I Know I Want to be in CBS, but How Do I Choose A Major?

Tips for Bio Students: Highlights of Specific Majors

 

Welcome to the College of Biological Sciences, where we have no shortage of pre-health students and students interested in going into biological research fields! You have chosen to be a part of an enriching academic community, but now you have a big decision to make: What’s your major?

 

Picking a major is one of the most important outlets for setting your path for your time at UC Davis. Luckily for you, the College of Biological Sciences has 9 majors that span a whole array of academic and professional biology focuses. In addition, for the first couple of years, all of the majors in our College have the same pre-requisite courses, meaning you can dip your toe in the waters of all of the different possibilities before you commit to your upper-division course work.

 

All CBS students have to take the basic science series: BIS 2ABC, CHE 2ABC, PHY 7/9 ABC, CHE 8AB / CHE 118ABC (CHE 118 ABC or CHE 128/192 for BMB majors), MAT 17ABC/21AB, etc. All of that information is available on our website: basc.ucdavis.edu/majors

 

So once you get through those lower division/pre-req classes, how do you decide where to go from there? Ask around, talk to peer and academic advisors, and take a look at the catalog.ucdavis.edu for examples of upper division electives! But if you’re still stuck, let me give you some highlights for the different majors to hopefully help your decision!

 

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: If Physics and Chemistry are your jam, then this major may be the one for you. In addition to taking the same lower division physics and chemistry classes as everyone else, you get to take Physical Chemistry and Molecular Biology. COOL, and it is a great avenue if you are interested in molecular or chemical research in the health or environmental sciences!

 

Biological Sciences: Get a taste of it all! Through the Biological Sciences major, you will have requirements to complete upper division coursework in a variety of different areas like a class in Plant Biology, Neurobiology/Behavior, a lab or two, a class in Microbio, Ecology, and Evolution!

 

Cell Biology: Focus on Molecular Bio courses in your upper-division classes and have the chance to take restricted electives in a combination of different emphases like Physical Chemistry, NPB, Plant Biology, Immunology (PMI), and more!

 

Microbiology: Keep the focus on Microbiology for your upper division classes and labs, but you will also have requirements to take a course in each of the following areas: Molecular Microbio, Virology, and Immunology. The restricted electives for this major are super open in that you’ll have 45 units to choose classes from upper division Micro or any other related fields after consulting with an advisor!

 

Genetics and Genomics: If you’re interested in the way genes interact to make us who we are, this is the major for you! Get an in depth look at the molecular development of chromosomes and their influence by taking related Microbiology courses, Evolution, and upper division Biology courses that have a focus on genetics.

 

Marine and Coastal Science: Get connected with Oceanography, Environmental Science, Evolution, Toxicology, and more at the core of your upper division requirements. Additionally, you have the opportunity to participate in one of the four emphases: Coastal Environmental Processes, Marine Ecology and Organismal Biology, Marine Environmental Chemistry, or Oceans & the Earth System.

 

Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity: Get into the core of how Biology works and where it came from. See how everything you learn about is connected in the environment, and also learn about the Biodiversity and conservation from the biological perspective! Take classes in Biodiversity and Advanced Evolution and Ecology, and even get the chance to intern or research with the Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory! Talk about hands-on field experience!

 

Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior: NPB is one of the most popular majors in the College of Biological Sciences, and I will tell you why! NPB offers three different tracks for restricted electives that tunnel the student’s main interests. Once you take the track series 110ABC, specialize in either Neurobiology, Physiology, or Organism-Environmental Interactions. Every track has plenty of class options to choose from so that every student can really get a deep understanding of their main interest area.

 

Plant Biology:    If plants are your vibe, and BIS 2C is just not enough, this is the major for you! Get into a close relationship with all things photosynthesis. Take classes in Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Plant Genetics, and Plant Physiology, Development, and Molecular Biology. Additionally, there are lots of ways to get involved in research and clubs on campus so, calling all you Plant People!

 

 

So as you can see, all of the different majors in the College of Biological Sciences are special and in depth in their own ways, but one thing is the most important to remember when selecting your major: Selecting a major does not restrict opportunity! Every major has built-in room to explore; so take a breath, take the pre-requisites, talk to someone in BASC, and let the majors guide your exploration!

 

 

Sandra McAteer
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major

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Five GE Classes I Took and Recommend

I started taking my General Education classes a little late, since in the first two years of college I was trying to finish the required STEM classes for the MCAT exam. Reflecting on those two years, I wish that I hadn’t followed my premed plans so carefully and took more non-science classes instead. Although I picked Genetics and Genomics as my major, I always knew that I have interests in arts and humanities. I was just too focused on my path to consider the option of getting a minor or double major, and while I realized at the end of my third year that I’d love to minor in Art History, I was unable to fit the classes in my schedule.

