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Senior Having Cold Feet after College Visit (Biology/Zoology)


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#1 kilo90

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:08 PM

My senior daughter had strongly considered majoring in Equine Management but after some thought, started looking into a Zoology degree. She thinks (and she's right) that this will provide more job opportunities post-college. We did a college visit on Friday and toured the Biology department and scanned through the Biology texts in the bookstore.  She didn't say much but since being home she expressed concern that she might not be able to cut it. She did Biology and Chemistry at a co-op and both were very difficult classes. The Biology teacher had taught at a university before staying home with her kids. My mother-in-law who was a nursing major in her 40's said she didn't have that level of difficulty until her 2nd year of nursing. 

 

I don't want to poo-pah her concerns but I feel like she is just as prepared as most other college freshmen will be. She is a very strong student, although she struggles in math. That said, the math she had to do in Biology and Chemistry went fine. I was shocked that she did so well with the math side of the science.  Both the Biology and Chemistry classes only used the text as a reference and they rarely read full chapters and the tests certainly didn't come from the texts but from the lectures & labs. I hate for the textbooks she saw to scare her off if they are only used as a reference.  

 

My husband said she can give it a try and if it's too hard, changer her major. But she is our first child who fights perfectionism and that would devastate her. There is nothing else at that interests her at this college. The Equine Management degree is at another school.   

 

I guess my question is this.  Do most college biology classes start at a high level or do they ramp up and ease you into the tough stuff? I know it would vary on the college, teacher, etc, but I'm just looking for personal experience. (My degree is in music so I fulfilled all my requirements with math and got to avoid science. I have no experience with college science.) I don't want fear of failure to driver her decision.    If anyone has thoughts, I would be very appreciative. 

 

 

 

 



#2 G5052

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:19 PM

I took AP biology in high school and then had to take biology at a state technical college that didn't accept AP exams. The college course was very detailed with a lot of information to memorize, and the labs were tough. They scheduled them for three hours, but most of us stayed for four or five. They required formal lab reports in a lab book. The exams required that you sketch and label various things, which I found difficult to prepare for. I ended up with an "A," but I was wrong in thinking that it was going to be an easy class.

 

Locally at the community college, biology is considered the toughest science for similar reasons. I know homeschoolers who really struggled with it after doing well in high school biology. There it's considered a weed-out class for pre-nursing students because they have to complete both semesters before applying to the nursing program.



#3 Penelope

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:37 PM

What textbooks were used for the co-op classes? When you say that she struggles in math, to what extent? Will she at least complete precalculus as a senior and be ready to jump into calculus in college? You would need to investigate the course of study for this major to see whether the math would be a problem for her or not. Bio majors might require one or two semesters of calculus and possibly one or more statistics courses, but college algebra, for example, would typically not be considered college level math for science majors. Additional science requirements can be anything from a semester of chemistry (at a lower tier uni) to 3-4 semesters of physical and organic chemistry with lab, plus requiring a minor in another science (chemistry or microbio or something else), plus some physics.

The adjustment to college classes is a big jump for nearly everyone, as there is more material presented more quickly with somewhat higher stakes. Science majors are often taking at least two science courses with labs for their first couple of years, which can make things more intense compared to non-science majors who do not have the additional 6-8 hours of lab per week. Also, the courses for science majors are more difficult than the intro courses designed for non-majors that just need a credit for their general requirements.

I think that Biology is generally perceived as the least difficult of the disciplines of Bio, Chem, and Physics. If she is willing to study and work hard and can keep up with the math, she will probably be fine.

#4 amathis229

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 05:17 PM

I struggled with biology, too! Even though it was my most difficult subject, and I did not perform that well in it, I still made it into (and through) veterinary school. I agree with her decision not major in Equine Management. In my experience, most jobs in the industry are attainable through experience more so than education. Meeting with a tutor once or twice a week right off the bat might alleviate some of her concerns regarding the rigor of her coursework. Good luck to her!

 

 


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#5 kilo90

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 05:25 PM

The book they used for Biology was Biology by Miller and Levine (Prentice Hall).  For Chemistry, they also used Prentice Hall.  She is not taking Calculus this year. For the Zoology track, she is only required to take college algebra and statistic & probability. For that reason, we are doing a college prep math that solidifies algebra and reviews a variety of things.  Her major problem with math is that she has trouble retaining topics covered. She does fine with the chapter at hand but things covered last year are lost in the gray matter. This is very odd to me because she is a sponge and a walking encyclopedia when it comes to any other topic. We have used BJU math for years now and she works her tail off for a B. 

 

The degree requires 15 Biology classes and a year of chemistry. No physics. Over half of those bio classes would be right up her alley, though. She would get a minor is psychology.  She would have 2-3 science classes every semester, every year.  

