Hi, friends! For the next post in my “Becoming Dr. Aly” series, I wanted to expand on my previous post, “Why I Chose to Study Biology” and talk about my experiences as a biology major, including how I knew it was for me, potential career paths, common misconceptions about biology majors, and advice for future biology majors. Here we go!
How I Knew Biology Was For Me
I knew biology was for me when I was interested in my high school biology class. Biology, chemistry, and math came naturally to me. I loved (and I still do love) talking about what I learned in science class. I felt like that’s what my brain was wired for, so that’s why I chose to major in biology!
Potential Career Paths for a Biology Major
Among my group of friends, there are two major career paths you can take in biology: medical school or graduate school. Medical school prepares you to be a medical doctor (MD); seeing patients and prescribing medicine. On the other hand, graduate school prepares you for a career in research or in academia (PhD); working in a lab. I know some people who want to do both, an MD-PhD! Of course, these are not the only options, but those are the most popular. Other, less popular, options are pharmacology, forensics, government/policy, industry, economics, and science communication. Here is a more in-depth list of things you can do with a biology degree!
Personally, I am aiming for a PhD, because I want to pursue a career in research and academia. I am destined for a life in the lab, not in a patient examination room. So, graduate school is my option!
Common Misconceptions about Bio Majors
We all want to be doctors
More often than not, as soon as I tell someone I’m a biology major, they’ll ask me, “Are you pre-med?” Most biology majors are pre-med and are seeking to get into medical school, but not all of us. Some of us, like me, are pursuing a career in research, or in the other fields I mentioned earlier.
It’s too hard
I wouldn’t say that studying biology is hard. I would say that studying biology requires WORK and TIME. People consider biology a hard subject because it’s not something that we easily grasp. It takes a committed person to study hours and hours to understand a tricky concept. As long as you are committed and try your best, you should do well in biology.
Science is an analytical field, so it does not require creativity
The general public usually thinks of science as an analytical field, not a creative one. However, the goal of science is to solve problems and answer questions. How do we do that? By thinking up creative solutions and asking creative questions. We must be creative to come up with good hypotheses and good experiments to test these hypotheses.
Advice for Potential Bio Majors
Don’t give up
You will have some bad days, but that doesn’t mean you should stop! Please remember why you decided to study biology in the first place, and hopefully that will give you strength to keep studying and attending class.
If you’re struggling, there are many resources that can help you. There are no excuses for you to be struggling. If you need help in your classes, visit the tutoring center or your professor directly during office hours. If you’re struggling mentally, visit the campus counseling center. Take advantage of the resources your school offers you!
Actively seek out opportunities
Opportunities are not just going to jump out at you. Go to career fairs and student activity fairs to find out what’s happening on campus. Graduate and medical schools want well rounded and experienced students, so this is the way to do that. Especially as a biology major, working in a lab can be a help. Opportunities are available, you just have to look for them.