Degree choices?

Hey guys, haven’t posted in awhile but I thought up a question that I’ve been thinking about. I recently decided to go to UH Manoa instead of CSU Chico or Fullerton because their pre-med cirriculum just looks a lot better then either of the two schools I’ve been looking at, and it’d get me out of California.
My question is, would a marine biology degree instead of a regular biology degree hurt my chances of getting into medical school significantly or just marginally? The official pre-med reqs (year of physics, year of chemistry, etc.) are required courses for both degrees, and both degrees require you to take a course in biochemistry, but basically the difference is the degree in biology would allow me to take A&P 1 and 2, immunology, and histology w/lab as electives and the marine biology degree would not. However, I could just stay an extra semester to do those courses (atleast A&P 1 and the rest), but I’m curious whether that wouldn’t look as good on my transcript for med school?

Tim -
Here’s my input, and I believe others will echo it - major in SOMETHING YOU LIKE, not something that you think will look better to adcoms. As long as you take the pre-reqs and have a good GPA in them and your major, the adcoms don’t care what your major is. They WANT well rounded students. Statistically, biology majors have the lowest acceptance % to medical school of just about any major. (Of course, temper that with the fact that everybody and their brother who is pre-med major in Bio).
We have Spanish, Latin, religious studies, philosophy, engineering, Russion, Physics majors - a PhD in English . . . lots of computer tech people . . . you get the picture.
Now - if biology (or marine bio) really interests you, then by all means, major in it. But please DON’T choose a major based on what you think will look better to get you into medical school.
Amy

Well, the only reason it’s an issue for me is because I hear plenty of horror stories about how rough the first two years are and alot of med students say how they wished they had taken A&P and/or immunology beforehand…but yeah, honestly I would have a lot more fun with marine biology. I obviously don’t want to do it as a career, but to not take advantage of doing marine bio in a setting such as Hawaii I think would be a mistake if its not going to hurt me on adcoms. Thanks for the advice Amy.

Do I wish I had taken more classes, such as A&P and Immuno before med school - maybe, but not really. Would it have made life a little easier? Probably.
The med school curriculum is designed assuming that you will have the pre-req knowledge and aptitude to do the basic sciences, but nothing beyond that. Do I and my fellow non-science classmates have to spend a little more time than our science major classmates? Sure. But most of us still have a life and find time to spend with our families and significant others.
Let me put it to you this way . . . would you rather spend 4-5 years taking classes that don’t really interest you and you don’t really enjoy (and trying to do well in them to keep your GPA up) and have a LITTLE more free time during med school than some of your classmates, or enjoy your 4-5 years of undergrad, doing well because you LOVE the subject matter and have to spend maybe some extra time for the first two years of med school.
In all honesty, having a major you love and enjoy will help you out in interviews, because that will come across and they will know that you didn’t just major it it “to look good”.
Amy

Very good point, I’d rather enjoy the 4-5 years, considering that’s half a decade of school.

You can also plug in those handful of nice-to-have for medschool classes as electives in a degree program in pursuit of something you like instead of taking lots of classes like botany to be a bio or pre-med major.
Good luck,
Tara

I’m with Amy. Major is what you want, not what you think a med school will prefer. Med schools prefer broadly educated applicants, and what they major in isn’t a big deal. Just do well. :slight_smile:
Cheers,
Judy

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Well, the only reason it’s an issue for me is because I hear plenty of horror stories about how rough the first two years are and alot of med students say how they wished they had taken A&P and/or immunology beforehand…but yeah, honestly I would have a lot more fun with marine biology. I obviously don’t want to do it as a career, but to not take advantage of doing marine bio in a setting such as Hawaii I think would be a mistake if its not going to hurt me on adcoms. Thanks for the advice Amy.