 

I'm thinking of having her take the college algebra as a dual enrollment class this spring. It makes sense that those doing a Biology major would have meat-er classes from the beginning. Guess the assumption is that if you have chosen that direction, you are a Science-y person already.   (Kind of like folks taking Music Appreciation vs the freshmen music classes. Totally different) 

 

Thank you for sharing your experience, G5052.   It does sound like she's just got to decided if she's willing to put in the time and work. Not an easy track. 



#6 kilo90

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 05:32 PM

Amathis, I torn as to whether or not it's encouraging or discouraging to hear you struggled with biology, as well.  :tongue_smilie: Clearly, you are very sharp to have made it through Vet school. I think more discussion is needed about how much determination she has. Thanks for your reply!


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#7 hornblower

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 06:14 PM

I think she should go for it! 


Between my daughter (in nursing school) & myself, this house has been swimming in bio texts and microscopy and pathophysiology for a couple years now. 

It's not easy, but it's not impossible. Lots of memorization, lots of labelling, learn to draw (even if you can't draw - I can't. But there are entire youtube channels dedicated to demonstrating how to draw a bio sketch. Many of them are from India - in English. They seem to have some big bio exam that students there study for and the resources online are really helpful). 

 

Helps if you had some Latin because the names will make more sense. 

Bio is a field which has been changing a lot. There is tons of new material and understanding. In fact, our nursing schools won't take bio credits older than a few years because things keep changing - so that comment about a nurse who didn't recognize some of the stuff makes total sense. So much of it is new.

fwiw, I'm acing Anatomy and Physiology right nwo and if this frazzled 50yo can do it, she can too. :D 

My tips are: Anki flash cards, youtube for additional explanations, use the tutors if available, ask the lab instructors questions, don't fall behind.   I wouldn't let a textbook scare you. The professors are there to teach you, and often you only use small chunks of the textbook anyway.....  

If she's nervous before starting, she could go over the Youtube Crash Course videos (the ones by Hank Green) between now & then just as a refresher. 


(but I also think she should be open to changing up a major. Otoh, bio is so broad that there's a lot of wiggle room within the field about where to go - environment, plant science, zoology, mico, biochem, anatomy etc etc etc.) 

 

 


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#8 creekland

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 06:36 PM

If she doesn't go for it, what's her other plan?  Returning to Equine Management?  I agree with the assessment that this is a difficult major to make pay for itself via finding a good job.

 

I suspect she can do just fine in Zoology or Bio.  She should be as prepared as other freshmen coming in.  The main question will be if she will have the dedication to putting the time in that's necessary.  Does she know how to study?  Is she good at budgeting her time - still allowing herself some time to live and have fun, but also not putting studying off to the night before an exam?

 

Study buddies help tremendously.

 

And she should never think that her major going in is set in stone.  So many students have discovered jobs and/or majors that they didn't even know existed after going to college and getting a wider view of what's out there.  What if she finds something she likes better?  It's certainly not a "loss" to switch to that!  It's smart.  My youngest selected his school thinking Marine Science, but almost immediately switched to Bio.  Then he thought Theater.  He enjoys all of them, but he had to take a language and picked Arabic - falling in love with the language and Middle Eastern culture studies.  His major now is International Studies and he's on Cloud 9.  It never once occurred to him to start with that.  Oh, and he has two standing job offers already for when he graduates should he want to accept them.  For now he's going to see what else is out there between now and then, but it's a darn nice back up to have.

 

I tell students to have some sort of idea heading in to college, but to always keep their eyes open as so many spy something perfect once there.


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#9 MarkT

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 06:44 PM

You may want to research jobs available for Biology/Zoology majors if that is the primary reason for that major.

The medical fields are probably the best bet for jobs these days.

 



#10 kilo90

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 06:58 PM

Thank y'all for your thoughts and encouragement. I told her that most all degrees are going to have some classes you trudge through to get to the ones you enjoy. 

 

Hornblower, I'm so happy to hear that Latin could be helpful! She's doing a year of that this year through our co-op. All of your suggestions are very helpful. I will refer to them, I'm sure. 

 

She does know how to study and she is getting better at managing her time. There were several time I would say "don't you think you should be spending a little more time prepping for your Biology test?"  I would worry about her preparedness but she would get an A on it and shock me. Not that I didn't think she could well. I just thought she needed more time to prepare. Obviously, I was wrong. She seems to retain info (other than math) really well. She has always been a voracious reader. 

 

creekland, your son's experience is encouraging.  I actually thought she might pursue a degree that would provide international opportunities. We've lived abroad twice and she would love to go back. Maybe the door isn't closed on that coming into focus.    

 

I think her fear of failure is really controlling her now and it makes me sad. She's such a bright girl but is scared to make the wrong choice despite my encouragement that she doesn't have to have it all figured out. 


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#11 WoolySocks

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 07:26 PM


 

And she should never think that her major going in is set in stone.  So many students have discovered jobs and/or majors that they didn't even know existed after going to college and getting a wider view of what's out there.  What if she finds something she likes better?  It's certainly not a "loss" to switch to that!  It's smart. ...

 

I tell students to have some sort of idea heading in to college, but to always keep their eyes open as so many spy something perfect once there.

:iagree: If this is of interest she should have a go, but MANY kids change their major once they get a better sense of themselves and explore through other college classes.  I would focus more on working through any perfectionism and fear of failure.  You don't need to get straight A's through college.   Whatever direction, it will be quite a bit of work to get through. 

 

Is this your 16 year old?  Is she a junior?  Does she have time to try a dual enrolled class before heading to full time college.  That has done a TON for my kid's confidence.  And has affirmed to me the need for him to go to an at least somewhat rigorous school. 

 


Edited by WoolySocks, 12 November 2017 - 07:27 PM.

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#12 kilo90

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 07:48 PM

WoolySocks,  I need to update my signature...she is 17 and she's a senior.  She did one dual enrollment class last year and we're planning on doing a couple in the spring. It did help her confidence because I think she had the highest (or one of the highest) grade in the class of 40. 


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#13 amathis229

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 11:11 PM

 

I think her fear of failure is really controlling her now and it makes me sad. She's such a bright girl but is scared to make the wrong choice despite my encouragement that she doesn't have to have it all figured out. 

 


 

A few of my most favorite quotes from Winston Churchill:

 

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

 

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

 

And finally,

 

"Never, never, never give up."

 

:thumbup:


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#14 kilo90

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 07:58 AM

Great quotes! I will pass them along to her.  :001_smile:


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#15 Dotwithaperiod

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 10:12 AM

Yes, biology classes for science majors start tough and remain that way. There are easier ones for non science majors. Many kids call them weeding-out courses, it's similar for physics majors. And the accompanying lab can last 3 to 4 hours.

Edited by Dotwithaperiod, 13 November 2017 - 10:13 AM.


#16 ClemsonDana

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:58 PM

Biology classes are tough from the beginning. The Miller-Levine book is a good, tough one for high school, but definitely more will be added starting in the first class. One thing that I suggest is looking at several related majors and checking the course requirements. There can be dramatic differences between, for instance, a BA in biology, or a BS in biology. Microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and regular biology may sound like they'd have a lot in common, for instance, but there can be wildly different requirements. If she takes no physics, one year of chemistry, and algebra and stats as math, that is probably as 'not awful' as a biology-related degree is likely to be, in terms of outside science requirements.
Psychology pairs well with biology - the classes that the psych majors find to be hard are usually easier for the biology majors because they already know the science parts. As far as the textbooks being scary - they always are, all the way through your senior year, in science classes. In some classes you won't cover everything, or even close to everything, and they are a reference. In other classes, you'll know every bit of what is in the book (for the chapters that you do - you almost never do a whole book in a biology class), but it will have been covered in lecture, too. It takes a lot of work, but it's very rewarding to learn and understand so much. There is also no shame in changing majors. A degree in a science is a lot of work, and if you get into it and don't like it, it's best to get into something that you do like before you invest 4 years of effort into something.

And, funny story - I knew almost nothing about picking majors, and neither of my parents had 4-year degrees. When we went to orientation, they handed the students the degree program (list of classes to take each year) and the parents at the back of the room were given a copy. My mom says that my dad blanched when he saw what I was going to be doing. If I had known what it would take, I might have scared myself into choosing something different...so I'm glad that I didn't know!
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#17 kilo90

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 07:23 AM

That is very interesting. I didn't know you could get a BA in Biology.  The schools we have looked at haven't had that as an option from what I've seen.  It is definitely worth checking into, though, The Zoology degree gave you a choice of 2 minors one of which was psychology.  Thank you for mentioning that!   

 

That is a very funny story about your major.  I've told her, it's just one semester at a time with whatever degree she chooses. You don't take all the tough classes at once. :) 



#18 creekland

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 07:34 AM

I've told her, it's just one semester at a time with whatever degree she chooses. You don't take all the tough classes at once. :)

 

Not only that, but unless she is really at a reach school where her grades/scores are in the bottom 25% of class stats, she essentially has equal ability to all the other students there.  This doesn't mean all will have the same work ethic or desire - not all kids with good scores do well in college, usually for one of those two reasons - but it means she has equal (or at least similar) ability going in.

