careers is a better indicator than academic achievement of whether or not a student will graduate from college with a STEM degree.
Schools are under many constraints and pressures that might prevent them from offering courses in computing and engineering. However, out-of-school-time programs such as afterschool programs represent an avenue to provide learning opportunities in computing and engineering. Afterschool programs have long engaged youth in STEM and several programs actively offer computing and engineering topics. Several features of the afterschool environment help reach the populations most in need and provide supports to keep kids interested and engaged."