Humanities vs. STEM in Taiwan | Irene Lin – Grade 11

science book reading STEM subjects and the humanities seem to be in competition. Which field do you think is more important?
  • Parents’ expectations heavily influence students’ choices
  • Many Taiwan graduates still find themselves unprepared to enter the workforce

Selecting learning tracks is an important event during Taiwanese students’ high school lives. For many teens, it’s the first time they’ve ever made a choice about their future on their own.

Unlike elementary and secondary education, college provides students the knowledge of a specific field, thus, college departments usually only take major-related subjects into account when recruiting freshmen. Therefore by selecting tracks students can receive sufficient advice and help.

Learning tracks

Learning tracks are referred to as groups, with three different groups separated by the subjects they deal with.

Students in Group 1 focus on the humanities. Many students then choose to do further studies in law, literature and philosophy. Group 2 and 3 both study STEM subjects, however, Group 2 leans towards engineering while Group 3 prepares students who wish to enter medical schools or further science research.

Out of all three groups, students in Group 3 are given the most work and are expected to be more competitive among other students. As a result, when students struggle to make their final decision and are afraid that they may regret their choice and then have a hard time catching up after transferring to another group. Many would choose to join group 3.

Living up to expectations

Beyond the difficulties of making this big decision, parents’ expectations also have a heavy influence on students. Some parents, thinking that studying STEM subjects will give their kids a brighter future, pressure them into choosing Group 3. Some who had to follow their parents’ wishes find the amount of work unbearable and gain no sense of fulfillment.

The idea that more knowledge is an advantage is common, causing both students and parents to feel the need to transform kids into an undefeatable and irreplaceable geniuses who can easily adapt to the ever-changing society.


As technology improves daily, it’s inevitable that people must retain more than one type of skill to remain irreplaceable.

While Taiwanese education provides students tons of knowledge, many graduates still find themselves unprepared to enter the workforce. However, the world doesn’t need people who possess abundant information; the internet has already taken charge of collecting all the data.

Both humanities and STEM majors can lead to a successful life, whether we could use what we’ve learned is more important than knowing more. All three groups should be valued and students should be encouraged to follow their will.

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