Is the biology major right for you?

Do not feel bad if you are questioning whether or not you want to major in biology for your BS degree, even once you’ve started. Four years is big commitment in time and money! You should think about your major seriously because it needs to be something that you can *mostly* remain excited about for 4 years. If you have started your biology courses, and are asking yourself if you’ve made the right decision, you are in good company. I hear this extremely often from freshmen and sophomores. If you find yourself miserable in your first few semesters, try asking yourself these questions:

  1. Are you happy at the school at which you’ve chosen to do your degree? If you’re just not happy with where you’ve chosen to do your degree, this is another problem entirely that may need to be addressed before you can even think about your major.
  2. Do you have any support from others for completing your degree? College is tough–no bones about it. It makes the times when you’re struggling so much easier to have someone on your side, routing for you. This doesn’t necessarily have to be family. Support can come from many sources: friends, professors, an advisor or mentor, a boss, a fellow church member, etc. But, if you find that you don’t know who support is coming from, try to find someone to talk you through the tough times. Once you’ve found someone, appreciate their help, and don’t let them go!
  3. Are you excited by (most of) the biology classes you’re taking? As a biology major, you’re going to be pretty miserable for 4 years if you aren’t excited about some of the material you’re learning. I’m not saying that you have to love every class by any means (I’ve never gotten very excited about cell biology for instance, or even certain aspects of ecology). But you should  be intellectually stimulated by lots of the stuff you’re learning in class. If you have to pause to think about whether or not you’re excited about biology, then maybe that’s your problem! It’s hard to get motivated to study if you don’t like the material. Ask yourself what you might like instead, and if you’re not sure, reach out to pre-major services at your university to get help figuring out in what you might like to major.
  4. If you are just struggling academically but are interested in the material, have you reached out to all the resources available to you to help you succeed? If you are struggling, go to your professor’s office hours. Get a tutor. Find online resources to help yourself. Make sure that you’re dedicating the adequate time to the material. If you’re not sure if you’re dedicating enough time, it’s probably not enough! If you need help managing your time, taking tests, etc., there are almost certainly resources at your university to help you learn how to do so–find them and get the help you need!

First and foremost, if you decide biology isn’t for you, know you are not a failure–you’ve just learned more about what your interests are, and how to pursue them! If you know biology is for you, keep reading.