I remember being in Grade 12 and knowing that I was very passionate about biology, but I was unsure if I had what it takes to commit to studying science at university. Luckily, I met some key individuals who reassured me that I should pursue my passions. As a fourth year biology student who has experienced it all, I would like to share my responses to the questions I am most frequently asked by prospective students and give you some insight into what university is really like.
Is it really that hard?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question because it depends on your unique characteristics. At times, majoring in biology can be difficult, but at other times it’s a breeze. When you have a chemistry lab report due, a midterm in cell biology, and readings to do for an elective course all in the same week, it may seem like you will never make it though. But you will! If you are passionate about biology and the courses you are in, the work will be much more enjoyable, and not as difficult. Staying on top of test dates and when assignments are due, and using any and all resources available to you (which there are PLENTY of at Nipissing), will allow you to succeed.
Will I be able to have a social life?
Absolutely. As I mentioned before, planning and organization are important keys to success, not only for a biology major but for any university student. Will you be able to go out every weekend and still achieve high marks? Maybe not. In many biology courses, your grade is based off of a midterm, an assignment or presentation, and an exam. Aside from the weekly lab reports that are required for some first and second year courses, it may seem like you don’t have much in terms of “homework”. However, it is important to stay on top of your course materials by studying on a regular basis so that you don’t have to cram right before a test. By allotting your time accordingly, you should have time to meet up with friends, participate in extracurricular activities, and get some work or volunteer experience.
I’m not interested in some of the required courses. Do you have any advice?
My advice would be to remain optimistic. As a student primarily interested in biomedical science, I can’t say that I was overly excited for the mandatory plant course. However, while taking the course, I realized it really wasn’t that bad! I learned new laboratory techniques that are applicable to all areas of biology and looked at chemical processes in plants that are similar to those in humans. Keep an open mind, and remember that it’s only one semester. You may even discover that the classes you are least excited about turn out to be your favourites.
What can I do with a degree in biology?
Your career options are vast, especially with Nipissing’s broad degree in biology. Students go on to work for environmental agencies or pharmaceutical companies, become genetic counsellors or teachers, or continue on to professional schools such as medical, dental, veterinary, or law school, to name a few. Experiential learning opportunities throughout your degree, such as internships, research projects, and field camps, can really help you in deciding what career path you want to take.
Although a major in biology may not be the easiest, may require you to spend more time studying, and may push you to step outside of your comfort zone, it is all worth it. You’ll get to have classes outside, look at human cells under a microscope, be prepared for a variety of careers, and, most importantly, look super cool wearing a lab coat.