Tim,
By all means, major in what ever it is that melts your butter! By doing so, you will perform better academicaaly, learn the material more in depth & not struggle to sustain your enthusiasm. If there are courses that you feel will enhance your med school experience or application, then take them in addition to the curriculum of your choice. Always remember - THIS IS NOT A SPRINT; IT IS A VERY LONG MARATHON! I say that as someone who very near the completion. And, I say that as someone who started out at a dead-run & wish that I had not.
Furthermore, gone are the days when med schools sought out 4.0 GPAs, 40 MCATs & nothing but Bio majors. In my med school class, we had very diverse educational backgrounds - including 2 people with degrees in classical performance (one was piano & the other was saxophone).
Besides, whow can argue with living in HI??? I LOVE HI & plan to retire there. I have been to Oahu 10+ times…would move there now were it not for family & friends being so far away.
Relax - best of luck & success to you.

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Always remember - THIS IS NOT A SPRINT; IT IS A VERY LONG MARATHON! I say that as someone who very near the completion. And, I say that as someone who started out at a dead-run & wish that I had not.


Would you mind elaborating some on the second part of that?
I ask, because I understand the first… I think it was the marathon nature that intimidated me for so long. Now that I’ve made up my mind, though, I’m going full bore ahead - and your statment seems to imply that that might not be the best route.

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Would you mind elaborating some on the second part of that?
I ask, because I understand the first… I think it was the marathon nature that intimidated me for so long. Now that I’ve made up my mind, though, I’m going full bore ahead - and your statment seems to imply that that might not be the best route.


I think I understand what Dave is saying, and that in a rush to get through everything, some things are done too quickly, or decisions made too hastily. However, I know from listening to that NPR interview with Dave (which was very cool, btw) that he was 29 when he started back in, and that’s still pretty young compared to me (39.5 when I made the decision and started pre-med). I had no time to waste and hit the ground at a sprint 2 years ago, taking between 13 - 16 hours of pre-med while working a 6-digit-income, high-expectations, programming job, and still being an involved father & husband…also got back an EMT (thinking I would need it to be able to volunteer and get an LOR from an ER doc), which ended up being kind of a waste of a semester, although it may look good on my transcripts to have that too, I’m not sure.
Anyway, I don’t regret hitting the ground running that hard. I wanted to show that I was capable of taking on a seemingly gargantuan amount of work and still pulling great grades and not letting any other parts of my life slack either. I got very burned out last semester (Calc based physics and org chem together assured that), but this semester it’s nothing but MCAT prep, and it’s almost like a vacation. I only have one semester of O-Chem left and I’m finished. I’ll be applying this summer, and probably take O-Chem 2 this summer as well, if I can negotiate some serious flex time at work, since there’s no evening O-Chem during summer here.
So I know I’m in for a marathon yet, but I’m glad I piled it all on so high this past 2 years. I proved to myself that I can handle a huge workload, and I actually feel like the concept of going to ANY school, no matter how hard, where I don’t have to work a 45+ hour week in a high-stress job at the same time, will be like skipping through the park, compared to this past 2 years. Ok, that’s probably hyperbole, but I am really looking forward to being a fulltime med student, not taking bull$hit, non-medical classes designed to test my willpower, and having 24 hours a day to apply myself to something I absolutely love to study: medicine.
Sam

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Well, the only reason it’s an issue for me is because I hear plenty of horror stories about how rough the first two years are and alot of med students say how they wished they had taken A&P and/or immunology beforehand…but yeah, honestly I would have a lot more fun with marine biology. I obviously don’t want to do it as a career, but to not take advantage of doing marine bio in a setting such as Hawaii I think would be a mistake if its not going to hurt me on adcoms. Thanks for the advice Amy.



Tim,
By all means, major in what ever it is that melts your butter! By doing so, you will perform better academicaaly, learn the material more in depth & not struggle to sustain your enthusiasm. If there are courses that you feel will enhance your med school experience or application, then take them in addition to the curriculum of your choice. Always remember - THIS IS NOT A SPRINT; IT IS A VERY LONG MARATHON! I say that as someone who very near the completion. And, I say that as someone who started out at a dead-run & wish that I had not.
Furthermore, gone are the days when med schools sought out 4.0 GPAs, 40 MCATs & nothing but Bio majors. In my med school class, we had very diverse educational backgrounds - including 2 people with degrees in classical performance (one was piano & the other was saxophone).
Besides, whow can argue with living in HI??? I LOVE HI & plan to retire there. I have been to Oahu 10+ times…would move there now were it not for family & friends being so far away.
Relax - best of luck & success to you.


