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Geology/Earth Science, General


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What to Expect

Geology students learn about rocks and minerals and how they've shaped society and the world around us.

A typical day in Jerry DeWolfe's geology program involved classes in the morning and a lab in the afternoon. Most of the courses in the geology program include labs, which can include mapping and interpreting projects; microscope work; mineral, rock or fossil identification exercises; or field trips.

Programs are usually set up so students take three or four geology courses and then choose from several electives -- math, English and other sciences -- each semester. Each of these courses usually involves about three hours of classroom lectures per week and a three-hour lab.

High-level courses, like honors projects, don't require a lab or classroom component, but involve a great deal of time carrying out fieldwork, researching and writing, DeWolfe says.

"The best thing that I like about this program is that geology is a very lifestyle-oriented career," DeWolfe says. "My work experience has already allowed me to travel to some very interesting places, and to do activities that I enjoy while working."

Survival Tips

Anne Buckley studied geology at Western Washington University. She suggests students make sure they know what is expected and plan accordingly.

"Try not to take all math, physics and chemistry in one quarter," she says. "Spread it out and make sure that you keep your nose in what you're at school for -- geology."

The best way to understand geology, DeWolfe says, is to combine studies with work experience, either through a co-op program or a summer job related to geology.

How to Prepare

Load up on science classes. "Students entering this area of study need to remember that this is a science degree, and along with that discipline comes many classes in chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology," says Buckley.

"It is an integrated study. Having a good background in these other sciences helps to make connections to geologic processes in the world around you."


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