Advice from biology/chemistry majors

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by anna02, Apr 24, 2002.

  1. anna02

    anna02 Member

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    Hi-
    I'm currently a biology major but am seriously contemplating changing my major to chemistry because I have greatly enjoyed my gen chem class in comparison with my intro biology class. I realize how early in the game I am, having only taken general chem and intro to biology, yet next year I will start taking my upper level bio courses, so I want to make sure I definitely want to be a bio major before I commit myself to the upper level bio classes. So, for those who are/were chem majors, tell me what you love most about your major and why I should switch or else persuade me to stay a bio major. Bio majors please share your advice on the upper level bio courses..whether or not they or interesting or just piles of information to simply memorize like my into bio class.
    Thanks-
    Anna
     
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  3. rajneel1

    rajneel1 Senior Member

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    why be a chem major? i think bio is easier!
     
  4. vyc

    vyc Senior Member

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    :) or how about biological chemistry? :)

    i really like biology AND chemistry so this major was perfect for me. i got to take courses in both departments, many of which overlapped with premed requirements anyway. two birds with one stone!

    with chemistry, you should be prepared for much more analytically- and mathematically- based classes.
    at least at my school, i know the chem majors have to take more math, the same physics track as physics majors, and courses like PCHEM.

    pchem is hell.
     
  5. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat

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    I liked gen chem and o-chem a lot, but physical and analytical chemistry sucks, in my opinion. And you have to take them as a chem major (at my school). I'd say go with biology, because there is more choice of classes (at my school).
     
  6. PunkRockDoc

    PunkRockDoc Senior Member

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    Why not do the hybrid and check out biochem?

    I was a chem major, and I loved it. I really dug all of the theory and such. P Chem is hell, though, as well as some of the quantam chem classes you may take (really interesting, but tough). In the end, either major is fine for med school. The only possible advantage of having a chem degree over bio is that there are more applicants with bio majors than chem degrees (so it would set you apart a bit). Does that make a huge difference? Maybe not.

    Go with what you love. Take a few more bio and chem classes. How soon do you really need to declare your major?
     
  7. anna02

    anna02 Member

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    Thanks guys for replying.

    rajneel1~ From my amateur experience with chem and bio, chem has been so much easier--maybe that's because I've had bio professors from hades? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> I dunno...

    vyc~ Hmm.. biological chemistry.. is that basically the same as BioChem? If its the same, I have genuinely thought about that too. The downfall though, is same as regular chem majors, biochem majors have to take both PChem 1 and PChem 2... plus biochem takes the bio classes.. so I would end up taking a few more classes than I would if a regular chem major. That doesn't really matter..but it is something to think about. Did you have to take PChem 2 with your major?

    bjc~I will be transferring next year to a pretty small 4 year college; therefore, there is not an extreme amount of majors to choose from, nor is there a large variety of classes to take, whether it be biology or chemistry. So, choosing biology for the diversity of classes would not be a choice for me. I would have to choose biology or chemistry based on my love for the subject, and right now..chemistry is winning out. Although, I have heard such horror stories about PChem.. and that kinda scares me away from committing to chemistry. Were you a chem major?

    PunkRockDoc~ I have seriously considered biochem. I am just scared about taking both PChem 1 and 2. Although, I think biochem would be the perfect blend of bio/chem. Yes, I really think I do need to take a few more bio/chem classes to really find out which major I enjoy more. And, to possibly see if my growing hatred toward biology is because of my teachers or if it is the subject itself. I will need to declare my major by, hmm.. next spring definitely.

    Thanks everyone! <img border="0" alt="[Clappy]" title="" src="graemlins/clappy.gif" />
    Any more suggestions?
     
  8. mongoose

    mongoose Banned
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    anna, here is my 2 cents:

    To me, Biology is far too much memorization. I don't like to be pinned up in some corner with a book trying to memorize the krebs cycle or whatever (before everyone slams me, you should know that I realize I will have to do this in med school. At that point, I consider it a necessary evil.) I like chemistry because of the analytical reasoning required of the major. You actually need to be able to think and analyze rather than memorize. That is why I like chemistry so much. And I admit that analytical was a bit anal (well, the lab was anyway). But it is also very interesting and really stretches your thinking at times. Now, the lab was kinda tedious. Measuring things out to 4 or 6 decimal places past the gram? I have a hard time relating to that. And our analytical lab grade was based on how accurate our results were, so that made it more stressful. I also admit that P.Chem is hard at times. It is a bunch of math, calculus in particular. I absolutely abhor calculus, but I willingly admit that it is an absolutely amazing subject. I just don't enjoy it. I took Biophysical chemistry instead of regular P.Chem. to minimize the amount of math I had to devour and it has worked out well. Maybe your school has a biophysical or comparable p.chem substitute. P.Chem is the culmination of oodles and oodles of knowledge and ideas from all your chemistry classes, and I have a feeling that is why some people have trouble with it. Anyway, that is enough for now...if you have questions, comments, or mental traumas feel free to pm me or post here or whatever. hope this helps.
     
