I need some advices for a future biology student

Hello, I am going to study biology at the national university of Colombia in three weeks, I would like to know if you know some advice for a biology student. I know that studying biology can be different in each country, but there are always things that biology students from anywhere should know.
Thanks in advance !!


One bit of advice – don’t confine your learning to the classroom! Take a look at what sort of research your professors are doing, and ask them about it if you find it interesting. A lot of professors, at least here in the US, are happy to have students helping them out, and it’ll be excellent experience. Also, look into where you can find opportunities for summer jobs or internships in between terms – I don’t know specifics for Colombia, but your professors should.


One thing I would say is: work hard on learning the basics in each aspect of biology that they try to teach you, even the parts that right now don’t seem very interesting, or very important, or very relevant to you, because you never quite know what may end up being necessary to your progress in the future.

Also bear in mind that some teachers (and book authors) are much better at explaining things than others, so it is not always your fault if you find something hard to understand.

I would also say, have confidence that the part of biology that you find the most fascinating now will probably stay fascinating to you over the years, and that with luck you may eventually be able to find a job that makes use of your knowledge in these special subject areas, even if right now there are no jobs at all in that subspecialty!

And don’t hesitate to study and learn more by yourself in those subject areas you may be attracted to, ones which are not much covered in your biology courses.


@psweet – Agree! I learned a lot as an undergraduate student by meeting and helping graduate students on their field projects as a volunteer. That eventually helped me get paid work as a technician while I was a student. I think you learn just as much outside of the classroom as in it, if you involve yourself in research.


Be open to the possibility that your biology curriculum doesn’t go in the direction you want. Academia can be extremely narrow, unfortunately. For example, I went to Oberlin college in Ohio, in the US, and although Oberlin is known for having an environmental studies program, it was very policy-focused, and the Biology program was very microbiology focused, more orienting people towards a career in pre-med or Ph.D. research in microbiology, biochemistry, or related fields. It was frustrating because I was more interested in ecology, taxonomy and systematics, and more broad-scale aspects of evolution (there was plenty of talk about evolution but it was very micro-focused.)

In the case that this happens, that you find yourself wanting something you can’t get easily in your program, hit up the library. Also, maybe seek out some professors who are closest to your interests, in terms of their research, and see what they have to say.

It can be really hard if you’re stuck in a department where you really want to study certain subjects and the professors are constantly pushing you in another direction.

I sincerely hope you have a better experience than I did. But if you have a bad experience like me, don’t let it get you down; hit up the library, and reach out to the people you can connect with, even if they’re at other institutions.

Don’t be submissive and don’t let the professors beat you into studying something you don’t want to study.

If you find professors though who push you in a direction you really want to go in, well…lucky you! That’s the experience I wish I had had! Then run with it!


Thank you all for the answers. I am very excited to start studying biology, and I thank you and also INaturalist for helping me decide to study biology, I think that having entered this platform has been one of the best things that have happened to me so far.
Thanks for everything.


The only real advice I would give would be to take at least one invertebrate zoology course. I would echo @susanhewitt as well - don’t be afraid to explore. I went into my degree thinking taxonomy was a huge bore, but ended up loving it. Profs also make a difference. My first year bio prof for Botany (it was a televised course - the only time we saw a live person he said 'it’s my job to weed out 2/3 of you) put me off botany for the rest of my life.
All the other comments so far are bang on. Oh, and don’t be afraid to consult the folks on iNat!

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Twice that others already said, take your time to learn. But don’t skip courses because they’re not connected to your research. Some of them will be extremely useful in the future, so you should try and build strong relationships with the professors. If you have strong relationships with your professors, when the time comes to pick your dissertation committee, get job recommendations, etc. it will be much easier.

Also have confidence. At the some point you’re going be like “I’m so done, I don’t want to study this anymore” - but it’s just a temporary feeling, burnout. So stay calm and carry on.
Good luck!


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