Is it too late for me to major in neuroscience?
October 4, 2010 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Is it too late for me to major in neuroscience?

I'm currently in my 2nd year a community college and I hope to transfer in one year. I used to want to major in business because a lot of my influences in high school, mentors and friends alike, were business minded and so it only seemed natural. However I've come to realize what I really love is neuroscience. I always read books and peer-reviewed articles on the subject for fun in my free time. And now I feel like it's what I've always wanted to do but I've never thought about pursuing it until now because everyone was always pushing me into business. Is it too late to switch majors if I'm planning to transfer? What if I change majors after I transfer?

Note: I have a 3.83 GPA (only thing bringing it down is 1 C)
posted by meta.mark to Education (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
no it's not.
posted by lacedcoffee at 11:35 PM on October 4, 2010

It's not too late. Think of it this way... say you don't switch. Chances are in two years you'll be going, "I wonder if it's too late to switch to neuroscience..."
posted by biochemist at 11:38 PM on October 4, 2010

It is definitely not too late. Go with your passion.
posted by lexicakes at 12:00 AM on October 5, 2010

No, not too late. (I'm assuming you're a relatively traditional student, about 20 or so. If you're older, that doesn't mean it's too late, but there might be other things at play.)

The details about switching majors after you transfer depend on what school you transfer to, but it would probably be easiest/best if you start taking more science-y classes now rather than after you transfer.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:12 AM on October 5, 2010

Absolutely not too late. Go for it--I can't imagine a more interesting field to study!
posted by chicainthecity at 12:21 AM on October 5, 2010

A friend of mine is 43 and just finished an MSc in Neurobio and is starting a PhD. He is also a successful boxing coach and runs a gym. No combination is impossible.
posted by mikel at 4:04 AM on October 5, 2010

This seems like the PERFECT time to switch to neuro. You're still in school, you spent some years studying to figure out what you want. Don't let your initial gravitation toward plan A make you feel like a better, more passion-invoking plan B isn't the best option. It sounds like it is.
posted by shortyJBot at 4:31 AM on October 5, 2010

I always read books and peer-reviewed articles on the subject for fun in my free time.

Everybody who wants to "justify" that they are passionate about something says this, as though it somehow proves they belong in the field. To some extent it does, but even if you wanted to just play golf in your spare time, it wouldn't disqualify you from pursuing a neuroscience major.

If you want to graduate on time, I suppose be prepared to take summer classes. Also, consider what you want to do with that major with regard to work/career, unless you/your family has the means to finance post graduate education.

Because technically, anybody can do whatever they want and major in whatever they want whenever they want (such as a lawyer who decides he wants to go to med school at 55), but they have to have the means to finance it or have a plan.
posted by anniecat at 5:41 AM on October 5, 2010

Anniecat is right. It's totally not too late — if only because it's never too late — but you want to make sure you're going about this stuff in a sane and productive way.

The fact that you're asking about this here on the internet suggests to me that you don't know who to ask in real life. Can I offer a bit of unsolicited advice? Get in the habit of asking this stuff to real people in real life. If you don't know who to ask, get in the habit of asking people "Who should I ask?"

We can give you a pep talk. But I guarantee you that at the school you're hoping to transfer to, there's an administrator who can give you something better than a pep talk — concrete details. "Here's how long the program takes; here are the prerequisites for the first few classes; here are some of the jobs that our graduates have gotten; if you want more advice you should talk to Professor So-and-so, he's the undergraduate advisor in the department." Once you've got that information, then you'll really be in a position to say "Yes, this is a good idea." (I suspect that it is a good idea; the point is just that I can't do much to assure you that it is, since I don't really know any of those details myself.)

So the first step is to find that person who can provide the details that we can't. Do you have an advisor at your community college? Go ask them, "Is there someone at Big State U who provides information for transfer students?" Or if that fails, go to Big State U's website and look for an office that takes care of transfer students, or even just one that gives advice to incoming students in general. And then call that person up and say "I want to know about the neuroscience program there. Who can I talk to?" Iterate until you feel like you've made some connections and gotten some solid information on what to expect. And then go from there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 AM on October 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

Not too late. Also, I know a lot of people who started straight-up neuroscience or brain-focused bioengineering in graduate school. You don't even have to make sweeping changes to your schooling right now, if you don't want to. Just add some math and molecular/cellular biology (and hopefully computer science if you like it) and biochemistry and you'll be good to go in the future, as long as you finish off at a non-community college. (I am a grad student in bioengineering, but I don't necessarily have any idea what I'm talking about. Ask undergrad administrators and look at entry requirements of grad programs if you go this route. You can email grad program directors, too.)
posted by zeek321 at 6:27 AM on October 5, 2010

When I met my friend Josh he was 3 years into a creative writing major/japanese minor, but had always been interested in science. Then he just decided one day to pursue bioengineering and neuroscience. Taught himself some chemistry, calculus and physics while he finished up that term, then applied for the switch. A bit rough-going the first while, sure, but he transferred over a fair number of electives and got through it in 2 years with summer classes. Now he's just started his Ph. D. in neuroscience researching treatments for Alzheimer's, which is near and dear to his heart. Keep your end-goal in sight and you'll do just fine :)
posted by lizbunny at 8:21 AM on October 5, 2010

Definitely not too late at all. You're only in your second year-- plenty of people haven't even declared a major at all. Neuroscience is an interesting field. There's another thing: "business" isn't worth expending the entire curriculum of a major on. You can always learn that stuff later, or major in accounting or economics if you want a more solid grounding in the material.

Maybe you'll fall in love with neuroscience and go get a Ph.D. or go to med school or go into biotech patent law or something. Or you can decide it's enjoyable but not what you want to make a career out of and go work for a consulting company as an analyst and transition more into a management consult/business-type role. This is really the one chance you're going to have to study neuroscience really in depth, with the full force of your attention, so you might as well do it, or at least start taking more classes in it.
posted by deanc at 8:47 AM on October 5, 2010

Nth-ing no. But start taking prereqs NOW.
posted by maryr at 10:45 AM on October 5, 2010

At least where I went to university, the prereqs for premed and neuroscience were identical. So if I were you, I'd start on physics, chem, ochem, etc., now. Unless you're going for something like 'cognitive science' or whatever they're calling neuroscience based less on biology and more on psychology. Look into the neuroscience major at the schools you're hoping to transfer to, and go from there. To have done the entire major in two years would have been INSANE. I did it in three, and it was already pretty nuts.

Anyway, I totally encourage you to study neuroscience. It's something I've never, ever regretted, and no one I know has, either.
posted by namesarehard at 2:25 PM on October 5, 2010

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