How to Succeed As a Science Major

11 Parts:Before you decideHow to start the application processPreparing for universityFresher's week / First week of termPersonal lifeLecturesStudy timeAcademic career (assignments)Academic career (dissertation)Further StudySurviving procrastination

Science is a wide and diverse subject, ranging from archeology to zoology, and including relationships between many different aspects of life. Due to the depth and nature of science, it can be hard to generalize and say what is best for students, as different courses will have different challenges, which will make the study experience unique. This article aims to give generalized advice for anyone considering a science major or other form of science undergraduate course. If you are already on a science major, skip to part 5.

Part 1
Before you decide

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    Decide if science is the right step for you. Choosing to go into science is a hard decision. Whether you made it years ago and are still following through or whether you're only just starting to think about where you want to go in life, dedication is key to science subjects.There are some questions you should consider the answers to before considering a science major:
    • How long have you wanted to go into this field?
    • Do you know which field you want to go into?
    • Why do you want to go into science?
    • What are your grades in science? (Remember, your grades aren't as important as your dedication, however you may wish to consider vocational courses such as apprenticeships if you're not suited to essays and/or exams)
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    Decide which science is the best for you. This doesn't mean the science your best at in school or which science you think will get you into the profession you want. Chose a science course which excites you and motivates you to learn to your full potential. You can change your specialism after your course, if you decide to go onto further study. If you decide to go straight into a job, it is likely that the company will train you to fulfill your roles and responsibilities and only need your general lab experience or other experiences you've had as a scientist.
    • Although some sciences may not seem to have applications past furthering human understanding of the universe, almost all sciences have other topics which will start to be mixed in while you complete your course. This could be as close as biology and chemistry mixing (biochemistry is a very important and wide field) or may seem far fetched, such as applied ethics and law being mixed with psychology (something that all psychology research projects keep in mind).
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    Choose your university/college. Look at as many as possible and look at possibilities to study abroad. Consider how you are going to finance your studies, personal life and housing, but also consider which universities/colleges are best for your course. Most universities will have bursary and/or scholarship programs, as well as other financial aid that may be available from the government. Consider every aspect of the university, including societies and social life.

Part 2
How to start the application process

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    Research the application process on the university website. Most universities will have it clearly available somewhere on their homepage. In some countries, there are application systems, such as UCAS in the UK, which allow you to apply for multiple universities at once, which is helpful for making many applications.
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    Make sure that your application is professional and follows the guidelines set out by the university/college or application system. Getting your application declined due to small mistakes can be extremely disheartening.
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    If your application is accepted, dress in business attire to attend the interview, unless otherwise specified by the university/college. Make sure you have a clear voice, look professional and that you are sure of your answers. There are many sources online for typical questions asked at interviews and researching these and practicing your answers can make you seem calmer and confident, which looks good to the interviewer.
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    Once you've been accepted, follow all the instructions your university give you and make sure you have all the information about the start of term. If you don't know what date you start, try to access your timetable or phone your university and ask.

Part 3
Preparing for university

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    Know when you need to be there, how your getting there and how much you can take. Don't take too much but also don't waste your money on new things, such as toothbrushes, when you can take them with you.
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    Consider the weather and pack your clothes. If you're moving from California to New England, it's not a good idea to pack your light clothes and someone from New England would probably not pack a thick coat for California. Research the whether in the area you'll be in, research the fashion if it's important to you. No one really cares what you wear in university but for fashion conscious people, it's worth researching.
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    Find a house or halls as fast as you can. A lot get sold out and you may have to pay more if you leave it too late. The university may help you with this or there are several places online to find out more about finding student accommodation.
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    Study your chosen science areas. You probably won't know what your lectures are about until you get to university, so just make sure you have the basic knowledge and anything that you think might be important to the course. It's best to start studying as early as possible.

Part 4
Fresher's week / First week of term

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    Try everything. Depending on your university, there may be several activities going on in the first week of the first term aimed at freshman (or first years). These activities are normally aimed at getting you involved in university life and clubs and societies that the university offer. Try everything that interests you and everything that you might want to be involved in during your university life. Being a science major is stressful and having an outlet can help take away the stress but you also look like an active member of your community if you have lots of experience to put on your CV.
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    If your university doesn't have anything on (or even if they do), local bars and pubs may have theme nights to entice students and the student union bar (or equivalent student bar) will have welcoming nights and parties planned to allow you to mingle with other people from the university.
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    Fresher's week should be one or two weeks long. It's alright to party sometimes but don't go out every night and party. It's acceptable in the first week of term but will damage your grades to continue.

Part 5
Personal life

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    Make sure that your friends are people you get on with, can study with, can have fun with, and you don't mind them seeing you throw up. Friends are important, even if you only have a few. If you find it hard to make friends with people from you course or in bars, try making friends with people in your clubs or societies. You'll already have common interests, so it may be easier to get along with them.
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    Don't start fights. Not on campus, not on social media, nowhere. Professors don't appreciate students that are causing drama with the admin or with each other and if there's a fight between students on social media, they are likely to find out about it.
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    Don't do drugs every day. It will affect your studies just as much as getting drunk every day, as well as affecting your health.
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    If you want to do something, motivate yourself to do it. Use posters and reminders to help you achieve your goals in your hobbies. This will help with stress and with relationships.
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    Explore. There is nothing better than getting to know a new place and new people.

