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PostSubject: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:11 am

If i want to pursue a concentration in biology, can i take molecular biology and/or biochem courses to fulfill my 24 unit requirement?
i think i will be applying for this program next year, and if i get in i will have to choose between life science (where i would be pursuing molecular biology and genetics second year) and integrated science.
i noticed that there is no option of a concentration in molecular biology, i was wondering why that is, and if there is a possibility of it becoming available in the future.
i understand that i can always switch out of isci if it is not for me, but i would rather not basically kill my social life for all of first year just to switch out of the program and pursue something else afterwards
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Prateek Gupta
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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:01 pm

Hey, i'm glad you stopped by to check out iSci.

Firstly, you have several misconceptions, and I'd recommend checking out the website "http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/isci/" to find out more about the program, or looking through some of the content here at the forum.

When you say "24 unit requirement" I am unsure what you are referring to, if you mean the "iSci-1A24" course, you cover all of first year biology within the course, and you will be completely set for any concentration through simply taking iSci-1A24. Please check out the website for more information here.

Secondly, a "biology" concentration can be attained through several routes, http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/isci/images/stories/Concentrations/Biology_Concentration.pdf shows the formalized process to get it. And to put it simply, to attain the concentration you can take a subset of a range of biology (including ecology, genetics, or physiology), or molecular biology courses to fulfill certain requirements. You also have the opportunity to Minor in Biology alternatively.

Also, if you are deadset in pursuing something specific (which it sounds like you are), I would really recommend simply going into life science and molecular biology and genetics. This is a small entry program, and it is a bit unfair to the iSci community when people enter in with the intention of switching out. You should really enjoy the 'integrated,' 'project based',' 'intimate' style that iSci brings, and are willing to work at a high level.

Lastly, by no means will iSci kill your social life! Like, I'm being totally serious -- I'm not sugarcoating this. First year Science at Mac and at any university is traditionally more time-consuming and intensive than Humanities and Social Sciences. If you want to compare iSci to say Life Sci, I would argue that Life Sci students have less room for free time and spend more time working on quizzes, assignments, lab reports and stressing out for finals worth 30-40% of their marks (compared to like 2.5% for a final in iSci). If you want the social life, you will have it, it's as simple as that, just prioritize your life to how you want. Personally, I felt I had twice as much free time first year than I did in Grade 12, so I was more than comfortable with my social life. And don't under-estimate the 30+ friends you will make immediately through the close community in iSci, our program at least our year was VERY social... we spent way too much time fooling around in iStudy.

Hope I helped! But please check out the website first before posting more questions, as it seems like most of your answers are there.


Last edited by Prateek Gupta on Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:11 pm

clicking on that link gave me an error page.
and by the 24 unit requirement, i meant the fact that you need 24 units of class within a certain field in order to obtain a "concentration", seeing as how i found that fact in the undergraduate calendar, i don't think it's a "misconception".
however, the calendar did not provide any detail with regards to concentrations, other than the 24-unit thing, so i asked under the "Questions/Concerns" part of the forum, which is what one would expect to do when faced with a QUESTION they do not have an answer to.
 
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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:13 pm

and with regards to free time, i looked up the timetable and it says that kids in this program have about 28 hours of class a week, PLUS another 3-4 hours for an elective, whereas people that i've talked to who are planning to enter other programs (including life science) will end up having somewhere between 18 and 25 hours, with all their electives.
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Rachel Charney



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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:03 pm

I think that the problem is there is a lot of outdated information about iSci that is being published as current in the course calendar, and this can be very misleading. As Prateek suggested, you should definitely take a look at the iSci website: http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/isci/
Here, you will be able to find the most current information available, as well as a breakdown of the requirements for all the specific concentrations including biology and biochemistry.
Whereas the course calendar makes it sounds like you can take any course to fulfill the 24 unit requirement, in actuality there are specific courses that you must choose from that have been predetermined by each discipline.

As far as I understand, molecular biology is a specialization within biology, and with iSci there just isn't enough time to take enough courses to be able to complete a specialization within a concentration. There might still be the option to take all the mol. bio electives you want to take.
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Adam Pantaleo



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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:13 pm

Here's the link Prateek wanted to give you (the word "shows" accidentally got added to the end of the link, which is why it didn't work): http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/isci/images/stories/Concentrations/Biology_Concentration.pdf

And I have to disagree slightly with Prateek on the free time comment. =P
He's right: if you prioritize, you'll have plenty of free time, so don't worry about that! But iSci does demand a lot of work, moreso than Grade 12, in my opinion. And we do have more hours than most first year science programs. Ultimately, how "hard" you find iSci depends on your learning style and how much effort you want to put into the program.

Other than that, I agree with Prateek and Rachel: check out the iSci website, because it can be more useful than the course calendar for certain things (like concentrations).
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Prateek Gupta
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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:29 pm

Haha, thanks Adam. I fixed the link above, it should work now. And Rachel above does a great job in explaining some of the questions you had!

Also, the official course calendar is riddled with mistakes with iSci (ESPECIALLY with information about concentrations.) For all iSci concerns please use the official website first!!! -- You will not find any incorrect information there.

I am also very confused as to why you have such a negative tone -- I felt I did an adequate job answering all your questions, what else are you unsure about?

Do you have any more questions about the time in iSci? If you refer blankly at the timetable, yes it does seem overwhelming... but a lot of the time is scheduled for group project work (sometimes optional), field trips, and presentation time... so it doesn't end up being as crazy as first appears. And like Adam mentioned, you still must dedicate a lot of time and work, and you will not be able to be a party animal or join 10 clubs (though a few iSci students seemed to have done one or the other), but I really don't think this is too radically different from other Science programs. This is another common misconception about the program.

Also don't worry about the misconceptions -- everybody, including people here at McMaster and several official McMaster websites have many misconceptions about the program. Like I said before, just use the official website instead and you will be much better off.

All of your answers seem to be clarified right here: http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/isci/faqs
(This time I made sure the link works!)
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Krista Stemmler

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PostSubject: Re: Biology Concentration   Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:35 pm

Ha! Adam, you would in fact be the iSci student who is most strapped for time.

Anyways, just reading the timetable isn't really sufficient information for determining how much time someone spends working versus socializing. For example, in iSci we are alloted time in the schedule to work on projects, review, lab reports, and in-depth discussion. As a result this cuts down on the amount of time we need to spend outside of class studying, writing reports, and pcramming for exams. Further, if you really enjoy the content as much as I do you'll find that doing group projects and studying/working together is socializing too. If by social life you mean you want to get hammered at a house party or spend a night clubbing at 1280, its completely possible and lots of iScis go out each weekend.

University (like everything else) is what you make of it, and if you feel you don't have any free time you won't give yourself any. And that is just as unhealthy as partying all the time. Balance, my dear friend, and you will be golden.
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