Biology and Academics
Completing high school/12th standard and venturing into the world of higher studies is a benchmark in every student’s academic life. Decisions made at this juncture have a direct influence on a person’s career which will eventually determine how their life shapes out. Hence, they are generally accompanied by stress, anxiety and a string of undesirable implications on a student’s well being and happiness. This article aims to assist students who have decided to opt for a BSc in Biology degree in their quest to identify the right career goals, with the goal of reducing stress and helping students cope with the other social implications that come with pursuing a BSc degree.
Is BSc the right degree for me?
A BSc degree is often misinterpreted as a ‘backup option’- often students who aspire to be medical professionals and fail opt for a BSc degree instead, to pursue their passion using a different route. While there is a legitimate underlying logic to this, one must also consider whether a BSc Degree is truly meant for him/her and if they can regard this new route with the same amount of dedication, love and respect.
A BSc biology degree is the right choice for individuals who
Have an genuine interest, love and dedication for all things biology and satisfy the eligibility requirements prescribed for the course cut offs.
This point outweighs every other consideration. An open mind, an ardent interest in learning new concepts and a great deal of perseverance and patience are the key virtues that a BSc student should preferably possess. Biology is an especially demanding field because it entails a thorough understanding of processes that govern a life- an evidently complex study in itself that can prove to be tedious. Students are required to be physically and mentally fit to cope with the field and/or laboratory as well as course theory work they undertake.
Biology entails a thorough study of concepts. When learning about Cellular biology for example, a student is expected to understand and remember every biochemical interaction that a cell might undergo in its lifetime. This would include a complete histology of subcellular components. So, in that context, imagine you are studying the process of transcription; you are expected to know the underlying principle and role of genes, DNA and RNA, the types and functions of RNA polymerases (enzymes that play roles in the process), the formation of a transcription bubble and the entire process from initiation to post transcriptional modifications in great detail. There are entire chapters in reference books dedicated to this simple biological process, that basically involves copying a segment of DNA into RNA. Although just an exemplary sentence, this is an accurate representation of the depth at which studies in biology occur, in every field.
Go through the coursework: Once you have considered the above requirements, and decided that you have what it takes, the next step is evaluation of coursework. College and University websites put up the syllabus of every course they offer. Make sure you go through it to verify that your expectations are in line with what the course is offering.
As an example, if you are interested in Entomology, check the coursework offered by a BSc Zoology degree in your choice of Institution/College. This will also tell you if Entomology is a highly specialized course, whether or not you will have to do an MSc after your BSc degree and help you learn more about the kind of co curricular work in the form of internships/summer courses you need to do to embolden your path towards your dream career.
Take the right steps: Once you enter into the first year of your BSc course, start forming a clear vision of what you want to do next. Stay informed and updated about advancements in biology. If you want to pursue an MSc, make sure your grades stay at par with your future course requirements. In addition, start working towards emboldening your portfolio. Work experience in biology is as important as academic proficiency, and Universities/Companies will judge you based on co curricular achievements. Working opportunities for students come in the form of assisting your professor on a project/doing summer internship courses/ doing work in free time that is in relevance to the career you have chalked out for yourself.
Pursuing an Msc Degree: A postgraduate degree after completion of a BSc is a great opportunity for students who have proven to be excellent in academics and wish to step up their career opportunities by opting for a more specialized degree. It is also a key step for
Students who have identified their potential as research fellows and wish to launch their career in a research oriented field.
Students who wish to become professors/ educators in their field.
Opting for an MSc degree is a strategic decision to an extent, and the student must decide if their career will benefit more from an MSc degree or if they should embolden their work experience by opting to work instead. This decision is under the scrutiny of the student (and his/her parents or advisors).
Breaking out into a new territory: It has become also common for some students to opt for second degree or a postgraduate diploma/course/MBA instead of opting to pursue an MSc course. This is not in lieu with conventional practice, but students who have the conviction that they will benefit from the skills and knowledge they gained from their BSc course coupled with the new course of their choice may defy the norms and may achieve great success. Breaking free from years of conditioning and prejudice, however takes a lot of strength and the ability to make a calculated risk- a quality possessed by a breed of individuals that is rare.
Psychological well being and happiness: Assess yourself constantly, and remember that everything else loses significance if your psychological wellbeing is compromised. You might take all the right steps and still not achieve what you aimed for- and it is okay. Aims and achievements should strike a balance with your overall well being, not overpower everything else in life. Remember that what you’re doing takes immense strength, and you are not comparable to students enrolled in other courses, and vice a versa. There are chances that you are in for an academic life that spans years. Many of your friends and acquaintances may graduate and even start working long before you do- don’t make that lose your perspective. Keep working, keep your head high, and things will fall into place as they are meant to.
Bsc in Biology courses:
Apart from a BSc in Biology, one can choose from a variety of other related Subjects to pursue a BSc Degree in, such as
BSc in Zoology (3 years)
BSc in Botany (3 years)
Bsc in Microbiology (3 years)
Bsc in Biotechnology (3 years)
Integrated Bsc+Msc courses are also available in certain Institutions.
BSc Honours (4 years course) courses are available in certain selective Institutions.
In conclusion, a BSc can prove to be a highly enriching and rewarding course along with being commercially viable. Coupled with the right approach, a BSc in Biology degree can make students into strong candidates for higher studies, research or interdisciplinary careers depending upon their skills and temperament.