Why Biology?

Each program [at ESU] helps students to think. But when a student chooses a program, it is a choice of what to think about. A physics major thinks about different things than a psychology major.  A math major has different matters on her mind than an art major., Dr. Peter Hawkes, Dean of Arts and Sciences at East Stroudsburg University.

While you will always learn new things beyond your college major in your lifetime, college gives you a trajectory for your career and other areas of adult life.

 

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My introductory biology textbook.

For me, that number one thing is biology.  It has a beauty of both unity and diversity.  Contradictory as they may seem, it is a reality.  Diversity in all the life forms on Earth manifests God’s beauty in their habitats and niches, yet their unity in all the core systemic processes equally shows what a wonderful and providential Creator He is.  (Evolutionists claim that all life is not from a common creator, but a common ancestor.  But what is that ancestor?!?)  Remember the idea that cells come only from other cells, and so forth.

And even at the moment, before transfer to a university, I love looking at numerous websites concerning biology.  These can be about animals, plants, neural processes, you name it.  Of course, God made all these structures and processes; the scientists among us just named them.

So to all my fellow undergraduates, whatever your passion, biology or otherwise, go for it!

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Collegiate Excitement

As I enter my second year of CCP, we better be on the watch for more homework, speeches (in Public Speakng), lecturing, and best of all, lab work in our science classes, namely Biology and Chemistry.

While the assigned texts can stay at home, we will still need to take notes and and bring the appropriate lab manual on lab days.  (Public speaking does not have a textbook.)  By the way, the biology notes are a mere “fill-in-the-blank” approach in a booklet (which I bring to class).  I have mixed feelings about this organization.  It’s easy and already prepared, but waters down some of the freedom of a “true” notebook, and can be a little “mechanical” in terms of its study style.  Chemistry is taught by a very conventional professor uses no computer technology in his instruction.  We take real notes with him.

As far as transfer plans or even later courses, I really want to truly take things “one day at a time,” without merely vaunting it.  Therefore, blog posts, whether academic or otherwise, will focus chiefly on current issues, whether school or personal.  In the final analysis, no matter what college or career path I pursue, I’ll always be learning something.  After all, lifelong learning is part and parcel of who I am.

Getting Ready for Another Semester

This fall semester, starting the day after Labor Day, I return to my (formal) studies at CCP.  And it will be quite exciting.

The three courses to be taken are Biology, Chemistry, and Public Speaking.  Both Biology and Chemistry are the formats designed for majors, and have a second part in the Spring 2017 semester.  This will be a heavy semester, with lots of homework, so blog posts this fall may be a little sporadic.

If I get a job, I will restrict it to Fridays and Saturdays, as the rest of the week is busy with school.  Sunday, as a “rest day,” will hopefully involve more personal pursuits, such as reading some books such as the various Scientific American books, (a few) texts I may own, and perhaps even novels.  Later on, hopefully, church and Bible study will be back to normal.  Yet at home, I could listen to sermons and some personal Bible study.  The bottom line is, as a Christian, that I will not work a job on Sunday.  Period.

So I thank the Lord for all my potential He has bestowed in a number of areas.

Why Textbooks Don’t Cut It On Their Own

Since high school, I’ve had a draw to college textbooks of many kinds, especially in the sciences.  Even though a given subject is of interest, the truth is, I’ve never felt confident to finish a text front to back.

Perhaps the main reason for such is the fact that without any instructor, you can’t guarantee your getting the right information.  Even if you can comprehend the writing with no problem, textbook material needs that actual power imparted by the professor in order to know exactly what is going on. This is especially true when you consider a college’s prerequisites for a given subject.  Reading such a book (and usually, thus taking such a class) warrants previous knowledge.

Moreover, especially in the natural sciences, you need labs, field trips, and many other practical exercises to truly learn concepts.  And of course, the lecture is at the center of it all.

Also, the fact that textbooks are constantly updated means inevitably that, as you grow older, you will miss newer material taught long after you graduated.  But again, you should be content with the position you are in now.

Now if you are out of college and wish to use a textbook for additional learning (e.g., when your school didn’t offer  a given class), I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there, as I would have to test that statement.

So I must resist spending money on texts that have nothing to do with my coursework, and just take “baby steps” toward the goals I may aspire to achieve.  And I’ll leave the choices of texts to the professors.  And ultimately, all of it is in God’s hands.

So until then, just Google things, or if you dare, use Wikipedia.  LOL

OK, Here’s the Deal About My Future at CCP and Beyond

While I’ve seemed committed to Biology as a major over the years, this may have been quite rash.  The truth is that I must weigh it out as one among several CCP majors.  This fall, I take Biology I and Chemistry I (both in the sequence for majors), as well as public speaking.  Until spring 2017 registration, I will most likely remain in the liberal arts crowd  As you may know, we take two courses this summer:  Global History I (May-June) and a computer course (July-August)

This is important, since in reality, while I’ve read much material at the college level on biology (and other sciences), I have little or no biology lab experience.  This is mostly due to the special education environment of most of my high school classes.  In college courses, the textbook isn’t everything.  The professor’s job is to explain and relate concepts mentioned in the text (and possibly other readings) in different ways.  No wonder why I’ve rarely (if ever) read a college textbook cover to cover!