Well it sounds like I’m not going to be suffering then over there. The only thing I wondered about Hawaii was non-resident tuition but UH Manoa has an exchange program that reduces out-of-state tuition to within $700 of in-state, and JABSOM’s non-resident tuition is equal to most med school’s regular tuition so I guess that doesn’t really matter.
Since you’ve been to Oahu a lot, what’s it like? I’m kinda curious about how the area is, so far I’ve just heard a lot of “Hawaii is great” but no real details on it.

Um, Tim… are you saying that you have NOT been to Hawaii? Are you REALLY thinking that you should move there for several YEARS without having checked it out? Oh, sure, it’s a cool place and maybe it will be perfect for you, but this strikes me as exactly the sort of “starting out at a dead run” mistake that Dave is talking about. It seems, to say the least, impetuous and I have to wonder why you think that uprooting your established life seems like a good way to achieve success in such a difficult, life-altering endeavour. Think hard about your current life, and the support systems you may have in place (and may not really appreciate). I have to be honest with you, all my alarm bells are going off at what seems like a whimsical and impulsive move. Sorry to be a downer but I do that sometimes. Please really think this through and consider ways in which you can “reality-test” this plan before committing to it or burning your bridges.
Mary

No, of course I’m going to check it out before I actually go there. But it’s not like I can live there for alittle while, or any place, before I move there so regardless it’s going to be an uprooting for me. I actually planned to go to Oahu on vacation anyways next year and while I’m there I plan to look at the local apartments, talk to a few temp agencies about work, and visit the campus.
I don’t really have an established life here that I will miss anyways, to be honest with you. I have hated living in Northern California in the entire sixteen years I’ve been up here, and would give nothing more then to leave this place. The only thing I would be leaving behind is friends, and I’m trying to convince them to come with me.
Don’t worry, I try to poke holes in any plan I make instead of try to find more reasons to do it…that way I find potential flaws instead of more perks, because the former is a lot more important. The only college I could go to close to here anyways is Chico, and although I plan to go to that campus tomorrow and check it out, I absolutely hate the city. Chico is nothing but a party town…over half the population (not just college kids) smoke weed and get drunk 24/7. Even if I did get a good education, I would probably hate living in Chico just as much as I do here in Redding.

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I am really looking forward to being a fulltime med student, not taking bull$hit, non-medical classes designed to test my willpower, and having 24 hours a day to apply myself to something I absolutely love to study: medicine.
Sam


That sounds good to me, Sam. I’m always impressed when I see how much effort people in situations like yours put into balancing their responsibilities - work, school, family, and everything else that goes on. I just have work and school, so I consider myself lucky
I’m also looking forward to the full time route. While I’m mixing two lab courses + work right now, next semester I plan to go to school full time and take Bio, Physics, and OChem. I figure it’s similar to what I’m doing now, just replacing work with a single course - not so rough.
I guess that’s my full speed ahead thing, too. I’m in a position where I can get by doing school full time for about a year, so I’d like to push hard for that, succeed in it, and move on with the process.

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Always remember - THIS IS NOT A SPRINT; IT IS A VERY LONG MARATHON! I say that as someone who very near the completion. And, I say that as someone who started out at a dead-run & wish that I had not.


Would you mind elaborating some on the second part of that?
I ask, because I understand the first… I think it was the marathon nature that intimidated me for so long. Now that I’ve made up my mind, though, I’m going full bore ahead - and your statment seems to imply that that might not be the best route.



Sure…at the time, I was so totally convinced that 1 year of age would make or break my application that I buried myself in college hours, 20 to 24/semester, plus working FT for the first 2 years (“slacked off to PT” for the last year), denied myself summer breaks & chose not to take some courses for the pure interest of it. I finished what should have been an intense 4.5 year degree in 3 years - BS in Neuroscience. At the same time, I launched, inadvertently, OldPreMeds & founded the Neurosience Student Assoc among other projects…and was an involved husband.
Essentially, I ran my batteries down to zero because I was afraid of a myth - that 1 more year of age would kill my chances of getting in. Because I did not/would not listen to others’ advice, I lost an opportunity to savor the luxury of going back & walloing in my education. I missed taking courses in the arts - something I am now learning about through my wife, who is a developing artist. And, I put myself & those I love through harder times than were necessary. All because I bought into a myth.
Those are my regrets…

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Since you’ve been to Oahu a lot, what’s it like? I’m kinda curious about how the area is, so far I’ve just heard a lot of “Hawaii is great” but no real details on it.










