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  • Writer's pictureHarpal Kochar

From Lab Coats to Literature: Cultivating well-rounded STEM Students

Fireside chat with SK Mentor Tessa Conrardy

The conversation revolved around mentorship and essay-writing strategies in STEM education. Tessa emphasized the importance of connecting students with the right resources and providing emotional support, the value of humanities and social sciences for STEM students, and the need to consider interdisciplinary approaches in addressing the social implications of technological advancements.




Why STEM students should engage with humanities and social sciences.

Empirical evidence supports the importance of humanities and social sciences for college preparation and future success. Harpal agreed, citing the value of humanities in developing critical thinking and analytical skills.


College admissions, GPA, test scores, and story criterion.

• The importance of storytelling in college applications, illustrating examples from humanities subjects to illustrate how students can bring their perspectives to life.

• The importance of demonstrating problem-solving skills and awareness in college applications, citing examples from her experiences.

• There is a need for applicants to show engagement with history, social sciences, and literature.


How to engage with humanities classes as an engineer or pre-med student.

• Admissions officer seeks connections between personal experiences and broader historical contexts.

• Developing effective writing and critical thinking skills early on will be crucial for success in any career.

• How can mentors encourage students to attend humanities classes, ways to sharpen intellectual curiosity, citing examples

• Wasy to identify a personal lens through which to approach course material, leading to more engaged and better work. Students often lack the initiative to propose their own interpretations of course material, leading to disinterest and poor performance.

• Showing interest and initiative can lead to more relevant and well-written work, even in classes unrelated to one's primary interests.


Using humanities to solve social problems in STEM fields.

• Engineers and pre-med students could build exciting research projects by analyzing the Great Depression's impact on innovations in technology and health.

• The importance of bringing humanities and social sciences perspective to the college application process can make a vital difference.

• Tessa cites an example of a friend who studied biology but is also well-read and engaged with current events. The friend discovered a creative solution to tuberculosis treatment in developing countries.


The value of interdisciplinary approaches in STEM fields.

• The importance of engaging with current events and social problems in STEM fields, citing examples of students who have done so and achieved success.

• Research on public policy has the potential to make one a more exciting and desirable person, citing examples of policy changes and inflection points in the discussion.

• How the history of science degree at Harvard is popular among pre-med students who want to engage with STEM classes and explore how medicine has interacted with other spheres over time.

• Students tend to do well in medical school applications due to their unique perspective and knowledge beyond conventional STEM students.

• Encourages STEM students to think about how their fields impact people's lives and explore interesting questions and problems.

• Tessa expressed concern that some STEM students may be unable to distinguish between good and bad writing, which could be concerning for their future careers.



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