 

Many kids are convinced that they are behind the curve heading into college. All the other kids are smarter! There will always be some gaps here and there (for essentially everyone), but in general, if well matched to their school, that's not the case.


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#19 Hilltopmom

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 07:36 AM

My undergrad was in Bio. I loved it, but it was the Upper level Chem classes that made it really tough, IMO. The upper level bio course are hard but so interesting.
Psych minor too, then decided I didn’t want to continue working in a basement lab my whole life (paid for college by working as a lab tech at the hospital) and got my masters in teaching (special ed, not Bio)

Edited by Hilltopmom, 14 November 2017 - 07:37 AM.


#20 Angie in VA

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 07:45 AM

If she doesn't go for it, what's her other plan?  Returning to Equine Management?  I agree with the assessment that this is a difficult major to make pay for itself via finding a good job.

 

I suspect she can do just fine in Zoology or Bio.  She should be as prepared as other freshmen coming in.  The main question will be if she will have the dedication to putting the time in that's necessary.  Does she know how to study?  Is she good at budgeting her time - still allowing herself some time to live and have fun, but also not putting studying off to the night before an exam?

 

Study buddies help tremendously.

 

And she should never think that her major going in is set in stone.  So many students have discovered jobs and/or majors that they didn't even know existed after going to college and getting a wider view of what's out there.  What if she finds something she likes better?  It's certainly not a "loss" to switch to that!  It's smart.  My youngest selected his school thinking Marine Science, but almost immediately switched to Bio.  Then he thought Theater.  He enjoys all of them, but he had to take a language and picked Arabic - falling in love with the language and Middle Eastern culture studies.  His major now is International Studies and he's on Cloud 9.  It never once occurred to him to start with that.  Oh, and he has two standing job offers already for when he graduates should he want to accept them.  For now he's going to see what else is out there between now and then, but it's a darn nice back up to have.

 

I tell students to have some sort of idea heading in to college, but to always keep their eyes open as so many spy something perfect once there.

 

:iagree:  with finding a love once a student is at a school. My mus ed major found a deep love for music theory. *Cough* Freak! *Cough!*  :leaving:

 

JK....Sort of. This one hopes to get a PhD in music theory. One prof told me it takes a special person to dive into theory that deeply. That's my kid! We're so glad she found this love, though, and support her 100%. Just, you know, not financially. ;)

 

Great advice from Creekland (as always) and others here. 

 

Is it feasible for her to take any of those bio or chem courses over the summer? At that school? It'd be an intense time of it, but it would free up her schedule during the regular school year. and help lighten the load. I realize housing could be an added expense that might be a deal breaker for summer classes. 

 

Both of ours took many gen eds before going to college, but one took 2 required classes online before starting college. He is so glad to have those behind him. A hall mate is struggling in the first of those 2 classes now. When I asked ds what helped him the most for college prep, this is one thing he mentioned. 

 

(I am a goober and get "after action reports" from my dc about what I could have done better, what worked, etc. Yes, even from my baby/last student.)

 

Best of luck to your dd!


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#21 shawthorne44

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:37 AM

It could be the weed-out class.  But, that shouldn't dissuade her.   She could find out which textbook they use, get it now and self-study it before the class actually starts.  


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#22 pumpkin spice surprise

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:11 AM

Every school and class is different, and well-covered above, so:

 

Maybe take an interest class versus a major class to start with? Even if it is not biology, something like geology or geography or a non-major's "life science" class just to get engaged.

 

Biology tends to lend itself well to drawing/visuals, if that is something your DD is into-- diagrams, stick figures, those radiating thingies, charts... it might help things click a little easier than just "notes."  

 

For the math,  confidence is sooooo key, but most of the non-calc-physics stuff is Algebra 2/College Algebra level. So it would be good to do that again before needing it in science. Some people (hi!) need multiple repetitions in many ways to feel confident. She's definitely not alone. 

 

For chem, since it's so mathy, I would also recommend running through it with a "non-major" chemistry text, even if she just skims it. There are texts for allied health and non-majors that are less math, but give you an intro into the subject with some of the "core" ideas of the subject and how to do problems in it, but not be too much work.  

 

The other nice thing about non-majors texts is that they're more in depth than a review book and don't assume prior knowledge, but will come at the topics from a different angle than the "hard core" books. 



#23 daijobu

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:11 PM

It could be the weed-out class.  But, that shouldn't dissuade her.   She could find out which textbook they use, get it now and self-study it before the class actually starts.  

 

Watch out for this.  If there are a lot of premeds, it could be brutal.  

 

Then again, at my college, bio was relatively benign and it was chemistry that was weed out.  Can she speak with current students in the major?  


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