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If you are in college and you're major is Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Neuroscience, or Molecular Biology, can you name the school you attend(ed) and what consisted of the curriculum In other words, why did you choose your major and how advantageous was it for you?

I am a rising high school senior and am looking for insight into different college majors. I want to get into med school. If you have any tips, please share!

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LaTausha’s Answer

I went to school in texas PVAMU and UTHSCA San Antonio. I majored in Biology and then got a post bac degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. I had intentions to go pre-med. I honestly think Clinical lab science is a better foundation for pre-med due to the diagnostic application of the curriculum, phlebotomy training, and its a working degree. The curriculum is nearly identical to life sciences.
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Thirada’s Answer

Hi Leslie! It's great that you're interested in the life sciences! I went to Northeastern University (in Boston) and I majored in behavioral neuroscience. I also had classmates with the following majors: biochemistry, molecular biology, and biology. At Northeastern, most biology-related majors have to take: general chemistry, general physics, calculus 1, general biology, organic chemistry, and biology project lab. Many biology-related majors (but not all) also take: biostats, biochemistry, genetics, and some other biology-related electives. This means that biology, neuroscience, molecular biology, and biochemistry majors share many classes. At Northeastern, that means you can switch majors fairly easily in first or second year. The one exception (at least at Northeastern) is marine biology, which doesn't seem to share classes with the other biology-related majors.

As a neuroscience major, most of my classmates were pre-med, though I am not. Luckily, I basically completed all the pre-med coursework requirements because it's part of the major anyway. Doing a biology-related major makes it easy to take all the pre-med required classes. The difference between the majors comes down to core classes, since the pre-rec classes (general biology, general chemistry, etc) are very similar. For neuroscience, I took classes about psychiatry, neuroanatomy, behavioral genetics, and psychology electives. You can imagine that a molecular biology major could focus more on studying bacteria and viruses if they wanted to (while a neuroscience major focuses more on the brain and behavior). What topic you want to focus on within the life sciences should tell you which major to choose.

As mentioned above, life science majors have a lot of overlap. I recommend focusing on taking the pre-rec/foundational courses first (including AP courses), and figure out what topic you want to study further. Check the websites of the schools/programs you're applying to, so you know what classes each major takes at that particular school.

One thing I want to mention: going to university in Boston made me realize that it matters where you go. Boston is kind of ideal for pre-med students, in my opinion (though I'm not pre-med!). Everyone I talked to has interned at a hospital, worked in a lab, done research at a biotechnology company, etc. It's because Boston has MANY hospitals that accept interns and part time student workers, MANY biotechnology companies that have internship programs, and MANY colleges/universities that conduct healthcare-related research. Opportunities for gaining experience with life science-related careers are abundant! When you're looking at which schools to apply to, check to see if students there have lots of opportunities to do internships, shadowing, part-time jobs, activities, or gain experience with the life sciences.
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Mary Jane’s Answer

Hi Leslie! Any of those majors are perfectly fine for attending medical school in the future. They would all provide you with a strong science foundation and prepare you to do well on the MCAT exam and in the first year of medical school. Ultimately, you should major in the area that you are most passionate about because you will enjoy your courses more and perform better if you are truly engaged in your studies rather than trying to check a box for med school.

There's no pressure to pick a major in high school; for all of these majors and the premed track, you are going to need some biology, some chemistry, and some math. I suggest you go in with an open mind and take some intro courses your first year to determine which aspects of science most excite you. At the end of your first year or middle of the second, as you start to hone in on areas you most enjoy, you can work with an advisor to chart a path to graduation and med school.

I majored in biology with a minor in chemistry at Truman State University in Missouri. I was interested in genetics and microbiology, so although I took a broad range of biology courses (ecology, organismal, molecular), my biology electives were mainly concentrated in the cellular, molecular and microbiology areas. I went to grad school at Oregon State, where I got a degree in microbiology with a minor in biochemistry. My degree focused on microbial genetics, molecular biology, and protein biochemistry. My academic interests largely focused on the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication and repair but I had no idea that's what I wanted to study when I was in high school. I knew I enjoyed STEM classes the most and I liked lab courses more than math courses, so I started with intro bio and gen chem my first semester of college. I liked those (bio a bit more than chem, micro/molecular more than ecology) and continued on down that path. Throughout my undergrad degree, I was in courses with premedical students because the prep for med school and the biology/chem/biochem major were quite similar, especially in the first 2-3 years.
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