Switching Majors Senior Year, Career Guidance Plz!

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  • Thread starter chill_factor
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  • #1
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I currently have all credits completed for a B.S. in Biochemistry from the department of Biology at a top 50 university with a 3.2 GPA. I'm staying this last year to finish my few remaining GE requirements.

However, I am deeply dissatisfied with my degree. I've spoken to other biological sciences majors, done research related to in vivo chemical imaging of amyloid beta in Drosophila, and held an internship at a drug precursor plant analyzing samples for impurities. I lost all interest in it after I did my research project and took immunology. It seems like there are no jobs in industry for someone with just a B.S. Biochemistry and I found that all my knowledge (everything besides quantitative analysis) was worthless. I felt like I've learned no skills that would help on the job and that my research was a useless money grab project. Now I want to change that.

I went to my counselor and asked if I could switch majors now. The reply was simple: Because our school only allows 5 years for students to graduate, my current completed classes only allow me to switch to one of 2 majors:

1.) Applied and Computational Math
2.) Chemistry

I'll need to stay 1 additional year for both due to not finishing 7 requirements for the B.S. Chemistry degree which weren't required by the Biochemistry degree, and not finishing 15 requirements for the Applied Math degree (would have been more if I didn't take more math classes beyond the required). We are on the quarter system so both degrees can be finished within 5 years total, time is not an issue.

Question:

In terms of careers, which is a better choice: B.S. in Applied and Computational Math, or B.S. in Chemistry?

How much would a Biochemistry student struggle with proof based math? There are 3 proof based math classes for the Applied Math major, but I've only taken the typical engineering style plug in the numbers type math from Calculus I, II, Multivariable, Introduction to Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations.

I've been struggling with this decision for over a month and I must make the final decision within 5 days! Thank you for your help!!!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
fss
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If Biochemistry doesn't interest you, I don't know why Chemistry would. However, a B.S. in either field alone usually isn't enough to vastly improve your job prospects. I'd probably go with the Math.
 
  • #3
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Thank you for the advice. What skills would make me more marketable?

There were many skills from chemistry (such as the 2nd and 3rd quarters of instrumental analysis, transport processes, organic mechanisms, organic synthesis) that were not in a biochemistry degree. I am not especially interested in either field, but was just looking for additional skillsets.
 
  • #4
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Honestly, your in a tough spot.

I am having trouble understanding how your counselor and you didnt look at your career path with your major and even before then your intended major.

What don't you like about biochemistry? The one class or the work you would do? Are you simply not interested in research type work? There is a serious lack of information for me to make an assessment in that capacity. If I were you and didn't completely hate chemistry I would look into at least a masters. That would greatly improve your job chances. Can you justify spending 1 more year getting a B.S. which is in my opinion the equivalent of a diploma in the professional world? Whereas that 1 year could go into a 2 year masters program, which would give you a step up.

A math degree will give you more "skills" but even with that there isn't much of a defined career. You would definitely be looked at as someone with potential for most jobs but those jobs would be ones that any other degree would apply to. Unless you were considering teaching grade school which would require more training.
 
  • #5
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If you are finished except for general ed requirements, finish your current degree and then enroll in a masters program in a field that interests you. Undergrad major is negotiable for almost all masters programs as long as you have an interest and aptitude in the work. This would be a more effective use of your time than trying to change majors at this late date. For the fields you mentioned, a masters would make you more employable as well.
 
  • #6
901
3
Thank you for the help. I didn't realize I hated biochemistry until after I was finished with my upper division research project.

Here is the additional information requested:

My parents wanted me to become a doctor at first, probably to fulfill their own failed dreams, so they talked me into picking biochemistry. I made it clear that I was not going to medical school, and they, probably thinking that I'd change my mind and get "interested in medicine", said that biochemistry has nothing to do with medicine and was a highly employable degree in its own right. Just to be sure, I asked my counselor about the job prospects for biochemistry outside the health care services field. She assured me that with the expansion of biotechnology and the application of biology to chemical manufacturing, there will likely be a huge number of jobs at chemical and pharmaceutical plants.

The degree was easy as hell. I didn't learn anything related to medicine, so I thought I was on the right track. I had a high GPA until 3 quarters ago so I thought I was successful.

Then I did my research project which was supposedly a realistic reflection of work, and found that I had no interest whatsoever in biochemistry. It is one thing to learn about things in the classroom and work in a guided lab environment, it is quite another to see the gritty details and do work without friends in lab in that area. It pained me to go to the lab after the first 3 months. My PI was quite strict, to say the least. Turns out the labs were only tolerable because I had friends.

I got an internship, thinking it would be better; it used only 1 class that I've taken. 90% of my knowledge was useless; the only useful things I learned was number crunching on excel and operating various analytical instruments. Going to work felt like going to prison. I didn't expect very highly of an entry level position but it was hardly better than my research project. I never want to be in a biochemistry lab again. I don't want to be stuck doing HPLC and gel electrophoresis the rest of my life. Reading about biology or biochemistry makes me sick. It feels like I've been tricked and decieved by my parents and the counselor. My grades have fallen the past 3 quarters simply because I've grown to hate the remaining Bio oriented upper division classwork more and more once I got done with the easy math, chemistry and physics.

Because I had taken the prerequisite math, I entertained the idea of a 1 year Financial Math Master's, but twofish-quant who actually works as a quant, said that such programs are worthless. In any case, the economic statistics class I'm taking for a GE feels like torture compared to the math I took before and I don't think that "real" financial math would get any easier... so now I just don't know what to do.

I thought about the math degree to get an entry level programming job, as our school's applied math program gives students at least one year of programming experience.
 
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