Major Differences

Get it? Differences in majors that are major?

I’m hilarious.

Anyway, to the core of this post. Last time I interviewed my friends, I asked them about different universities. This time, I’m comparing two programs at UTM – Life Sciences vs. Social Sciences. Without any further ado, here is the interview:

Life Sciences: R

Social Sciences: A

On mandatory courses: 

A: None – you can pick anything from psychology to economics to politics to anthropology. There’s a lot of freedom.

R: We have a couple of mandatory courses – biology, chemistry, calculus. Other than that, we can also take whatever you want.

On whether essays or tests are more prominent: 

A: It depends on the course. For example, psychology is almost all tests, while politics is all essays, save for the final exam.

R: Mostly tests, but in bio we have these mini-assignments called “Literacy Tests”. They aren’t all that mini, though, they take forever.

A: Essays are the worst, I’d rather do tests. At least while writing a test, I don’t have to constantly worry I’m accidentally plagiarizing something.

On labs: 

A: Haven’t had a lab since the day after prom where we showed up just to dissect a shark. In case you’re wondering, I still have those pictures.

R: I’ve had a lot of labs, they’re a huge part of both bio and chem.

A: What’s your favourite lab?

R: We did this one, where we watched the mating rituals of crickets, and it was beyond cool. The males would fight and then the female would decide the winner.

A: That’s what i miss most about taking science classes – those cool labs.

On being busy:

A: My weeks alternate – I’ll have a week of nothing due and then a week where suddenly everything is due.

R: My weeks never alternate. I’m constantly busy. Finished midterms? Great, math problem set due. Chem lab done? Midterms again! I’m so beyond busy, I never have time for anything anymore.

A: Including me.



On what you plan to do with your degree:

A: Hopefully get into law school.

R: Hopefully get into med school.

On what your pencil case looks like: 

A: Calculator, pens, pencils, highlighter, ruler.

R: Pen, pencil, highlighter.

A: You take calculus..why don’t you have a calculator?

R: Not allowed to use them.

A: Ah, right, that’s why I didn’t take that class.

If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be? 

A: Give me a little bit more direction. Although I love my freedom, it’s also intimidating. What classes should I take? What classes should I avoid? While I know that they do tell us what specific programs want, I don’t know which specific program I want.

R: The only thing I’d change is the course load. There’s a bit too much. I mean, you get Fridays off. I can’t do that. It just won’t work with the classes I take.

What’s the most interesting part?

A: I think this falls down to classes, doesn’t it? I guess I’d say I like how every class teaches me to think differently. In politics, I try to argue. In economics, I apply. And in English, i analyze.

R: The labs win it for me.

What’s the least interesting part? 

A & R: Lectures.

Finally, why did you chose this field? 

A: I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer and social science seemed the logical undergrad.

R: Because I like science and suck at English. Also, you sorta need this in order to get into med school.

Turns out the differences aren’t so major after all. Just the topics, workload, schedules, types of assignments…okay, so it’s pretty different. I guess it all boils down to what you like learning about, whether it’s that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell or that democracy has 9 different conditions that are necessary for a state to be called democratic. (I think it’s clear which topic I know more about.)

All I have to say is what Richard P. Feynman said – “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”


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