As Mary wisely - Mary is always wise - points out…go there & check it out before you commit to moving! Like all places, it has pluses & minuses.





Honolulu - much like any other big city…except they drive incredibly SLOWLY! Interstate speed limits are like 50…and people OBEY! The city is fairly dense, dirty in places - areas you had best not get caught in & others that are obviously populated by fantastic wealth. But, there are palm trees, banana trees, coconut trees & mango trees growing wild downtown. As a general rule, the people are about friendly & approachable as in any other large metro area…and there are tons of people of Asian descent. The culture in Honolulu is predminantly an admixture of Asian & Polynesian - personally, I found it fascinating; however, some folks might not like integrating. Everything is mostly informal - the anchors on TV don’t even wear ties! Very very few restaurants require dressy attire.





Outside of Honolulu - breathtakingly gorgeous mountains, rain forest & coastal plains. Terrain is quite rugged & predominantly volcanic rock (black, light & porous). The foliage growing randomly on the roadside is more beautiful than anything I’ve even seen growing in a botanical or meticulously maintained garden. What dirt there is is red/clay - sticks to EVERYTHING! The western side of the island is table-top flat & is where all of the pineapple fields are. By the way, once you taste what real, fresh pineapple tastes like, you will never again eat the $hit out of a can!





The island is SMALL!!! Long axis ~ 50 miles & short axis ~30 miles…you can’t get lost! There are beaches everywhere. Mind you, for the most part, the public beaches are safe…but I would be wary in chosing a random, sparsely populated beach to play upon. There is a minority contingency of HI natives who do not appreciate non-islanders being there to exploit their ancestral homeland - and, in my humble opinion, they have a damned valid point. Tourism is rampant & were I to be a native, I might feel the same way. But, the overwhelming majority of people are as friendly as advertised.





One of the things I love the most when I arrive - walk off of the plane & immediately smell the hibiscus & the ocean. It is so relaxing. I can feel the tensions melt away & I feel like I am in a surreal place…because I am in a surreal place.





Like I said - pros & cons…all in what melts your butter.

Thanks you for your input…it sounds like I’m not really going to enjoy driving there, if anything. Eesh, 50 is so ridiculously slow I can’t even ponder that. Although on an island that small I guess that kinda makes sense. I don’t really eat that much pineapple anyways, but I’ll keep that in mind.
I just got back from CSU Chico yesterday after visiting the campus there. I had planned to visit UH Manoa before I transferred there anyways, but I’m honestly not sure after looking at the financial aspect of it whether it would be worth it to live in paradise, considering I would graduate with probably $40,000 in debt as opposed to $16,000 at the most at Chico, since at Chico since I’m a california resident I can get grants and scholarships.
My impression of Chico itself was that it’s basically a bigger version of Redding, which is not exactly impressive, and I wasn’t really impressed too much by the scenery either…the college is alright but the tales of a “beautiful” campus I think is far overrated.
My tour guide at Chico happened to be a senior who is pre-med himself, however, so I was able to get a substantial information about that and he seemed pretty knowledgeable and he was already accepted to multiple med schools. I didn’t ask names but I remember him saying a few of the ones he was accepted to were Mayo and Cornell. There is only one pre-med advisor there, but he’s a doctor himself and also former adcoms at the University of Wisconsin (if I remember right). Apparently the biology department there loves what they do and they try to make the classes as fun as possible for the students. My guide also said that the pre-med association there is very good. There’s also an office at Chico that conducts mock interviews and helps you study for the MCAT.
All in all, my impression of Chico was that the campus’ aesthetics and the city as well as student body seemed average/mediocre, but the pre-med program there is exceptional.
So that being said, I’m wondering whether it’s worth $24,000 extra in debt to go to a place that maybe is more beautiful but maybe doesn’t have as good of a pre-med program.

Now this was something I should have done when I first went to undergrad.