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What to Expect

An undergraduate biotechnology program could involve quite a bit of academic work.

"I would say the classes are challenging, but not impossible," says Lucas Chase. He did a double major in biotechnology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. "Students must enter this field dedicated, with a willingness to commit to their classes."

Erin Nyren wants to fight superbugs. She knows many of the tricks she's already been taught will be useless against them. But she isn't daunted.

Nyren hopes to use her undergraduate education in biotechnology at North Dakota State University to help her discover new drugs to battle bacteria that resist today's antibiotics.

Nyren is confident her program equipped her with the knowledge she needs. "I think the lab classes are invaluable because they kind of demonstrate to you exactly what you're going to be doing in the real world."

Survival Tips

Nyren says it's definitely helpful if students spend their free time doing meaningful extracurricular stuff. As president of the university's biotechnology club, she organizes an outreach program to educate high school students on what a biotechnology program is all about.

Nyren says her personal experience proves extracurricular activities make you look good. She won a Goldwater Scholarship. This scholarship is offered nationally each year to outstanding science, math and engineering majors in U.S. colleges.

"I'm pretty certain that one of the reasons I got the scholarship was because I'm involved in so many things," she says.

"It helps to be an officer in a club. But even if you're not, be in the club and be active -- it doesn't necessarily have to be science-related. I'm in lots of plays and musicals here."

How to Prepare

Nyren says one sure way you can prepare yourself is by participating in as many high school science fairs as possible.

"That is probably the best thing they could be involved in. I did five years of science fair and that benefited me in countless ways."


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