So which high school students should take physics? (And chemistry, precalculus and calculus…)

Every high school student who will be attending a four-year college should take physics.  And chemistry, precalculus and calculus (if possible).

Why?  Because every student attending a four-year college should be equipped by her or his high school background to choose any college major.  That includes the most lucrative college majors – those in engineering, physics, computer science and mathematical fields.  It also includes the undergraduate programs that prepare students for professional school in health fields.

Those majors require students to take college courses in chemistry, physics and advanced mathematics.  Studying those courses for the first time in high school makes success in the college-level courses much more likely.  The American Society for Engineering Education recommends all of these courses for high school students who might major in engineering in college.

High school students who decide not to take physics or who exit the standard math pipeline are all but giving up on their chances of being successful in STEM fields at the college level.  Parents who enable those decisions are taking some of their children’s best career options off the table.

This is important to keep in mind as Florida’s leading school district for physics, Brevard County, prepares to deemphasize that subject.  And as the physics enrollment rate for the state as a whole – already only about half the national rate – continues to decline.

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The top 25 college majors by salary from the 2015 Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce report “The Economic Value of College Majors”



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