It depends on what you want to study biology for. I am going to assume you want to study biology in order to earn a living with your knowledge or certificate. Belying my assumption is the fact that there are people who study certain courses just to please their parents, guardian, or just to show to the world that they are also educated, or for their political ambitions. Some also study biology because that is the course their university shoves at them, just like many schools do in Nigeria. Being forced to study a particular course, you may end up wishing only to graduate even with a third-class lower provided you, graduate.
Some people study only for the certificate, not the knowledge or grades. For that reason, they may care less about grades as they have no intention of using such certificates for employment. I am not talking about these class of people. I am going to assume you want to make use of your knowledge and certificates for employment. In that case, grades and knowledge should be a top priority.
Before You Begin Studies
Before you take a Biology course as a career pathway, you want to know the various opportunities in biology and the best biology courses for such opportunities. Don’t just study a course before you know exactly what you want in the future. Although your passion means a lot in studies, if you are studying a course for employment purposes, you had better make good research or see career counsellors for directions. That is the reason a lot of people graduate in a course only to have to do a second degree or additional degree before they can qualify for a job, particularly jobs with high employment potentials. So here is what to do before deciding on a course.
1. Figure Out Why You Want to Study Biology
This is the first and most important step, with the potential to orientate your approach towards studies. There are many reasons why people study biology. This has mainly to do with your future plans and ambition. Biology has many branches leading to a variety of professions including working in pharmaceutical companies, food processing companies, research laboratories, hospitals, and many other places. Knowing what you are studying for will help you concentrate on the most important parts of biology to succeed in your chosen branch of the field. If you know the aspects of biology to master before becoming a micro-biologist, you will know which electives to pick in the University, and which courses to concentrate more on. Doing this will help prepare you for the ultimate goal of becoming a successful Microbiologist.
Knowing what you are studying for will guide you towards which biology-related course to study. For example, if you are studying for employment within your country, you had better find out which biology-related skills are in demand by employers. It will help prevent you from ending up with a profession that no employer in your country is looking for.
2. Have a Good Understanding of Preliminaries
Every course has preliminaries. You must understand these before embarking on your studies. Preliminaries are important because they help qualify you for the course and also lay a good foundation for you to master that course. That is the reason Universities require certain Ordinary Level Grades for admission to study any course. And the way Universities know you qualify for that course is to look at your high school performance.
Typically, as a biology student, you need to understand certain science subjects to a particular level. If you have a curiosity for biology or plan to study it in the future, you may be wondering what “prerequisites” to master. Biology prerequisites are simply other knowledge that will give you a solid foundation to learn biology. Discovering and mastering prerequisites is a big kudos for thinking ahead!
Understanding of elementary chemistry, mathematics, physics, and Statistics is the major subject that prepares you for success in the study of Biology. However, these are not a must-have. In general, the only strict prerequisites for biology are curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to think critically about the natural world. Do not be intimidated to start learning biology without the background sciences, as long as you’re willing to pick up bits of chemistry, physics, statistics, and math along the way.
3. Understanding the Career Opportunities in Biology
Like I noted above, Biology is a vast field with several professions. The number of specializations in biology continues to increase over the years as researches discover more wonders of life. You want to be aware of these career opportunities as much as possible so that you can research what each entails and make an informed decision. If you just go for the wrong biology course at the University, you may end up doing a second degree or miss out on some great employment opportunity in the future. This is especially the case if you intend to study abroad at some point or work in a particular field. The wrong biology course will disqualify you for certain specialization courses, or even if you are accepted to study that course, your chances of employment against those with preferred degrees reduce drastically.
4. Understand the Job Prospects of Each Career Opportunity
It is equally important to know the job prospect of each career in biology before you study that course. Your research of the job prospect should concentrate on the country or city you wish to work. There are biology courses that can only find application in advanced countries or those that pay higher than the rest.
5. Understand the Environment You Intend to Work in
The environment you intend to work in is also very important to consider when choosing the branch of Biological Sciences to study. Some countries employ experts in certain fields of biology. Not every country has good job prospects for all biology-related fields. Research organizations also publish reports on future skills that would be required by certain industries due to structural changes in the industry. You could also read such reports if you want to learn a skill that is expected to be in high demand in the future.
6. Understanding the School Where You are Going to Study
There are many factors of a school that will either positively or negatively impact your future. If you want to study in a school, take your time to research the reputation of that school with regards to the course you intend to study. Only go for the best schools for your course because education is a lifetime investment and you don’t want to mess up your life by graduating from a less-known university. Find out if the course you intend to study in that school has been accredited by the body responsible. Many people started a course only to discover at the last minute that their course is not accredited.
You should also research the facilities a school has, like a hostel, recreational centres, lecture halls, student to teacher ratio and so on before beginning to study there. Without such in-depth research about a school, you may end up in a University that you don’t like and this will impact your ability to learn.
7. Have a Good Financial Backup
This point may not seem so obvious but it is very important to be able to finance your education to the end. If you are not sure of the source of finance for your education, it is best to first establish a reliable source of income or sponsorship before beginning your study so you don’t end up giving up halfway. Many students have dropped out of school for financial reasons. this amounts to a waste of time and resources and may discourage you from going back to school. Instead of being in a rush to start studying, think of establishing some small business, learn a skill, or take out a student loan that will enable you to cope with the finances of education.
8. Understanding the Government Policies
The policies of a government can have a profound effect on your study experience. Some countries are known to have a great deal of strike action by the academic community. Sometimes universities can go on strike for months or even a year to protest certain government policies. Countries that are very prone to such striking action by universities may not be the best place for you to study biology.
You want to be able to graduate on time and such strike actions only delay your career. Some universities are also more prone to taking strike actions than others. this is commonly seen in state or private universities. Workers may be protesting pay, working environment, etc. and while this is good for the workers, students are always the losers. You must understand the academic landscape of a country before starting to study there, especially if you are going to be studying abroad.
9. Understand the Living Conditions of Your Study Destination
Some cities are more friendly than others to study in. the cost of living, transportation, and other basic necessities should be taken into account when you are planning to study at a University. Because failing to do this can impact your ability to concentrate. when a city is too expensive for you, you are unlikely to have the complete rest of mind necessary for concentration. You should also be aware of the social and security condition of your study destination. Maybe the people’s lifestyle differs greatly from your own or the security situation isn’t saved. Even if your course is available in such cities, it is best that you don’t study there unless you have a survival strategy.
10. Not All Schools Require the Same Prerequisites
You should also note that some good schools are really soft on requirements for admission. Find out what a school’s requirement for admission is first before giving up. Preferably visit the university itself and see if you can talk to the HOD, Dean or other qualified staff for advice regarding requirements if you suspect that you may not qualify. Some schools will allow you to start study and then get a requirement before you graduate.
These ten points have been outlined to prevent you from having any regrets during or after your university study of biology. Many are currently in regret because they neglected one or more of the ten points described in this article. Some have missed golden opportunities, and some are forced to take a second degree for a career change. I hope you won’t’ be among these people during or after your university degree.
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The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé