Why Students Leave Science
WHY DO MANY American students drop the scientific careers which they have spent several years training for with reasonable success? This question is likely to seem more patriotic than scholarly to anyone who is a respecter of science both as an area of inquiry and as a method of scholarship. The missile race, with the values it expresses, has tended to put off any serious and disinterested study of what has been happening to competent youngsters who set out to become scientists in our society. Yet, quite apart from any imputation that students ought to have stayed in science either for their own sake or that of the nation, the self-image of the scientist and the relationship of his culture to that of the humanities, both in the academy and in daily life, is now a crucial issue in itself. The choice of a profession is the one commitment our culture really takes seriously: this is for keeps; it is not a matter, like love or loyalty, to be continually altered to fit new circumstances. Conflicts in this area, if they are serious enough to make youngsters change their plans dramatically and follow any discernible common pattern, are social phenomena worth studying.
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