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Biology Degree Undergrad


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Hey everyone,

I am currently in my first year of University at Queen's. I am unsure if I should pursue a biology degree or a life science degree. I do not want to pursue a life science degree because physics is required and I absolutely cannot do physics. I can do calculus (got a 94 in high school) but physics, I failed the final exam in grade 11 and ended up with a 70 (I hated the material so much I didn't study). When it comes to biology and chemistry, I  got 99 and 100 in those courses between gr 11 and 12.

If I wanted to take biology as my major, I would be taking Economics 110 (believe it or not, I love this material, and also many say it is easy to do well in the course at queens so long as you don't die of boredem), Sociology 122(same thing, easy to do well if you don't die of boredem), Calculus 121 (I have the easiest prof possible, according to many upper years), Biology 102/102 (not concerned about this course at all), Chemistry (not concerned again). I know for a fact that I can achieve very high marks in all these courses. If I wanted to do Life Sciences, I would be taking out Econ and putting physics 117 in, which many say is easy if you have done gr 12 physics, which I didn't. I could probably if I try REALLY hard  and somehow get interested in the course squeeze in an A-, maybe an A in the course (grade distrubution for the course shows a huge chunk of the class ends up with an A- or above), but I'm worried that all the effort I put in that course would take away from my time to study the other courses, or even do extracurriculars (I have a job and am looking to work in the student government at Queen's, among other things). When I say I have to try hard, I mean REALLY hard by the way.

I'm not worried about physics being a pre req for schools. I looked and very few in Canada require it. The only ones that do are not in my province and only accept VERY few out of province applicants a year.

What worries me is if medical schools would view my course load as easier than a life science major or something like that... Are Biology Undergrads generally as successful as Life Science undergrads? My older brother told me that most biology undergrads end up cleaning bird poo from labs because they all fail to get into medical school (I know he was exagerating but it got me worried...)


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Well you're gonna need know physics for the MCAT (although it's probably easier than the course).

I did my MCAT after my first year of undergrad before I had taken physics (took it second year) and it actually wasn't too bad, so you can do that.

But the question is, if you hated it so much that you didn't study for your final, how are you gonna study it for the MCAT?


As far as I know, I don't think they look down upon life sciences as an easier undergrad; or if they do, it will minimally impact your admissions.

They do look at your GPA and that influences your admissions chances greatly, so definitely do classes you can do well in (taking into consideration what I said above for physics on the MCAT).


PS - I was a biology undergrad and I ain't cleaning no bird poop  -_-

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I honestly have trouble figuring out the difference between a Life Sciences and Biological Sciences degree... and if Med Schools know, they explicitly don't care. Take whatever major you'd like.


As CanucksFan says though, you can't avoid physics forever, since it shows up on the MCAT. It's not advanced physics, mostly high school stuff, but it'll matter.

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I can do the physics that would be on the MCAT. My problem is taking a course for physics and then being tested on the material (my gr 11 test questions were harder than some mcat questions). Like i know the basics but when teachers throw in curveballs and go indepth and stuff like that, thats where I fall.


But thanks for the advice so far!

Btw biology degree is more courses on ecology and plants in addition to our bodies.

Life science is strictly human body materiat

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Hey there!

I'm currently at Queen's now. I was honestly worried about PHYS 117 as well since I hated grade 12 physics (grade 11 was okay), but I actually ended up *LOVING* physics and almost took a physics minor. 


I would say physics 117 would definitely build a great foundation for studying for the MCAT, but since it's changing I can't say too much with regards to how much it'll help. There were actually a few things that you're expected to know for the MCAT that I didn't learn in class. (That being said a majority was building off what was learned in HS and review of HS material)

I also went into undergrad thinking I wanted to major in Biology and ended up deciding I didn't like Biology that much anymore. What's great about Queen's is that you have the opportunity to change your mind and you don't have to have decided on a major until the end of first year.


If you ever have any questions about Queen's, hit me up! Or if you do decide to take physics and want a tutor, I'd be glad to help you out as well. (Ended up with 97 or so in the course and tutoring someone else this year). Honestly, judging by how hard your Grade 11 class was though, I'm sure you would be fine as long as you make sure you cover the material you need to cover for the MCAT.

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My first year at Queen's was 6 years ago, so things may have changed, but here's my take.


A) Medical School admissions don't care about your major, they love diversity (though some schools do have prerequisites)


B )Physics: Again, it looks like things have changed, but here are some things to consider: Physics 117 (or "easy" physics) has about 1000 students and it can be more difficult to get individual help. Additionally, it's vector/algebra-based physics. Physics 106 had about 100 students by the end of the year (started with maybe 200), the TAs were generally more knowledgeable and it was really easy to get one-on-one time with them AND with the professor. Physics 106 is CALCULUS-based, so it may be more up your alley. When I took this course, they marked the exams really easily and repeated a lot of questions so that I'm pretty sure a large portion of the class got 100% on the final exam. This course resulted in my highest mark in my first 3 years at Queen's. It looks like the professor has changed since then, so take this with a grain of salt.


C) I took French as my elective in first year and ended up taking Psych 100 in 3rd year. I would recommend taking Psych if you're going to do LifeSci, it will help you with brain stuff in physiology (2nd year), and it's generally a very interesting course (a lot of reading, though).


D) Biology vs. Life Sciences: BIG difference. Biology: Plants and animals, LifeSci: Humans. I'm not really into plants and animals, so this was a no-brainer for me. My ranking of program choice probably would have been Life Sciences/Biochemistry/Chemistry/Mechanical Engineering (biomedical option).


E) Don't believe everything you hear. We have just as many Queen's bio majors as life sci majors in my class.


Moral of the story: Take what you're interested in! Don't let one course stop you from taking LifeSci if that's what you're in to. It sounds like you haven't even started first year yet so you'll probably change your mind 3 or 4 more times before you have to decide (and you can always switch after that)

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