In chemistry on the other hand, I have had more than enough experience for preparation.  Believe it or not, it was never taken in high school (except by simply reading the text, but that didn’t help much.)  And I have attempted public speaking at my first community college (Bucks County), but was dropped due to poor speech at the time.  I’ve even been in the major’s chemistry sequence twice, but for personal reasons have withdrawn.  But by now, I’m ready!

So, while I am confident on my fall courses, Biology is a subject that must be tried and tested to see if that is an appropriate path.  If it’s for me, I would definitely transfer it over as planned, otherwise other majors like the all-new Chemistry (which is great for transfer to Chemistry as well as many other physical sciences at universities) as well as Chemical Technology (more geared toward employment upon graduation from CCP, particularly as a chemical technician.)  The latter allows allows other sciences (i.e., Biology, Physics) alongside its many chemistry courses.

We’ll see what seems more on-target.  Remember, you typically don’t know what you like unless you try.

Remember Prov 16:9: a man plans, but God directs!

College Update

This afternoon, a few months after submitting an application to Lock Haven University, one of the Pennsylvania “state schools” in the northern part of the state, I returned a call from an admissions director, and I was accepted!  Due to some misconduct over the past few years, sparing the gory details of such, I cannot live on campus.  Nonetheless, I can definitely live in the neighboring town (namely, you guessed it, Lock Haven, PA) and commute to school on time.

While I applied to the University for spring 2017, I probably won’t go until the fall of 2017 or more likely, 2018.  (Spring 2017 was the latest option on the application, so I selected that.)

The other major update is that after a year or so of study at Lock Haven, I may, in addition to my Biology program into which I have already been accepted, may add a “double major,” perhaps in geology.  Just as with biology (if not more so), when studying the subject, as a young-earth creationist myself, I would thinking against what I would typically believe.  Yet I have good resources, such as journals and personal mentors, that can keep me on track.  After all, the majority of scientists (of any kind) that follow creationism have had to take old-earth scholastic routes to get there.

As for my West Chester plan, I felt the double major of Biology and Geology had a better overlap of courses at Lock Haven, so I think I’ll go for Lock Haven instead, even though it’s MUCH further (that is, 4 hours or so from Philadelphia).

So, while I feel headed for “the Haven”, for now let’s just concentrate on getting through its “gateway,” that is, CCP.

Why Majors Give College Its Identity

College students, who make up a fraction of the high school graduate population (since, remember, college is not for everyone), may be viewed as an “elite” group that want to further their studies in a particular field, which would correspond to the “major.”  And of course, the major, or area of specialization, is just that:  the knowledge of one student’s major will probably be of little relevance to another’s plans.

I currently attend the Community College of Philadelphia, hoping to transfer to a university in a few years.  I am registering to be a biology major, and shall do the same at the university to follow.

You can now see the material covered in a biology major would have little relevance to an art major, a political science major, a sociology major, etc.  What is taught in one major would be quite irrelevant to someone seeking a career in another.  You would hardly use information beyond your major in the career you would expect to pursue.  For example, I was recently browsing through some geology texts in Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, which allows you to preview select books.  While I could definitely understand the material and do the work of such a major, geology is not a profession I would like, and the subject doesn’t hold my interest as much as biology anyway.  So it would be unnecessary to “dabble” in that field (or any field beyond your major) in that amount of depth.  (At least it was good I made such a judgment.)

Of course, you do have the “general education” courses, that can expose you to fields beyond your major, but in less depth than the corresponding major lineup.  The emphasis here, however, is breadth, exposure to a number of different kinds of courses.  This presents a trade-off; you usually can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Of course, if you double major (which many colleges offer), you can dabble in a second area, but it seldom has an advantage over the standard single-major approach.  Minors are a common practice, and while the courses are equivalent to that of a major, the difference is that of quantity, that is, fewer courses.  But since employers tend to pay little regard for minors, it is often a good way to prepare for a hobby or side pursuit.

Moreover, with the Internet now, there are scores of things you can dabble in, but of course, you won’t have the instructive support of a professor.  The Web is useful when you need something for a “quick-reference,” but for an in-depth analysis of a subject, schooling may be more appropriate.  But if you’re already done college, your trajectory in life is probably already set (especially concerning your career), and it would not be worth getting another degree just to merely learn about something.  God has guided you in the direction he wants, and you should be content with what you already have (Phil. 4:11, 12).

No wonder Solomon’s quote in Ecclesiastes 12:12 says excessive study “wearies the body.”  You should be able to draw the line when it’s time.  We were meant to work, indeed (typically) longer than our studies.  Information is always increasing (especially in this very century we live in now), but our personal knowledge capacities are the same.  And that’s a good reason to have specialization.  Polymaths and other generalists are basically a thing of the past, as there was less information out there then.

US President Barack Obama planned to make community college free, rendering half of a four-year (bachelor’s) degree, or an entire associate degree for direct entry into the work force, affordable.  Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who is more of a socialist, patterns much of his politics after the Nordic lands, and hopefully (within the domain of state universities) plans to make bachelor’s degrees free.  These policies are a little too good to be true, since again, college is an elite group.

Knowledge may be power, but only enough in certain fields.  The “bliss” of ignorance of other fields certainly holds true as well, and indeed acts as a balance.

Don’t be too smart for your own good!