How to be successful as a STEM major

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By Em Dewolf

I am a member of the Honors College at Wayne State University and the Emerging Scholars Program (ESP). I am studying Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) while working on departmental and university honors. As this is a heavy load, there are tons of resources to help students, especially STEM majors, manage their years at Wayne in the most healthy ways possible. One way they do this is through Living Learning Communities or LLCs.

Em DeWolf
Em DeWolf

One of these LLCs is the Emerging Scholars Program (ESP). This is a precalculus and calculus LLC for STEM majors, mainly engineering and others. The program runs from intro to college algebra to Calculus II. ESP is primarily for students interested in STEM fields who struggle with math and may be dealing with anxiety about their career path and college classes due to the heavy amount of math involved. To help these students, ESP is a seven-credit-hour course and includes a “workshop” twice a week in addition to meeting 3-5 times a week. Due to this program’s high time commitment is considered honors-level, and Calculus, I and II in ESP, receive honors credit for these courses. Your transcript won’t say assisted learning calculus or ESP calc 1; it will simply read “Honors Calculus I,” so it looks like you’re super good at math even though you’re taking a math class for students who struggle with math. To be honest, though, you will be super good at math after ESP.

Click here for information on how to register for ESP and the program’s success rates. Spoiler alert – the results are excellent. In the workshop, you work on difficult math problems in four teams with guidance from the professor and write summaries of those problems. This provides a very in-depth understanding of what is going on in the math problems instead of memorizing formulas and definitions. I took an intro to college algebra in a main university course and was incredibly stressed every night because I kept falling behind my peers. I barely passed. Then, I did precalculus and calculus 1 with ESP the following semesters and earned my first A in a math class ever. I was so proud! Additionally, I met two of my best friends through ESP. If I needed more math courses, I absolutely would continue enrolling in ESP, and I highly recommend anyone who wants to excel at mathematics consider taking this class. Don’t let the credit hours scare you! It is definitely worth the extra work.

In addition to ESP, I am an honors college student and have engaged with the honors LLC many times. I love the programs available! Courses are mainly themed around helping the Detroit community, researching, problem-solving, and tons of fascinating topics open to all honors students, regardless of majors. I lived on campus and stayed on an honors floor of Towers Residential Suites my first year. My friends were down on the freshman floor, surrounded by loud noises and bustling with energy, which is great and all, but not for me. I take 15-18 credits most semesters, which requires a ton of studying. Therefore, I didn’t have much time to socialize and appreciated the environment of the honors floor. There were early quiet hours, many peers, and super helpful upper-level students. I mingled with various students but never felt pressured to do social stuff. This year, my third year, I am on a regular floor because my friends are here, and I believe the honors LLC was in a different building.

Another fantastic component of Honors LLC is the adventures we get to go on. Every first-year honors student is required to go to various historical landmarks in Detroit, and we take a field trip to Eastern Market and the Detroit History Museum. Getting outside and moving around while still getting honors credit is a blessing for students like me. I would much rather go on a walk to learn about the impact of highway construction on Detroit neighborhoods than read about it or look at maps demonstrating various statistics. I’ve attached a picture of myself on the Wilkins bridge/I-75 overpass, and a silly picture my friends and I took at the Detroit Historical Museum. They are from pre-covid, 2019, and my hair is a lot shorter nowadays.

Em DeWolf
Em DeWolf 

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