A Day in the Life of...Science Majors

Pursuing a science degree at Geneseo is no easy task. Any biology major waiting in line at Sundance Books, any chemistry major surviving a three-hour lab or any physics major the night before an exam can attest to this. It's not easy to endure four or more years of science lectures, labs, exams and expenses as everyone else watches in awe.

Geneseo offers an impressive list of science courses and majors, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, environmental studies, geography, geological sciences and physics, not to mention combinations of two - such as biophysics - as well as computer and social sciences. Those who doubt the dedication of a science major can simply examine the requirements. In contrast to majors that require 40 credit hours, science majors face almost double the burden. Biology majors are required 64-65 credit hours, biochemistry 72 and biophysics 76-77.

Many students get a taste of the science major's life through the school's general education requirements. Of course, students in two natural science classes and labs miss a great deal of perks reserved for biology majors like sophomore Matt Lepkowski. "I spent around $700 on just science textbooks," he said. The cost of books depends on the type and number of science classes.

While the money that science majors invest varies from year to year, labs ensure that no student escapes the commitment of time. Labs can range from two hours to four hours (including required pre-lab time), which has drawn mixed reviews.

Some students say they are tedious, boring and even unnecessary at times. "I don't feel like I get anything out of them I wouldn't get out of a lecture," Lepkowski said. Others feel that labs play a vital role in their learning experience. "They are definitely worth my time," sophomore biology major Stephen Verdini said. "I need a hands on experience, especially for physics." Arunima Ray, a senior biochemistry major, agreed that labs can help "promote group work, which is practical because all scientists collaborate with each other."

While science is demanding in time, money and effort, its courses help open the door to a variety of interesting and influential careers. Ranging from medical services to research, science provides a solid foundation for anyone seeking a fulfilling career. Students also praise Geneseo for its interesting and friendly professors. "Dr. [biology professor Harold] Hoops is the only reason I didn't become just a math major," Ray said. Verdini added that many science teachers are helpful in simply adding a more personal experience "when they provide one-on-one time."

Current and incoming science majors can look forward to gratifying experiences with the faculty as well as the brand new Integrated Science Center. "The new science building with modern facilities was an attractive feature of the school," Lepkowski said. "It makes [Geneseo] stand out against the other SUNYs." The science center houses laboratories, classrooms and an impressive atrium lobby containing a giant periodic table of the elements (representing chemistry), the Foucault pendulum (physics), and the geologic time line of the Earth (geological sciences).

There is more to being a science major than test tubes and equations. Science majors agree that they are learning life skills alongside chemical reactions and biological processes. Such skills include critical thinking, time management and working with others in a group setting. "It's a lot of work in the beginning, especially freshman classes, and it's easy to get swamped," Ray said. "But stick with it, have patience and work hard. The results will follow."