Majoring in science

ChosenByPasta
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Majoring in science

I'm 19 and in my 4th semster of college taking general studies and I'm trying to figure out what I want to declare my major as by the end of summer. I've read harris and dawkins. I've read some of the freethought classics and I'm worked up. I'm so in love with it that I want to dig deep into it, enjoy it, and fight for reason at the same time.
I've been considering a philosophy major, but I'm becoming more and more attracted to the idea of majoring in a science. The only problem is that my scientific knowledge is lacking immensely. I only understand some of the very very basic concepts of biology and how evolution works. I'm afraid that I will run into a brick wall, but I want to start preparing myself now. I'm lacking in effort and confidence because I'm not sure what I want to do. I just want to figure myself out now so I can put the other subjects aside as hobbies.
Is there anyone on here who can help guide me with my research to help me find my way?
What should I be doing if I am considering a philosophy or science major? 

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


Yellow_Number_Five
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ChosenByPasta wrote: I'm 19

ChosenByPasta wrote:
I'm 19 and in my 4th semster of college taking general studies and I'm trying to figure out what I want to declare my major as by the end of summer. I've read harris and dawkins. I've read some of the freethought classics and I'm worked up. I'm so in love with it that I want to dig deep into it, enjoy it, and fight for reason at the same time.
I've been considering a philosophy major, but I'm becoming more and more attracted to the idea of majoring in a science. The only problem is that my scientific knowledge is lacking immensely. I only understand some of the very very basic concepts of biology and how evolution works. I'm afraid that I will run into a brick wall, but I want to start preparing myself now. I'm lacking in effort and confidence because I'm not sure what I want to do. I just want to figure myself out now so I can put the other subjects aside as hobbies.
Is there anyone on here who can help guide me with my research to help me find my way?
What should I be doing if I am considering a philosophy or science major?

I'm happy to help you if you decide to go the science route. It's certainly not too late in your academic career to decide to switch to to such, but I will say that in my experience IF you want to do that you typically need to make up your mind by your sophomore year or so. You'll also need to be able to hack technicle subjects - chemistry, phyics, thermo, and the math (fairly advanced calculus in most cases) that goes with it.

A middle of the road route would be to go into education and concentrate in the sciences and maybe teach high school or elemetary science courses. If you want to make a career out of the sciences or releated engineering fields as an actual scientist or engineer, you won't be able to the avoid classes most students seem to dread. 

Check out the curriculum for the fields you're interested and the prerequistes they require. If you've already had calculus, physics, chemistry, etc in college or even in high school, you may be ahead of the game. If not, you'll be playing catch up; which isn't that big of a deal if you're bright and commited - many schools offer summer and winter courses sammiched between regular semesters. 

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Sorry for taking a long time

Sorry for taking a long time to respond...

Thanks a lot yellow, I'll be sure to stay in touch with you to fill you in on how I'm doing.

I spoke with a science advisor and I'm going to take one or two intro biology classes over the summer.

I've always been terrible with math and have no knowledge in chemistry or calc whatsoever. I'm much more interested in taking a biology/zoology path, which I was told requires very little or no math at all. If this is true, I might be able to make it through all of this after all.

Thanks again.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


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What Yellow advised is

What Yellow advised is pretty much the truth.  The thing about science is this...you have to LOVE it in order to do well in it.  You have to be willing to put down the beer and read.  To excell in  ANY, science field you have to be very disciplined, especially when you'll be taking classes such as Chemistry, Physics and advanced math courses such as calculus or statistitcs. 

 

I will tell you this....the intro bio classes are well... boring...they teach you the very basics but don't dwelve into much.  This is where you'll be learning about the properties of water, basic and I  mean BASIC biochemical processes, you'll learn about basic ecology, anatomy and physiology etc... Make sure you don't take an intro to biology class that focuses on Pre-med. 

 

Basically, what I think you should do is this: take some intro bio classes, see if you like them, and if you feel you're willing to put your heart into it..then go for it.  I will tell you that the more advanced classes in bio, for example, microbiology, or ornithology, evolutionary ecology etc... are great classes, that's where you'll start having fun, but you'll have to go through the pain of taking inorganic chem (usually 2 semesters) organic chem (usually 2 semesters) physics (2 semesters) and either 2 semesters of calculus or stats...  on top of cell bio... ecology, comparative physiology and anatomy etc..etc..etc... It's a great major and I would enocourage you to get into it, just be ready to get into some heavy duty studying that's all.  And if you love it, you won't mind studying for it. Just keep in mind the bigger picture...this is knowledge that's good for you and good for all. Smiling Good luck.

