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A little advice, please


BoomhauerTX

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Hey folks.

First of all, I realize this is a forum for graduate students, and a lowly undergrad like myself probably shouldn't be posting here. I admit, I didn't read the full Terms of Use to see exactly what the rules are ;)

Please, by all means, point me in the direction of a more appropriate forum if necessary. I couldn't find another Geology/Earth Science forum myself, but then again, my Googling skills aren't all that great.

Basically, I am a sophomore at a new, small 4 year institution near Atlanta. The majors are very limited at my school, and I have really taken to my science courses, and I think I would like to pursue Geology. Unfortunately, my school doesn't offer it, and Georgia State and UGA are the only schools nearby who do. Transferring schools and changing majors is a big decision, however. To be honest, I don't really knowmuch about the field. I have read a good bit on the internet, such as at http://geology.com/articles/what-is-geology.shtml, but I don't know anyone personally to talk to about working as a geologist. Working as a scientist, outdoors, taking samples of the Earth, analyzing in the lab, etc, etc sounds fascinating, but I think I may have a jaded "popular" view of what a geologist does. From the reading I have done on blogs and such, it seems to all be about oil and gas.

I have contacted the Geology Departments at UGA and GSU, but they have both told me, in very polite and well worded emails, not to bother them until I have been accepted into the school. So much for visiting the department and checking out what it is really like. I don't blame them, as I am sure they are extremely busy and doing important work, but it just disheartens me to think that I would have to apply to a new school, claim the major, and then learn about it.

Anyhow, I am sorry to bother yall grad students with my trivial problems. I just don't know where else to turn. Feel free to point me in the right direction and give me the boot until I am myself a grad student, if necessary B)

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This website is useful for learning some more of the basics in the geosciences:

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/#earth-atmospheric-and-planetary-sciences

If you don't end up getting a BS in Geology, I would go with the next closest field to what you ultimately wish to do. There are a lot of fields within the Geosciences beyond just geology (geophysics, geochemistry, paleontology, etc). I would go heavy on you math, physics, and chemistry courses.

Taking samples and testing them in a lab is an actual job though it probably isn't as glorified as it sounds. Generally those types of careers center around water quality. It can get into the more legal side of things with permit writing and enforcing. If taking samples for testing is your thing that may end up being more of an Environemental Science pathway.

I hope this was helpful to you. We were all undergraduates at one point and it is good you are looking forward to your future now! Best of luck in your journey:)

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Its probably better to actually get a degree in physics,chemistry,biology or computer science and take geology/environmental classes on the side. Well at least thats my opinion.

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I agree with you NoNo if he ends up wishing to stay more within the Geology career path options. I probably should have been more clear in that I meant Environmental Science as more of an alternative pathway since he didn't know much about geology and just mentioned he wanted a career that involves being outdoors and taking samples. That sounds very environmental related to me and may be easier to obtain given his constraints.

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Boomhauer, how about contacting a few professors at UGA/etc. directly? I think they might generally be more willing to spend some time talking with you and pointing you in the right direction. Perhaps you could even get your hands dirty with a research project.

Also, I would agree that doing a major in a basic science (bio, chem, phys) would be much more beneficial if you see yourself as wanting to go to grad school in the Earth sciences (remember that this field is not all about rocks! I don't know gneiss from schist, but I'm still definitely part of the geoscience community), especially for cross-disciplinary work, e.g. oceanography or atmospheric sci.

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I entered the school where I'm currently staying now as an undergraduate of physics program, but it was not until the end of my first semester that I found myself really attractive to geoscience. I talked to my physics advisor and ultimately determined to double major in both physics program and atmospheric science. I personally would not recommend that you should transfer to the schools where the program of your interest is provided, but were I you, I would definitely put a lot of my efforts and time in maths, physics and chemistry, preparing to study Earth Science in graduate school. I have no clue which program you are doing now but if possible you could consider either transfering from your current major to physical science major or at least have a minor in physics or mathematics. Mind you applicants for graduate program of geology come from a wide variety of programs with very different undergraudate backgrounds, and to make yourself stand out from a pool of applicants, you must arm yourselves with sufficient knowledge and skills in science and do research with a faculty from department of physical science or chemistry on the issue related to Earth Science.

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I think the poster would have difficulty getting into a geology graduate program without any geology classes whatsoever. If you look at the original post, the OP interested in Geology but his/her school doesn't offer any Geology classes. Won't the OP need at least the basics?

I would suggest that you go and take the introductory geology course at one of the two schools you mentioned. They are big enough that they *might offer it in the summer. This way, you can see what the course of study is really like and you can meet a professor or two and get all your questions answered. If you find out that it's not really for you, then you will have credit for an elective.

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I think the poster would have difficulty getting into a geology graduate program without any geology classes whatsoever. If you look at the original post, the OP interested in Geology but his/her school doesn't offer any Geology classes. Won't the OP need at least the basics?

I don't know if the OP said that the don't offer geology classes, rather that they didn't offer geology as a major.

I'm in a geochemistry program and there are lots of folks who come in with chemistry degrees. I had a couple of intro geology classes as an undergrad, but many of my cohort hadn't even had that. The chem folks are all required to take some remedial classes (mineralogy and petrology at a minimum), and they tend to do pretty well. A solid knowledge of chemistry (esp. inorganic) is really helpful for mineralogy stuff--you have to learn about symmetry classes, crystal structures, etc. in inorganic.

One of my professors told me: "It's easier to make a chemist into a geologist than it is to make a geologist into a chemist." And it's true.

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