As the ATU Class of 2016 begins its journey to college graduation, many of those freshmen are majoring in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields believed to be critical to Arkansas' economic development during the 21st century.
Nursing, engineering, bio-medical, early childhood education and management and marketing are the five most popular major fields of study among freshmen at Arkansas Tech that have declared a major.
"It seems that Arkansas Tech students are leaning more toward the health and biological sciences," said Shauna Donnell, assistant vice president for enrollment management. "We have seen an increase in the number of freshmen entering those programs. Often times their choices are driven by what has been in the news recently concerning employment opportunities. One of the reasons you see so many nursing majors is because there is such a drastic shortage in that field. Nursing has been among the most popular major fields of study for the past four years."
Donnell noted that higher standards at the secondary level in Arkansas have better prepared students to pursue college studies in the STEM fields.
"All of the students from across the state of Arkansas that we receive are better prepared than they were in the past," said Donnell. "With the implementation of Smart Core requirements for high school students, particularly the standard that students complete a math course higher than algebra II, they arrive at college better prepared to tackle any of the sciences."
Majors in the STEM fields are among the most popular for freshmen at Arkansas Tech that declare a major at the time of registration, but the largest group of freshmen year in and year out is the undeclared population.
Those students are able to utilize the resources of the Roy and Christine Sturgis Academic Advising Center in Rothwell Hall while they identify the major field of study they wish to pursue.
Donnell said the average number of times a college student changes his or her major field of study is 2.5, and that is one of the reasons why Arkansas Tech is committed to offering a wide variety of academic disciplines within its seven colleges --- the College of Applied Sciences, the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Natural and Health Sciences, the College of Professional Studies and Community Outreach and the Graduate College.
"Arkansas Tech has all of the most popular majors that students look for," said Donnell. "The breadth of what they can study here makes a significant difference because as those students change their major, they know they can pursue other interests without transferring to a different institution."