Part 6

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    Turn up to as many lectures as possible. To motivate yourself, think about how much one lecture costs and how much money you're wasting by not going. The lectures are important.
    • If your university allows it, record the lecture. Listen to it again when you're at home and take notes again, you'll remember more information.
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    Always take a notepad and pen. Even if you think that the lecture won't be interesting or won't have important material covered, you may be surprised or you may find something else to link into your studies.
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    Some lecturers can read you. If you're doodling, they'll call you for a question because they know you're not paying attention. Some lecturers don't care as much or see it as your choice not to listen.
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    Listen intently. There is no point going into a lecture that you're not going to listen to. You're wasting time that you could be doing work.
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    Study each day. The lectures are only the backbone of your study. Make sure that you're studying every day, except for relaxation days, and make sure that you have a range of sources that guide your studies.

Part 7
Study time

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    Choose the study format that works for you. There are several different ways to study and finding the one that is right for you in important to being an undergraduate, whether in science or otherwise. Science may be tricky to learn, as many science courses have lab sessions but most of the learning is from textbooks and scholarly articles that you'll read over your course. Transferring this information into an easier-to-manage format makes your study time much more effective
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    Learn how to find articles. They'll be important no matter which field of science you're in. There are sites such as Google Scholar which can help find articles but your library should also have a system for searching articles the school owns or have permission to access. Do the library's tutorial for finding articles.
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    Take breaks. You'll burn yourself out if you work too many hours at a time, make sure to give yourself sufficient breaks between studying. Make sure you're hydrated and well fed during the break and that you're not too tired to continue.
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    Get tools for your browser that stop you from accessing sites unless you've finished your work or that only let you access sites for so many hours per day. That way,you're less likely to be distracted by these sites, just resist turning the application off.

Part 8
Academic career (assignments)

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    Accept that your first assignment will be your hardest. Don't let it stress you out too much, use it as an opportunity to learn the correct formatting.
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    Always reference, even if you've only cited it once. Everything that you cite in papers must be fully referenced at the end of your work. If a reference helped but wasn't cited in the text, reference it under further reading.
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    Get the assignments out of the way. The deadlines will just keep getting closer and you'll realise you have many assignments to do but such short time to do them in. It's better to start and finish them early and make corrections before the deadline.
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    Be clear and concise. Scientific articles don't ramble and neither should you. Remember that you shouldn't be trying to fill the word count with nonsense. Ask the lecturer the terms of the word count (whether it's maximum or if points are deducted for being 10% or more out) and if you need to make it up to the count, then look into relevant articles that may supply more information.
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    Use several references, use more sources. Get several references from several different places. Some should be books from the library, some should be from online, some should be scholarly. Mix it up but remember that online articles, although important, should be briefly evaluated (less than 100 words) as a source.

Part 9
Academic career (dissertation)

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    Complete a dissertation or research project. All science undergraduate courses have dissertations or extended research projects at the end of the course. Search for advisors and topics early to avoid being disappointed about the range of subjects that you're allowed to pick from.
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    Pick a subject that you can stay with for a year and a half. You might not need that long to complete your project but it's better to be happy with the topic and motivated to do your best than it is to dread every second.
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    Remember that you can change your topic. Don't stress too much if it's not perfect on the application form.
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    Start as soon as your supervisor says they are happy to be on your application. It's likely that you'll get your first choice, so concentrate on that but don't ignore the other topics.
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    See your supervisor at least once every two weeks, even if it's just to tell them that you're working well and have done a certain amount of words towards the project.
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    Do at least a little each day, whether it's reading an article or typing out 500 words. Have days to sit down with just your dissertation and work through it
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    Start as soon as your supervisor says they are happy to be on your application. It's likely that you'll get your first choice, so concentrate on that but don't ignore the other topics.
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    If you're stressed, talk to your supervisor. They should help you through the stressful situation or give you some allowance to help make your workload lighter.
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    Make sure you know the university's marking scheme and regulations for handing in your dissertation.

Part 10
Further Study

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    Decide whether further study is for you. Many science students stay in education. The same steps as are in parts 1, 2 and 3 can be used for the application into further study.
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    Ask yourself key questions. There are more questions to consider with postgraduate study:
    • What type of course do you want?
    • Where do you want to specialise?
    • Do you want to dedicate your life to this subject?
    • Do you want to work after your postgraduate study?

Part 11
Surviving procrastination

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    Create a WikiHow account. You can study while feeling like you're not. If you find a topic that interests you or you want to support, writing articles can help put you into the mood to write your assignments.
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    Get yourself some water and block out distractions. If you've procrastinated for too long, think about how much better you'll feel if the work is done and you still have time to do other things.
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    Put gummy bears or your favourite candy on the book after paragraphs. When you've read the paragraph, eat the bear.


  • Science isn't a hard topic. Science is a topic that takes dedication, enthusiasm and time. There may be things that you don't grasp to start with or you may find challenging to do/write/learn but if you continue with your research, there are usually many scholars that write it their own way. Reading how different people explain it can further your understanding or clarify what you've found from other articles.
  • Scholars have opinions too, they simply have more to back up their opinions. Read articles from several scholars and several view points. Although some things will stay the same, you may find counter arguments and counter research.
  • Surprise your professors. Go deeper than you were meant to but stay on topic while still answering the question.
  • Take at least one day a week for yourself. Don't take too many of these days in the course of the week but relaxation and low stress days are essential.
  • University/college is expensive! Make sure you're not going to drop out in the first couple of months (make sure you have an aptitude for the subject).
  • You only have to justify your course to yourself. If someone around you isn't happy with your choice, discuss it with them but remember that you have the final say.


  • Side effects of stress will occur, whether constant or for small periods of time.
  • Application to courses is different in every country and therefore would need separate articles.

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Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education