Online biology degrees offer challenge, excitement, and the knowledge to prepare you for a career in an evolving field. But that preparation can be intense. It will take time, dedication, and a determination to reach a goal. Sometimes you will study things that will fascinate you, other times your might find a topic a little boring. But whether it seems like it or not, it will all apply to a great future for you.
Getting through Basic Training
When pursuing online biology degrees, most students are ready to dive right into the nitty gritty of the subject matter. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. While you can take some low level biology classes at the start, there are numerous general education requirements that you need to accomplish. All students pursuing a undergraduate degree online need to complete these general courses, which are typically done during the first two years of a four-year program and total approximately 50 credit hours. These important classes prepare you for a general life and work environment.
And Still More
In addition to these seemingly unrelated classes, there are prerequisites that need to be satisfied for all online biology degrees. Prerequisites are classes that prepare you for the content of another class. If you were to be accepted into a course without having taken the pre-required course, you might struggle to understand the content.
Once you are ready to embark on the courses that are part of your biology program, you should consult an advisor. The two of you will lay out a plan for the order that you will take each class. Sometimes this can be like a puzzle. While it might seem like you can take course A then course B then course C, you might actually need to take course A.1 before taking course B.
(Warning: the following paragraph could cause a headache.)
Let's look at one of Oregon State University's online biology degrees for an example. In order to take BI 356 Animal Physiology you need to take either BI 214 General Biology IV: Mechanisms or BI 251 Foundations I: Biochemistry and Cell Physiology. If you choose BI 214 General Biology IV: Mechanisms, you will need to have taken BI 211 General Biology I: Cells, CH 223 General Chemistry , or CH 226 Honors General Chemistry. But wait, say you picked BI 211 General Biology I: Cells, before you can take that course, you need to have taken one of the following courses: CH 111, CH 113, CH 221, or CH 224H (which I am not even going to name for you because this paragraph is already overwhelming). And I hate to add more complication to the mix, but if you chose to take CH 111, there is a prerequisite to that class: MATH 95 (which has a prerequisite, of course: MATH 70).
So let me show it in reverse order. In order to take BI 356 Animal Physiology, you would need to work up to that class with the following classes:
1. MATH 70 Elementary Algebra
2. MATH 95 Intermediate Algebra
3. CH 111 Introduction to Chemical Principles
4. BI 211 General Biology I: Cells
5. BI 214 General Biology IV: Mechanisms
6. BI 356 Animal Physiology
Just Keep Going and Going - It's Really Not So Bad
I know that at a glance you might feel like you will never graduate. But don't despair, you probably will have satisfied the math requirements during your first two years through the general education requirements. And some of the higher level classes have the same prerequisites as others. Therefore, your list of prerequisites might not be as big as it seems. For each of the online biology degrees, there will be different program requirements and different prerequisites. So lean on your advisor to help you plan that curriculum. He or she will know all about it and will help you sort it through.
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