How to Survive the First Year of a Science Degree – 3 Easy(ish) Steps to Becoming a Scientist.

Considering taking on a science degree, and changing the world?

After finishing my first year of a science degree, that was in equal parts what I expected, and nothing like it, here are three key steps to getting off to the right start and finding your place in science.

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1: Be passionate about learning.

Sounds lame right? But the father of Quantum Electro Dynamics (and free thinking Bongo player), Richard Feynman said “I Always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know”. So it is often the pursuit of knowledge that is just as important as the knowledge itself. It’s what Science is about. Even if you don’t love every aspect of science’s different disciplines, try and love the process, because every method of discovery in your tool belt improves your chance at success in any discipline you choose.

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2: Be open minded to where the path may take you.

During your first year of science at QUT you are exposed to a myriad of different hands on experiments that will, without doubt, shape the path you pursue in your science degree. You may be thinking right now that Geology sucks, or that chemistry is too hard, but when you put together a model of the lithosphere and test its characteristics, or build a sensor from nano-fibers that YOU make in a lab, your opinion may change. The actual lab experience you gain in your first year, can be a big factor in what discipline you might like to pursue, so make the most of those experiences – not every university lets you in a lab from week one.

3: Get some guidance.

You are far from alone at university. When you decide to study science, you are thrust into a cohort of literally THOUSANDS of fellow science students. From first year, to PHD students, there are people everywhere with wisdom that you can draw on. There are a huge range of student societies at QUT – Physics, Robotics, Chemistry , Car clubs, Chess clubs, Quidditch Clubs. You name it, and there is a group. University is a place for like-minded people, so let yourself be connected.

Being around people with similar passions creates strong study networks that help you to achieve the grades you need, and with good grades, doors open for you. Schemes such as QUT’s Vacation Research Entry Scheme (VRES) let students with good grades work in research from as early as your first year! Don’t be afraid if you are about to start a degree and don’t know what you want to do at the end, because the journey shapes the outcome. Get through week one, then your first exam, then your first semester. Use all the opportunities you are presented, and soon enough, the path will become clear.

Do those three things, and not only will you get through the first year, but you will be on the right path to take your career anywhere you want to. 

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