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Need Advice: Specialization or Major/minor


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Hi,

 

I am a first year student in General Sci. at the University of Alberta. I've reached the point where I kinda have to pick whether or not I want to go the major/minor route or do something like a specialization or honours degree.

 

This is my predicament -

 

I would like to apply to med school at the end of my degree. In order to have a better chance of getting in, I know I'd need a competitive GPA. The specialization program that I'm looking into - molecular genetics - seems ridiculously hard. I've mapped out the courses I'd need to take, and I doubt I'd be able to pull off a competitive GPA with it.

 

My other option is to go the major/minor route and pick something in the bio. sci. as my major and econ (which I enjoy) as my minor. However, I'm afraid this would limit my options after the degree to just applying to professional school... because graduate school here looks down on a general degree.

 

Also, if I wanted to join the workforce directly after my undergrad, would a specialization in something like molecular genetics (vs. a general degree) give me an edge with employers? Or ... would the econ minor be looked upon positively by employers as a more 'well-rounded' degree.

 

I would rather find a job after my undergrad than going to grad school. (I'm not too keen on getting stuck in the world of academia forever!)

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

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Guest Chieka

Where do I start? ;)

 

First off, many people think genetics is difficult, but I think that if you like that area of bio, go for it. As I've said before, it's often better to do something you're interested in. I graduated with a genetics degree last year, and yes, it was tough, but I obviously didn't do too bad, since so far, I'm faring well with the medical schools. :D

 

Also, don't forget that some schools (U of T) especially consider not only GPA but the field you chose. So, doing a program such as genetics MAY give you an advantage.

 

As to major/minor, I don't understand what you were saying about a "general degree". The way I understand it, a general degree is 3 years, and has no minor. An honours degree is 4 years and can have a minor. I may be confused, though.

 

Anyhow, I don't see how the minor in and of itself could limit hurt your chances of getting into graduate school. As long as you have the same number of courses in your major area (ie bio) that a fellow "non-minoring" student would have, you should be fine. I minored in a subject in the humanities, but made sure I took ALL the course requirements for a bio degree. To do so, you'd probably have to take an increased course load each year. That is something you have to decide if you're willing to do, I guess. It is extra work that does take a toll on your GPA. But again, many schools take this into somehow. I've already mentioned U of T.

 

But back to your concern with your options being limited. If anything, I think that having a minor would OPEN more doors, not close them. You may be able to pursue not only med school, graduate work in bio, but also graduate work in economics. And even if you enter the work force, I think being well-rounded is excellent. If you have many skills, it'll be easier to be an indispensable employee.

 

Well, this has turned out rather long. I hoped it has helped, but, as I've spoken only from personal experience, I think that you should see an academic counsellor for better (and probably more accurate) advice. I saw one every year of my undergrad as I "planned my own program." They're pretty good for helping you sort out your options - just let them know everything that's going to your head, and they should find something that works for you.

 

Best,

 

C.

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Thanks for the advice!

 

btw... a BSc. General here is a 4 year degree... with a major and minor. I guess we work differently down here in Alberta!

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