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Exactly Larry. I HATED math

Exactly Larry. I HATED math for the sake of math , more than anything else in my college career. Especially when you know that in practice, a computer could help you do the job or you could simply look up what you needed to know - but you cannot do that without a a fundamental grasp of the concepts at hand; you can look up a statistical analytic technique in a book, but if you don't know such a formula exists and have never applied it; you're shit out of luck.

Biology requires an understanding of chemisty (not a mastery of it, but you must understand essential priciples and techniques). To understand chemistry, you must be familiar with physics, and to understnand and apply physics, you must have the required math.

I've always hated it, but a math major friend of mine put it as such: biology at its core is more or less chemisty, chemistry is more or less physics, and physics is more or less math. It always comes down to math. And indeed, it does quite often. This is a ridiculous simplification, but it does illustrate that all of the core sciences require mathematic prophiciency, and that all core sciences require at least a basic understanding of other core sciences. It's simply unavoidable.

If you love the subject though, you manage to grind through the stuff you don't like quite so much. And at the end of the day, you at least end up with a respect for such a things as simultaneous differential equations. Thing is, in most cases, you'll have to hack through quite a bit of stuff you are not necessarily interested in or enjoy to get to where you want to go, and like Larry said, it'll be two years or so before you get to the really interesting stuff (when you hit your junior year, start looking to get involved in research or internships, either via profs or grad students or outside companies over semester breaks or during the semester - great experience, looks good on the resume, makes you a few bucks, and validates what you've been busting your ass to learn). I was lucky enough to get a bit of that BEFORE college, but I will say flat out, that you've got to see how the day to day of things will work to know if you really want to do such a thing for another 40 years.

I will say that you WILL have your nose in a book or your ass in a lab quite often, but you'll still have time to have a beer or two and enjoy college like everyone else does. You won't be able to party like a Communications major though.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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ChosenByPasta wrote: Sorry

ChosenByPasta wrote:
Sorry for taking a long time to respond... Thanks a lot yellow, I'll be sure to stay in touch with you to fill you in on how I'm doing. I spoke with a science advisor and I'm going to take one or two intro biology classes over the summer.

Cool, realize though, intro bio courses are quite dry. Lots of memoriztion, maybe you'll get lucky enough and get to sequence Drosphila DNA in a lab, but odds are, you'll be learning simple water chemistry, anatomy, taxonomy, and the basics of cell function. And like larry said, make sure it isn't a premed bio course. That's biology for mechanics.

Quote:
I've always been terrible with math and have no knowledge in chemistry or calc whatsoever. I'm much more interested in taking a biology/zoology path, which I was told requires very little or no math at all. If this is true, I might be able to make it through all of this after all. Thanks again.

 Zoology may one field where you don't need a heavy backing in math, but most schools don't offer degrees in zoology. You'll likely need a BS in biology, then you can specialize. At any rate, as larry and I have been telling you, if this is something you really want to do, you likely will not be able to avoid physics, chemistry, math and statistics. 

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

You won't be able to party like a Communications major though.

 

And that's the word of truth..hahahahahah.... Damn Mass comm. people.   This reminds me of a funny story.  When I was in undergrad, I was rooming with a dance major.  One day after being at the library for 4 hours, studying for an organic chem test, I came back to my dorm room to find all the furniture moved out of the way and my freakin' roomate doing flips all over the place and music blaring.  I said, Malik, what the hell are you doing? He said homework.  

 Ain't that a bitch.  The thing is...I could never do what he did and he couldn't do what I did...pick what you love and stick with it.  But do stay away from Mass comm.  hahaha.

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LeftofLarry

LeftofLarry wrote:
Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

You won't be able to party like a Communications major though.

 

And that's the word of truth..hahahahahah.... Damn Mass comm. people. This reminds me of a funny story. When I was in undergrad, I was rooming with a dance major. One day after being at the library for 4 hours, studying for an organic chem test, I came back to my dorm room to find all the furniture moved out of the way and my freakin' roomate doing flips all over the place and music blaring. I said, Malik, what the hell are you doing? He said homework.

