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Biology vs Physics - which one???

wafflewaffle Posts: 590Registered User Member
edited April 2007 in Other College Majors
ok, so originally i wanted to try biophysics (i applied under the physics major at cornell), but i also want to have a life in college, and i think that there are pros and cons to each:

Biology: PRO - I like the concepts better, I barely study at all and do fine in AP Bio, the molecular stuff and human body stuff is interesting

CON - There are different parts I don't really like (such as ecology and evolution), difficult B- curves in intro courses, afraid that either pre-med/vet/dental or researcher, I don't like labs in bio much, feel like too much memorization and not enough challenge

Physics: PRO - I like the challenge better, I can do a lot more with a physics degree than bio (at least varied), it shows i can solve complex problems

CON - The concepts don't interest me much even though the challenge does, at least for Newtonian Physics (quantum may be another story, and i've read about it and string theory and it seems a lot more interesting), i would not want to be a scientist/physicist, it is hard and i want to have a life outside of the class, too hard?

how much work would i be doing in both majors - i know it's a lot, but which is more? i tend to think that the subject material in physics is harder, but the actual curve of the classes in bio will be harder due to the amount of pre-meds. will i have a life outside of the class as a physics major

i do not really want to do pre-med since i think the amount of schooling after college and stress may be too much, but that may change. i thought of patent law originally, but not sure - though i know you can get away with a BS/MS in physics for a decent job in patent law, whereas you need a PhD in bio

i also want to have a well-rounded liberal arts education to and am interested in maybe minoring in philosophy. i know that at cornell, if you do an outside concentration in physics, then you only need about 8 courses and can combine it with another track, such as philosophy.

so can someone (preferably bio and physics majors) give advice on which route to go. as a matter of practicality i lean towards physics since i think it'll leave the most doors open, but i still don't know, but i did hear that the concepts of physics do get really interesting later on.

i just don't want hard science courses to be all i take - i like philosophy, psychology, politics, writing, language, history, etc. too!

please help!
Post edited by waffle on

Replies to: Biology vs Physics - which one???

  • wis75wis75 Posts: 8,958Registered User Senior Member
    Whoa- don't panic, you will have plenty of time to decide which of the two suits you best once you have your first year in college. Physics- think a lot of higher level math, theoretical. Biology- think botany, zoology, microbiology, etc- there are many fields in the general category. The two, biology and physics, are at the opposite ends of the science spectrum, with chemistry in the middle. Never worry about the other guy-premeds, course curves... you choose what you have a passion for. It is not a matter of easy/hard/challenge, but what you like to spend your time doing. You will be able to take plenty of nonscience courses regardless of which college or major you choose- they have breadth requirements for a reason. Start your college career with the needed introductory math/science courses and the choice will evolve as you discover more. No one can tell you which is better, we all prefer our own field... Premed is an intention, not a major so no decision there. A lot will fall into place once you get to campus- you can discuss things with an advisor and sign up for freshman courses (you sound like a HS student) to get needed courses for either field, plus some of those nonscience classes you want.
  • Marine4LifeMarine4Life Posts: 177Registered User Junior Member
    what really matters in the end is which one you like better. You don't want to end up doing something you don't like for the rest of your life.
  • ehiunnoehiunno Posts: 878Registered User Member
    whhooooaaaaa hold on a sec wis75

    Bio and physics are faaaarrrrr from being on opposite ends of the science spectrum, in fact thinking of science as divided into three seperate categories will set you up for failure as a scientist or a student picking each one to major in. I look at like this, in all honestly there is only one science, and a bunch of concentrations. You can mix and match how the concentrations interact but in the end only a few of those areas actually split things up into chem, physics and bio. Others include biophysics, physical chemistry, etc.

    Certainly, there are areas that are fairly independent, quantum in physics, zoology in bio, etc, but even those specialities are becoming increasingly blurred. Fro example, quantum computing mixes physics and comp sci. there are also a myriad of HEAVILY interdisciplinary areas like bioinformatics (math, bio, comp sci).

    to the OP, dont think of science in that way (broken into 3, 4 etc areas), Biophysics in a budding and potential fruitful area. At some places you can major in bio or physics and declare a concentration in biophysics, but I don't know about Cornell. Either way, you can take some electives in bio if you major in physics or the other way around. For biophysics, a physics major with a bio concentration would be best.


    your right though, its gonna be tough! Cornell is known for the rigor of its physics program, and the pre-meds are determined to get straight A's.
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