Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Is STEM in Your Future?

By Bill Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #98, 2011.

The benefits of teaching STEM courses in your homeschool

   Pin It

Bill Pride


Ever since the Russians sent up Sputnik in 1957, our nation has been obsessed with how well the U.S. measures up against the rest of the world in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

But science and math courses are some of the most difficult to learn and to teach. The associated labs are expensive in both time and money. Why should homeschoolers sacrifice scarce resources to study STEM subjects?

Apart from satisfying minimum state high-school graduation requirements in science and math, why shouldn’t homeschool parents just leave STEM subjects to be learned if and when their students decide to major in them at college?

Benefits of High-School STEM

Taking science and math in high school has many benefits, whether your student is planning on college or a more hands-on career directly after high school, as I’m about to explain.

College admissions officials look closely at high-school science and math grades, as well as ACT and SAT scores. Successfully completing rigorous math and science courses in high school sets your students apart from those who either can’t cut it or don’t want to do the work.

Even if your children plan to major in liberal arts in college, good STEM grades will help them get in and improve their scholarship chances.

Homeschool student: are you considering a STEM career? Then here’s some advice for what to do in high school.


If you’re heading in the direction of any of the biological sciences, you will end up needing to master introductory statistics. You also will impress admissions officials if you can complete a college-level calculus course while in high school—whether it’s a distance-learning AP Calculus course, or a course you take for dual credit from a local university or community college. Be certain you are up to the challenge, as a bad college grade stays on your record. Also, one semester of college calculus covers the ground of two semesters of high-school calculus. So you need to be able to learn at a speedier pace.

Science courses are, naturally, a must for future scientists. Your state might let you wiggle out of serious science courses and still earn a diploma, but you’d be much better served by taking solid science courses every year in high school.

Any actual science investigations you can complete during this time are a major plus. Kids who place high in the Intel Science Talent Search or the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology tend to have their pick of top science scholarships. Realistically, you’ll need a capable mentor—probably a college professor—who is willing to help guide your research, in order to compete at this level.

Of course, most teens don’t win prestigious national science competitions. Plugging away at what interests you, and occasionally trotting out your work at local science fairs, when combined with good grades, test scores, and a few more social extracurriculars, ought to be enough to get you into a good college science program.


Quite a few decent-paying jobs now exist in fields such as chemical technology. These require only a two-year degree—often from a local community college that has a program in that specialty.

These don’t require the cost of an engineering degree, and it’s possible to enter college with just basic math and go through one of these programs.

However, that basic math needs to be slick and quick! Don’t think it’s possible to struggle with fractions and yet make it through college algebra and chemistry without fearful struggle.


Among new college graduates, engineers make most of the top salaries.

Obviously, any young person planning a future engineering career should gobble up all the math possible in high school. The better engineering schools expect you to have completed AP Calculus, or at least a rigorous precalculus course, before attending.

Unless you’re heading in the direction of biomedical engineering, you might be able to evade a biology course. However, you definitely should plan on taking the most advanced chemistry and physics courses available. And build stuff! Familiarity with hand tools, measuring devices, draftsman equipment, and soldering irons is very helpful, not to mention fun to the type of person who would make a good engineer. And in today’s world, knowing your way around CAD/CAM software is a huge plus.


You need to be able to handle advanced math in college in order to graduate with a business degree. You need at least college algebra, and often statistics, for nursing and allied health degrees. Social-science majors need statistics. And so on. There is no escaping it—buckle down and do the math!

Was this article helpful to you?
Subscribe to Practical Homeschooling today, and you'll get this quality of information and encouragement five times per year, delivered to your door. To start, click on the link below that describes you:

USA Individual
USA Librarian (purchasing for a library)
Outside USA Individual
Outside USA Library

University of Nebraska High School
Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Articles by Bill Pride

Yes, I Am a Religious Homeschooler

Slackers Need Heroes

You've Got a Friend

Revenge of the Nerds

Getting Ready for (Gasp!) Algebra & Beyond

Teaching Algebra: The Search for X

Teaching Geometry: Measuring Up, Proving Yourself

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

Calculus: The Bridge to College Math and Science

High School Science

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

Teaching Physics at Home

Calculate This!

Graph This

The Foundations of Science

Why You Need Lab Science

Middle School Science

How to Get into Medical School

The Great Probeware Scam

What College Math Majors Don't Know

Math Wars

Statistics Can Be Sweet

Getting Ready for Algebra

The National Bible Bee

It's a Wonderful Second Life

Our Children's Inheritance

Considering a Career Change?

It’s Time for Homeschool Teacher Appreciation Day!

Is STEM in Your Future?

Popular Articles

How to Win the Geography Bee

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

Classical Education

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

Getting Organized Part 3

The Benefits of Debate

Whole-Language Boondoggle

Combining Work and Homeschool

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Character Matters for Kids

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

Laptop Homeschool

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

Shakespeare Camp

Myth of the Teenager

The Charlotte Mason Method

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

Phonics the Montessori Way

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

Montessori Math

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

A Reason for Reading

The History of Public Education

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

Start a Nature Notebook

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

University Model Schools

The Gift of a Mentor

Who Needs the Prom?

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

Bears in the House

Teaching Blends

Teach Your Children to Work

AP Courses At Home

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

I Was an Accelerated Child

Narration Beats Tests

Critical Thinking and Logic

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2021 Home Life, Inc.