I roomed with a business major (who now makes at least three times what I do), and he was awesome whenever he didn't annoy me to the point of physical violence. Whenever I got back from grinding something out at the lab, he'd tell me who won the hockey game in between bong hits.

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Wow, I don't know what to

Wow, I don't know what to say. Thanks a lot for the help guys. That was a lot of good advice.

 

Most colleges have tutors that can help you along the way, am I correct? 

 

I just feel really intimidated because I am lacking in scientific literacy and I'm worried that I will get myself into something that I can't handle. I have a lot of confidence though and this is something I really want to do. I'm just trying to push my political and social convictions to the side so that I can just learn and enjoy the study.

 

Anyways, I've been taking this intro course called a Survey of Science (and an environmental science course too) and I've been talking with my professor a lot on taking biology up. He has been helping me a lot  and is now switching me into this introductory chemistry course that he teaches. My enviro sci professor had a talk with me about her major in chemistry and physics as well. She said that I would do better in it and enjoy it much more than math I have already taken because it focuses much more on the science and what you are actually doing with it rather than just simply doing math. This worked out great for me because the science class I was already taking was irrelevant to what I need.

 

I signed up for an intro bio course over the summer today, but unfortunately I won't be able to take the lab for it. Not yet at least.

 

I have plenty of time until then and now I just want to focus on getting a head start and educating myself. I hope to stay in touch with the both of you on my progress and research. Is there anything either of you recommend I research until I begin taking intro classes?

 

Thanks again.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


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ChosenByPasta wrote: Wow,

ChosenByPasta wrote:

Wow, I don't know what to say. Thanks a lot for the help guys. That was a lot of good advice.

 

Most colleges have tutors that can help you along the way, am I correct?

Tutors and profs. Most profs are so elated that you're taking a genine interest and seem motivated that they will go out of their way to help you out - and that seems the case on your end. Never be afraid to ask them for help and advice, or even whether or not they think you could hack the subject matter. 

Quote:
I just feel really intimidated because I am lacking in scientific literacy and I'm worried that I will get myself into something that I can't handle. I have a lot of confidence though and this is something I really want to do. I'm just trying to push my political and social convictions to the side so that I can just learn and enjoy the study

That's what prereqs are for - you (proabably) won't be put into a class that you don't have the skill set to handle. Look at what the course load entails before you jump into something though. 

Quote:
Anyways, I've been taking this intro course called a Survey of Science (and an environmental science course too) and I've been talking with my professor a lot on taking biology up. He has been helping me a lot and is now switching me into this introductory chemistry course that he teaches. My enviro sci professor had a talk with me about her major in chemistry and physics as well. She said that I would do better in it and enjoy it much more than math I have already taken because it focuses much more on the science and what you are actually doing with it rather than just simply doing math. This worked out great for me because the science class I was already taking was irrelevant to what I need.

See, people will help you out. And yes, while I did need to learn a metric butt-load of calc to be an engineer, I also (eventually) got to see why I was learning all that crap and apply it to solving real world problems, building and designing things. It's only the math classes in and of themselves that suck. 

Quote:
I signed up for an intro bio course over the summer today, but unfortunately I won't be able to take the lab for it. Not yet at least.

Labs are where you'll really figure out if this is something you want to be doing. 

Quote:
I have plenty of time until then and now I just want to focus on getting a head start and educating myself. I hope to stay in touch with the both of you on my progress and research. Is there anything either of you recommend I research until I begin taking intro classes?

 Glad to help, I wish you well. If you need some background or a refresher in math. Not sure where, exactly, you want to focus yet, but I can recommend some textbooks regarding chemistry, thermodynamics and evolution. Math and physics and such, not as much.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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No need to worry

Quote:
I've been considering a philosophy major, but I'm becoming more and more attracted to the idea of majoring in a science. The only problem is that my scientific knowledge is lacking immensely. I only understand some of the very very basic concepts of biology and how evolution works. I'm afraid that I will run into a brick wall, but I want to start preparing myself now.

I don't know how different studying in US is from studying in Finland. When I started my chemistry major, we had some very basic courses about chemistry and usually most courses lay a foundation on former knowledge. So even if you don't know much about sciences (physics, chemistry, biology and so forth), the first courses should give you the foundation to continue succesfully to the more advanced courses. Just remember one thing: to success in your studies you don't have to be smarter than others, you just have to work hard. You are not studying to show your current knowledge and understanding, you are studying to increase and further your knowledge and understanding.