  9. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper

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    Hmmm... Let's see.

    Bio: Doesn't require P Chem.
    Chem: Requires P Chem.

    Seems like a no brainer to me. :) I would never have elected to be a chem major had I known how difficult P Chem II would be! NEVER!!!

    Seems to be a trend in this thread.

    Down with P Chem!!!
     
  10. hey what do you all think of physics as premed major? or perhaps major in bio, minor in physics?

    also this idea of finishing your classes so you have the last semester off sounds great. it would be awesome to get accepted to med school in january and have the rest of the year to be a bum!
     
  11. daisygirl

    daisygirl woof

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    I knew Bubba would respond to this one <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    I was initially a bio major and wound up switching to chem because I enjoyed the challenge of chem; I felt that it was more difficult for me than bio. I don't regret the choice, however, sometimes I wished that I stuck with bio b/c it (well at least at my school) is so much easier. P-Chem is a course that must have been written by the devil, even so, I did enjoy it a great deal-it is very interesting. I HATED p-chem lab (it was so brutal, I took an incomplete that I am still in the process of completing :mad: ). Do what you think will make you the most happy. I know if I had to do it all over again, I would not even major in a science. Instead I think that I would have rathered majored in the humanities. I am going to have science up the gazoo in medical school (not that I don't love science...well not now at least :rolleyes: ).
     
  12. anna02

    anna02 Member

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    mongoose~
    I really enjoyed hearing your input on this situation; thank you for replying. I totally agree with you that biology is too much memorization. Compared with my bio class, chem has been so much more fun. I admit I am scared to switch to chem because I don't want to ruin my GPA. I always loved math in high school and believed I was really strong in it... well.. last summer I marched into precalculus at college (my first ever college class).. I expected an A, but came out with a B. I am taking calculus this summer and because of my grade in Precalculus, I guess I am afraid of doing a repeat in Calculus. And I realize how much chemistry depends upon calculus or other quantitative measures... although I love that aspect of it, I don't want to sacrifice my GPA. But.. then again.. I would rather be happy as a chem major making a B once in awhile than a frustrated bio major. So, thank you for your sharing your views... it really shedded some light on my problemo. :D
     
  13. Aeromonas

    Aeromonas Member

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    I'd go with Biochem. It's fun and you'll see it again in med school.
     
  14. moo

    moo 1K Member

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by borya_2002:
    <strong>hey what do you all think of physics as premed major? or perhaps major in bio, minor in physics?

    also this idea of finishing your classes so you have the last semester off sounds great. it would be awesome to get accepted to med school in january and have the rest of the year to be a bum!</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Well I started out in physics, but ended up graduating math/physics. I can tell you that right now, I feel a lot of animosity toward physics. If you like math, and I mean pure math, go with a math degree. Physics is just a lot of approximations and unless you are extremely intuitive (something I'm lacking), go with math. As far as I'm concerned, math is a lot more fun than any of the sciences. No labs, act like an arts student, but also bump up your SGPA.
     
  15. anna02

    anna02 Member

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    Bubba Swamp~ Yeah, I've read your posts many times on how hellish PChem has been. Sure, it seems like a no brainer to choose bio over chem. But.. I really don't want to spend the next few years of my life hating bio... But, other than PChem... what was so bad about being a chem major??

    daisygirl~ I would like to experience the challenge of chem too.. Will I regret it if I change to chem?? Hmm... maybe once I experience the Pchem devil as ya'll say... All of this talk about how hard pchem is has me really wanting to try it out for myself <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> Good luck completing your pchem lab!
     
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  17. leorl

    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    I'm a biology major and also once contemplated switching to chemistry, since I enjoyed it. My main deterrent was that the upper level classes in the chemistry major all looked rather boring. So, I stuck with bio. Perhaps you could do a biology major (some upper level bio classes do sorta help on the MCAT), but have a minor in chemistry?
     
  18. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper

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    Anna,

    I was once (a long long time ago) a microbiology major. I made the switch my freshman year to chemistry. Aside from P Chem II, it hasn't been all that difficult. Chem comes naturally to me (yes, I'm a freak). Here are some probs I've experienced:

    1) Labs are VERY time consuming. Gen chem lab and Orgo lab were cake because they were made easy for the sake of the many bio majors that must take them as a premed requirement. In analytical lab, I had to prepare 8 papers (not too bad). In instrumental analysis lab, I had to prepare 10 papers. In p chem lab, I had to prepare 12 papers (current students only have to prep 6, damn them!). Each paper was about 15 pages in length. As you can see, this can be HELL. I don't really think you'll have to do anything nearly as time consuming as a bio major.

    2) P Chem SUCKS!!! Actually, only P Chem II sucks. P Chem I wasn't that bad, and the lab (with the exception of the many many papers) wasn't that bad.

    3) Some of the professors are a little strange. People who go to chem grad school aren't wired the same way as "normal" (read: sane) people are. I've noticed that most of the older profs are extremely cold.

