Want to major in Ocean biology but...

I have a son who is a high school sophomore. He wants to major in biology in college, more specifically ocean biology at a graduate level. I have no idea why he chose biology as his future college major, since natural science has not been in our family ‘blood’.

The problem is that he not only hates the related science such as chemistry and physics, but he said it was very difficult to understand it in classroom. I was told that they are closely related to the study of biology and was worried if he could do well in college without falling in love with chemistry and physics.

More near-term issue (and concern) is the SAT subject test. He is planning on taking it (SAT CHEM) in a few months and is worried if he will not have a great score.

My question to those who entered colleges as a bio major (or who have such children): Do you think it is ok to NOT take SAT subject test for CHEM or PHYSICS and still apply for a bio major at top colleges? Would it look bad? He will take SAT Math 2 soon but we may skip the SAT Chem or Physics.

Your inputs will be greatly appreciated.

He wants to be a scientist at the graduate level? Wouldn’t you want to find out he has low aptitude for a subject before he went through the process of trying to get admitted to a college to study it?

If he already hates Chemistry and Physics in HS, college will not be any better. Requirements for most BIO majors at the minimum, is a year of General Chem, Organic Chem, 1 semster of Biochem and a year of Physics. There are variations in the curriculum for each school but if he is interested in Biology, you have to take the classes laid out for that major. There are many schools that offer a Biology major with an emphasis in Marine Science which might not have as much emphasis on Chem and Physics. I would check the course requirements for each school of interest.

Regarding SAT subject tests, most Bio majors I know took the SAT 2 BIO and Math 2 exams. It will really depend upon which top schools he plans to apply. He would be better off take SAT 2 subject tests he likes and thinks he will do well in then just taking them for the sake of a major he may not even like in the end.

I was a biology major in college, and in my experience, many biology majors hate chemistry and physics. If they really enjoyed chemistry and physics, then they probably would have considered majoring in those instead. He will be in good company in college since many biology majors hate chemistry and physics and still survive. He needs to be able to survive those classes in college, but he doesn’t need to enjoy them. Also, schools may have different “levels” of class, especially physics classes (physics for engineering majors, physics for physics majors, physics for bio majors, etc), so he may be able to skate by with a lower level physics class if he really wants to.

Why not take the SAT II Biology exam, if he really likes biology? He can get into a good school without taking the SAT II in chemistry or physics, and it would be better to do really well on the biology exam than mediocre on the chemistry exam.