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Quote: Biology requires an

Quote:
Biology requires an understanding of chemisty (not a mastery of it, but you must understand essential priciples and techniques). To understand chemistry, you must be familiar with physics, and to understnand and apply physics, you must have the required math.I've always hated it, but a math major friend of mine put it as such: biology at its core is more or less chemisty, chemistry is more or less physics, and physics is more or less math. It always comes down to math.

 I must disagree. One does not require to be very good at math to study biology or even chemistry. Most basic calculations have division and multiplication.

If say that in biology/biochemistry, basic understanding of chemistry helps, but is not necessary. Physics and math are not really needed. Of course correct me if I am wrong, I do not have any biology studies and only few courses in biochemistry (which I do not really care about). My major is chemistry and minors computer science, math and physics.


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Thanks again guys. My main

Thanks again guys.
My main problem is my convictions. I'm very interested in science, but I'm also completely outraged politically. On one hand I want to take up science, taking part in politics here and there, or using science to do political things, but on the other hand I want to drop science and mainly focus on social science and activism. It's stressing me out and I'm not sure which path I want to take. I'm trying figure it out because I have to declare a major in 5 months. It's taking away my confidence because if I was certain on what I wanted to choose it wouldnt be holding me back from studying. I feel like I need to have a set out goal.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


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ChosenByPasta wrote: Thanks

ChosenByPasta wrote:
Thanks again guys.
My main problem is my convictions. I'm very interested in science, but I'm also completely outraged politically. On one hand I want to take up science, taking part in politics here and there, or using science to do political things, but on the other hand I want to drop science and mainly focus on social science and activism. It's stressing me out and I'm not sure which path I want to take. I'm trying figure it out because I have to declare a major in 5 months. It's taking away my confidence because if I was certain on what I wanted to choose it wouldnt be holding me back from studying. I feel like I need to have a set out goal.

Well, good luck to you. Both avenues are admirable pursuits if done for the right reason. I'd personally say that a scientific career would be more hands on and more fun, but I'm obviously biased and not speaking from a point where I could honestly compare the two.

There are ways to combine such jobs though - such as a political lobbiest or what not.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:
ChosenByPasta wrote:
Thanks again guys.
My main problem is my convictions. I'm very interested in science, but I'm also completely outraged politically. On one hand I want to take up science, taking part in politics here and there, or using science to do political things, but on the other hand I want to drop science and mainly focus on social science and activism. It's stressing me out and I'm not sure which path I want to take. I'm trying figure it out because I have to declare a major in 5 months. It's taking away my confidence because if I was certain on what I wanted to choose it wouldnt be holding me back from studying. I feel like I need to have a set out goal.

Well, good luck to you. Both avenues are admirable pursuits if done for the right reason. I'd personally say that a scientific career would be more hands on and more fun, but I'm obviously biased and not speaking from a point where I could honestly compare the two.

There are ways to combine such jobs though - such as a political lobbiest or what not.


Hahaha, right on man. Yeah it's going to be a tough decision, but I'm leaning much more towards science. I'm learning that I can persue everything I need to, but there's no reason to give up my passions. I can still be an activist and study biology. I just have to make sure I keep my priorities straight.  It seems like there is a lot I can do politically (specifically with the environment) with science anyways. 

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


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MisterDax

MisterDax wrote:

Quote:
Biology requires an understanding of chemisty (not a mastery of it, but you must understand essential priciples and techniques). To understand chemistry, you must be familiar with physics, and to understnand and apply physics, you must have the required math.I've always hated it, but a math major friend of mine put it as such: biology at its core is more or less chemisty, chemistry is more or less physics, and physics is more or less math. It always comes down to math.

I must disagree. One does not require to be very good at math to study biology or even chemistry. Most basic calculations have division and multiplication.

If say that in biology/biochemistry, basic understanding of chemistry helps, but is not necessary. Physics and math are not really needed. Of course correct me if I am wrong, I do not have any biology studies and only few courses in biochemistry (which I do not really care about). My major is chemistry and minors computer science, math and physics.

Sequence the DNA of several subjects and analyze it to the point where you can draw valid conclusions and support them. You need a FIRM grasp of statistics for that. 

You don't need math to be a lab monkey, you DO need math to make sense of data though. You ALSO need that math and knowledge to plan out experiments and data collection efficiently. That's the difference between a technician or lab assistant and an actual scientist or engineer.  

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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