    Yes, it is more challenging than bio. Don't think you are going to win brownie points for this with the ADCOMs, though, cause you won't. All they want to see is a high GPA. Fortunately, I haven't suffered too much in that department (my one and only C was in a chem class :( ).

    Good luck!

    DOWN WITH P CHEM!!!
     
  19. hawkeye21

    hawkeye21 Junior Member

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    I had much the same feelings toward gen. chemistry because it forced you to think rather than simply memorize. It is my opinion that biology grads may have a better ability to memorize facts...but chemistry majors have the better ability to analyze and think through things. What kind of person are you? If you are analytical...definitely go with chemistry. If you enjoy memorization go with biology.
    Like everyone else says, P-chem is a devil of a course. Don't let one course be the impetus behind your choice of a major though.
    One last note. Biochemistry isn't necessarily the best choice of a major for someone caught between chemistry and biology. It does require large amounts of memorization and analytical ability...but it may bore you. If you're a chem. major...you can always switch to a biochem. later in your college career.

    That's my 2 cents.
     
  20. mongoose

    mongoose Banned
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by anna02:
    <strong> All of this talk about how hard pchem is has me really wanting to try it out for myself</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">With this kind of mindset, you can do anything. I am now convinced you should be a chemistry major.
     
  21. Forensic Chick

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    Anna,

    During my academic career, I've been both a chemistry (1/2 a year) and Biology major (year and a 1/2). I decided to scrap both majors and do something that I really enjoyed - and taking the pre-med requirements as necessary. Unless bio, chem or physics is your absolute life's dream, don't waste your undergrad years doing something that you don't enjoy. The med school pre-reqs will prepare you for the MCAT - and seemingly you've already finished up half of the requirements in gen chem and bio. O-chem (west coast thing) is either extremely easy or impossible for people - hopefully for you it's easy - but after taking those classes, I was thankful for changing my major so I didn't have to deal with p-chem or evolutionary biology and genetic analysis for that matter.

    Best of luck and do what ever you enjoy!
     
  22. i looked at syllabus of pchem and some other classes. and pchem is like an easier version of analytic math which is an easier version of quantum mechanics, which is an easier version of laser physics or other upper physics elective!!

    i think i'd also like classes like gen chemistry and gen physics, differential equations, and intermediate mechanics, perhaps i could even handle quantum mechanics. but where there are lots of proofs and theory-analytic math and any physics elective, i'd be totally screwed.
    so i really hate advanced math. perhaps i could major in biology and minor in physics then?
     
  23. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by borya_2002:
    <strong>i looked at syllabus of pchem and some other classes. and pchem is like an easier version of analytic math which is an easier version of quantum mechanics, which is an easier version of laser physics or other upper physics elective!!

    i think i'd also like classes like gen chemistry and gen physics, differential equations, and intermediate mechanics, perhaps i could even handle quantum mechanics. but where there are lots of proofs and theory-analytic math and any physics elective, i'd be totally screwed.
    so i really hate advanced math. perhaps i could major in biology and minor in physics then?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">P Chem II is essentially the same thing as Quantum Mechanics.
     
  24. well then how is p chem 1 different? in either one you have to do proofs instead of algebra!
     
  25. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by borya_2002:
    <strong>well then how is p chem 1 different? in either one you have to do proofs instead of algebra!</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Proofs???

    Anyway...

    P Chem I:
    Gas Laws
    Entropy
    Enthalpy
    Gibbs Energy
    etc, etc, etc...
    easy stuff

    P Chem II:
    Quantum Mechanics
    Term Symbols
    Group Theory
    Molecular Orbitals
    Bonding
    etc, etc, etc...
    sh!t that's hard as hell

    I haven't had algebra since the 8th grade! :) P Chem II deals with some calc and a lot of diff EQ, which I haven't taken. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Frown]" src="frown.gif" />
     
  26. thanks for the info.
     
  27. anna02

    anna02 Member

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    Thanks everyone for your insight. Advice from others helps to put everything into perspective for me. I'll give this whole chem/bio major thing a lot more thought, but I know I'll make the right decision. I have been trying to put together my schedule for next fall and don't know whether to sign up for bio classes or chem classes, but I have faith that everything will fit together soon enough.

    Anna <img border="0" alt="[Lovey]" title="" src="graemlins/lovey.gif" />
     
  28. lola

    lola Bovine Member

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    Go with what subject interests you the most. I gave up on bio after 2 bad courses and professors in college. My chem profs were great, so I decided to go that route. I majored in chemistry, and by the end of college I realized my heart wasn't really in it. So... here I am now, 5 years later, wishing I'd stuck out the bio thing. I gave up on med school, because my bio classes were so bad and I felt like I was incapable of being a good doctor. Then I had a great physiology class in grad school and once again realized how interested I am in biology.
     
  29. trouta

    trouta Senior Member

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    Dont get discouraged by biology. I was a bio major and found it to be incredibly interesting. At least at my school, the upper level courses got much more in depth and began to explain things much better. By specifying the topics we could look at things so much more closely and all the lights started coming on. Biological systems are incredibly fascinating if you can get beyond the basics.

    Stick with Bio!
     

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