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Should I consider changing my wildlife/conservation biology major if I am bad at math?

I want to pursue a degree in conservation biology or wildlife biology, and have been told by previous professionals that I should keep my grades up in science math classes. While I enjoy and excel in my science classes, I am not as good at math. I am able to maintain an A or high B in all math classes, however it has always been a difficult subject for me if it does not involve a formula, or some sort of defined rule to follow. I didn't think conservation biology would be as concentrated on math, but if it is, should I consider changing my major?
#wildlife-conservation #wildlife-biology #stemcareers #stem #choosing-a-major

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John’s Answer

While, yes, you will need math in wildlife biology, I wouldn’t let that sway your interest in wildlife/conservation biology. You’re going to have to take math classes for most Bachelor of Science degrees (as well as biology and chemistry). You’d need math even if you pursued a business degree. I’ve been in the conservation field for over 30 years and I can assure you that most conservation biology jobs require basics math skills - counting animals and plants, making tables with spreadsheet programs, averaging things, figuring out the number of animals per square meter, hectare or kilometer. You have to maintain a project budget as well, but that applies to most careers. Some conservation biology jobs will require more advanced math skills, particularly if your in research where you have to use statistics to calculate how much confidence you have in estimates of animals or samples. And don’t under-estimate your abilities - if you’re able to do A or B work, even if it takes work, you’re in the mix with most other students. Heck, you may find that you like math better as a wildlife biologist where you can see, tough and appreciate the math work you’re doing.

John recommends the following next steps:

Consider that you may be better at math than you think. It sounds like you’re doing better than average student.
Take a look at some wildlife management books, see the kind of math they’re discussing. There may be a lot of statistics, since text books cite a lot of research, but realize while textbooks cite studies and research, most conservation jobs aren’t research.
Look at other career fields and see if they require math also; there may not be a lot of difference compared to wildlife/conservation biology.

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Souxsie’s Answer

Hi Jazmin, I totally understand your predicament around math, I too consider myself challenged in all things related to math, it's always been a struggle for me. When I was in Architecture school, I had to take structures, which essentially was trigonometry -- calculating loads on building structures -- yikes -- I was bound to fail! A group of my friends who were in the same program and had similar challenges got together and hired a tutor to help us through. It was really affordable and kept us engaged and on track. If you're passionate about wildlife conservation and biology, stay the course, be proactive and find study group or tutor for support. Best of luck.

Souxsie recommends the following next steps:

Start a study Group
Hire a tutor for help with math. Your colleges/university may even offer tutoring services.

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David’s Answer

Hi Jazmin,

I would not change your mind based solely on that:  when I tested into college I tested at the lowest possible math level (my aptitude was that of 7th grade at the time) and my first two college courses in math did not count towards my GPA or any credit.  Over the course of my studies in biology, however, I still struggled with each of the math courses (alg., trig, and calc., 1 &2) but I was able to study with my peers and even had a tutor one semester in calculus 1, but by the time I got into calculus 2, I had a much better understanding and desire to know more.  I regret nothing about that and there were times when math was what I saw to be my biggest obstacle but even I was able to make it through.