Biological Sciences Major

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Alright, well I'll be applying to college fairly soon and I was wondering whether anyone here was majoring (or has majored) in a biological science field. If you could share your experiences (difficulty, level of interest, competition, etc) that would be great. I hope to go on to medical school afterwards. Another request, does anyone know where I can find college rankings for undergraduate biology programs? I've tried US News but they only rank graduate schools for specific subjects (except business and engineering in which case is ranked for undergrad as well). My parents were interested in finding some type of guide, some schools that I already know are strong are:



CalTech

MIT

Harvard

Stanford

UC Berkeley

UCLA



Now, all of these schools are most likely a reach for me. I have a 3.9 GPA (one AP credit so far in Calculus but I'm taking about 4 AP classes this year) with honors classes, 1460 SAT, and I'll be taking the SAT II's next month (for UC Schools). About how difficult is it to get into UCLA (which I imagine is the easiest of the six), note, I am out of state and Asian so I understand that it'll be very difficult (I've been told that it's harder to get into Berkeley than Stanford under these conditions).

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    How about ANU. Australia...



    ( Australian National University. ) Our dollar is about 65c to the US dollar...



    So your overall costs would be much lower...



    Our science courses are amongst the most highly sought after world wide..



    There is also Adelaide Uni..some of the most important research in genetics etc began there in the 1970's.. way ahead of most other faculties.



    My friend Dr Paul Kreig ( ex Adelaide Univ ), is now at University of Texas..Austin..he'd probably be able to give you some good advice...
  • Reply 2 of 5
    agent302agent302 Posts: 974member
    Actually, UCLA is about as hard to get into as Cal. Last year, UCLA had more undergraduate applications than any other school in the country (something like 45,000).



    As for in-state vs out-of-state, yeah it is harder to get into a UC from out of state, but Stanford, in some respects, is easier to get into from out of state because they look for geographic diversity.



    If you really want to be in California and do biology, you should also take a look at UCSD.
  • Reply 3 of 5
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by agent302

    Actually, UCLA is about as hard to get into as Cal. Last year, UCLA had more undergraduate applications than any other school in the country (something like 45,000).



    As for in-state vs out-of-state, yeah it is harder to get into a UC from out of state, but Stanford, in some respects, is easier to get into from out of state because they look for geographic diversity.



    If you really want to be in California and do biology, you should also take a look at UCSD.






    For the UCs it all depends on major. I applied for engineering at UCLA (rejected) but architecture at berkeley (accepted).



    UCs are just hard as an out of stater and being asian certainly doesn't help.



    Stanford is like 45% from California and one of the most applied to schools. I really don't think there is any advantage to being out of state unless you live in South Dakota and have those grades.





    When it comes down to it, none of those schools are a sure thing for anyone. It's all luck and selling yourself the best. Where you are right now you are academically strong. But so is everyone else applying. You need to figure out what makes you different and sell that and tell them why they should take you.
  • Reply 4 of 5
    toweltowel Posts: 1,479member
    My first advice is to pick a school where you'll still be happy after you change your mind and become a history major. Many (most?) people who start college as a Biology-PreMed don't graduate as one - not because they can't hack it, but because they realize they were doing it for the wrong reasons, and their true academic love lies elsewhere.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by jchen

    Another request, does anyone know where I can find college rankings for undergraduate biology programs?



    AFAIK these don't exist. I'm not sure what metric you'd use anyway - percentage of undergrad alumni that wind up in academia? How good are the grad schools and med schools the undergrads are accepted to? Those are probably good questions to ask during your interviews, but I don't think anyone keeps track of such things systematically (even the schools themselves). You'll be taught by the profs and TA'd by the grad students, so the strength of the school's grad program, med school, and research programs is a rough metric for the strength of their undergrad programs. Be careful, though, because excessive research money, while nice, doesn't translate into good teaching. You want a school where the big-shot profs will actually teach undergrads, but where there are still enough big-shot profs for there to be one in whatever research field you're interested in.



    That said, you can't go wrong with any of the schools you mentioned. They're all first-class for the sciences. I'm surpised you left one school off your list - Yale. I think it has the heaviest emphasis on undergrad education of any major biological research institution. Along with that great science eduction you also get access to all the other programs (and students) Yale is reknowned for. Yale is one of the few institutions where the top profs compete to teach undergrad classes - they are considered more prestigious and more rewarding than grad or med classes. Princeton also has an excellent reputation for its (smallish) biology departments, and WashU is striving to be the up-and-coming biomed school.
  • Reply 5 of 5
    billybobskybillybobsky Posts: 1,914member
    Not to tear away from the discussion much, but you should also try looking at some of the higher ranked liberal arts schools. For instance, Swarthmore's most popular major is biology, and the science majors tend to dominate major numbers at the better ranked liberal arts schools.
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