Dr. Dixie L. Smith
Phone: 620-235-4732 Fax: 620-235-4194
Students often ask about what they should do in high school to be prepared to enter college as a biology major. It is important to realize that the biology major is a challenging curriculum with required chemistry and math and physics required or recommended in some areas.
Success in these university courses is actually less dependent on having had specific high school courses, and more dependent on their content and rigor. Successful students bring some facts and general knowledge with them, but more than anything else they bring a studious attitude, good study skills, and the determination to work hard. Surprisingly, high school biology, taken by itself, is a poor predictor of success in college biology. An easy time in high school can leave a student under-prepared for the college biology major. If you were not made to work hard in high school, you will have to make a transition to the college biology major.
A good attitude is important. But a good attitude comes from working hard. Satisfaction comes from achieving goals you had to work for. A good attitude is a mature view of learning - a desire to learn everything you can and not let minor complaints about the course load, the tests, the book, or the instructor get in the way of your achievement. And what about aptitude? You don't have to be a "rocket scientist" to be a decent biologist. While high scholastic achievement certainly puts you in the competition for some very competitive medical fields requiring post-graduate study, in most other areas a solid GPA and good technical skills will do.
Many students like biology and are drawn to it because of life experiences - love of animals, an encouraging high school teacher, a family relative or friend that is a health professional, or the love of the outdoors. While these experiences are a start, they must be accompanied by the ability to do well in university coursework.
Overall, the biology major is a very demanding curriculum. In the medical areas, even very qualified students do not always get into the professional school of their choice - the competition is great. Medical schools and physical therapy programs are full and many more students apply than get in. Consider alternative careers in health, some that may be achieved at community colleges. Visit our careers web page for links to your future in all the various areas of biology. See your high school teacher or counselor and be realistic when you evaluate your skills and interests.
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