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Life Science or Finance?

A photo of jingjinglan jingjinglan
I'm in Grade 12 this year and I need to start thinking about what to major in.

My parents don't want me to go into Life Science because they think there's way too much competition for grades and I'll end up with a crap GPA. They would love it if I could become a doctor (they're asian parents, it's like their wet dream) but they think that med school is way too hard to get in, especially with an ug in lifesci since practically everyone in lifesci wants to become a doctor.

The thing is, I like biology. I enjoy learning about science and biochemistry and all that nice stuff that comes with lifesci.

So my parents want me to go into engineering or finance/business because according to them, it'll be easier to find a job and the pay is relatively higher. Also for engineering, it'll be easier to get in because I'm a girl (my mom tells me from experience since both my parents are computer engineers).

I know that I should listen to my own heart and stuff like that, my parents aren't the ones living my life etc etc -- I KNOW. But I can't just dismiss my parents' advice. In the end it's going to be my choice anyway.

So we've sorta reached a compromise of some sort: if I can get into Mac HSci, then I can go. I'm also applying to Columbia University Early Decision for Financial Engineering, and if I get in there, I have to go unless my family somehow goes bankrupt in the next 12 months.

I'm just worried that if I listen to my parents, I might end up in a major/job/career I find unfulfilling. But I'm also scared that if I go into lifesci/healthsci I will get chewed up and spat back out by the rest of the smart ug class and end up disillusioned.

wow that was a looong post, if you're still reading, thank you! I'd just like a few bits of advice on how you'd face this situation :)
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7 replies
A photo of jelly jelly
It would probably be in your best interest to go and pursue what you really want. The worst that you can come to is rejection from medical school, but its not exactly a dead end. You might spend a couple more years, but you can still easily complete another degree or something. You can go to graduate school, the field of life sciences does not offer medical school as the only viable career path. In the case that you decide to pursue something that you're not actually interested in and you regret it, you would have never been given the opportunity to actually do something you liked. I mean, if you find you're really not doing well after the first two years, you can even transfer to Ivey given that you have a considerable average. You'd be back onto a business route and graduating with an HBA in four years just like everyone else. You also have the option of applying to medical school with an engineering degree, but it's pretty rare. Basically, I believe that you should give yourself a chance with life sciences, and you can always fall back onto a business degree if things aren't working out as planned. Or you can pursue something different. Whichever you want.

I might sound a bit biased towards Ivey, but its mostly because I've heard so many good things about the program. I'm not even a business hopeful myself and don't even plan on applying to any business programs, but I just think the 2+2 program, being given two full years to thoroughly explore what your interested really are, gives you such a good chance to decide. You're offered a two year degree that holds as much water as other top-tier four year ones while given the chance to rediscover and evaluate what you really want to do.
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A photo of aquarius aquarius
Agree with Jelly. Ivey is a good option. Another option is if money is not an issue, then you may want to consider going to Australia or USA for a medical degree.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
tell them it is you who is going to university and not they.
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A photo of Phase Phase
Financial engineering (quantitative finance) ≠ finance. It is just a small sub-specialty of finance. Also, the few financial engineers (referred to as "quants" in the finance world) have advised against an undergrad in financial engineering. You're better coming out of a quantitative undergrad (math, physics, engineering, finance with as many math electives as possible) and then doing the 1 year financial engineering masters (also known as masters of mathematical finance).

If you like biology and also want to get into medical school but want a strong backup if that does not work out, have you considered biomedical engineering or biophysics? Even if you don't get into medical school you will have a solid career prospects to fall back on and even have the option of doing a 1 year masters in financial engineering.
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A photo of willeh willeh
Life science is much more than just med school, in fact, I'm going to apply to life science this year and I don't want to go to med school, instead I want to become a researcher, preferably becoming a professor in a research university. Lol I know this is even harder than getting into med school, but you get the idea.

I would advice you to really think about what you are really interested in, and listen to your heart, don't be afraid, go ahead and chase your dreams, after all, we all only have one life to work with here. I had the same doubts as you about my goal before, but in the end I decided to follow my dream, the reaseon was simple: I want to be able to enjoy every day of my life, and how can I do that doing something I don't even like when I know I had the opptunities to pursue my dreams.

And here's a quote that I really liked and helped me to make my decision:
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"- Eleanor Roosevolt

This is only my advice, you are the one to decide about your own future, just make sure it's something that you won't regret and good luck!
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
Do whatever you want to do. If I had listened to my relatives/teachers/friends about what I should be, I'd be in med instead of vet med right now. And if you're interested in science but not in becoming a MD, there's always research, PT/OT, nursing, etc. I also agree with the poster who mentioned biomedical eng, it combines eng with biology and you end up doing cool stuff like developing/programming MRI/CT/EEG/ECG etc machines (I have a friend who is doing a Master's in biomed eng right now and he works at Sick Kids doing stuff like that).
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