Anyways, taking GE classes is a great experience to continue your interest or to try something new. When students ask “What GE classes do you recommend?”, the answer is, there are SO MANY different classes that can fulfill the requirements, and it all depends on what sparks your interest. In this blog, I selected five UC Davis GE classes I enjoyed, and I would like to share with you my experiences. All five of them are lower division classes without prerequisites.

AHI 1C – Baroque to Modern Art

1024px-The_Kiss_-_Gustav_Klimt_-_Google_Cultural_Institute

The Kiss, Gustav Klimt. (picture from Wikipedia)

GE requirements: WC, AH, VL
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Diana Strazdes
I took this class because of a friend’s recommendation. I didn’t have much knowledge about art history, but Professor Strazdes did such a great job teaching the material from the basics. In class, Professor Strazdes showed power point slides with art works from different times and told stories. In addition to introductions of the artist and the technique, the professor explained why specific styles were popular at a certain period due to social movements and political background. The two midterms and one final were in short answer format with vocabulary definition, work identification, and some comparisons. This class required some memorization, but it was fun, and making flashcards really helped. Also, many works introduced in class are actually exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts, and if you plan a trip to SF, you get to see them in person!
Similar Classes: AHI1A – Ancient Mediterranean Art, AHI1B – Medieval and Renaissance Art, AHI1D – Arts of Asia, AHI1E – Islamic Art and Architecture

CHI 10 – Intro Chicana/o Studies
GE requirements: DD, ACGH, OL, AH, SS, WE
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Lorena Marquez
CHI10, along with HIS17AB and other classes, satisfies the American History and Institutions Requirement. For students who completed the requirement by taking American History in high school, CHI10 is a good introductory class to learn about the history and culture of the Chicana/o group. Professor Marquez was very passionate about the topic, and I really appreciated that she took time in lectures to answer questions and explained every point clearly. We started from learning the ancient civilizations in Central and South America (Aztec, Mayan, etc.), the European colonization, Mexican Civil War, and we ended at WWII and recent Chicana/o movements. Other than the exams (short answer format) and a term project, there were plenty of extra credits option, such as watching a Chicana/o related movie. I watched a documentary film, the Zoot Soot Riot, and wrote a report for that.
Similar Class: CHI50 – Chicana and Chicano Culture

PHI 7Y – Philosophy Perspective on Sexuality
GE requirements: DD, AH
Units: 3 units
Instructor: Adam Sennet
PHI7Y was an online course with a discussion session held once a week for an hour. This course combined philosophy and sexual studies. Topics that were covered included pornography, sexual relationships, sexual consent, and more. We didn’t have to do much work for this class, and I personally think it was the easiest GE I took at UC Davis. The only homework was a two to three page term paper, and the exam and quiz questions were straightforward multiple choices. I enjoyed PHI7Y because unlike the STEM classes, there was no “right or wrong answers” as long as I can logically prove my standpoint. Besides, while the topics can stir up much debated, they are important and relevant to college students.
Similar Classes: PHI31 – Scientific Reasoning, ANT30 – Sexualities, HDE12 – Human Sexuality.

SOC 3 – Social Problems
GE requirements: DD, ACGH, SS
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Ryan Finnigan
SOC3 was one of the pre-health classes recommended by the HPA (Health Professional Advising) office. I took this class and General Psychology (PSC1) during my freshman year, thinking that they might be helpful for the MCAT psychology and sociology section. Professor Finnigan explained important social issues related to poverty, education, and immigration. One memorable discussion was about the Food Desert, a residential area where people with low income consume more fast food due to fresh food not being accessible. From a personal viewpoint, although SOC3 did not cover all topics on MCAT, the class gave me a good idea on current social issues in the United States. The readings of SOC3 were brief and informative. Moreover, Professor Finnigan was very open to discuss about essays ideas and course materials during office hours.
Similar Classes: SOC1 – Introduction to Sociology, SOC4 – Immigration and Opportunity

RST 68 – Hinduism

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Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most popular festivals in Hinduism. (Picture from Wikipedia)

GE requirements: WC, AH, VL, WE
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Layne Little
The lectures were taught based on Hinduism traditions, epics and stories of various Hindu deities. In the first lecture, Professor Little talked about Ganesha, the male Hindu deity with an elephant head and a pet mouse, and stories of how Ganesha turned into his elephant-head form. RST68 was novel and fascinating, but it was at times difficult for me because I had never been exposed to the religion before. I almost dropped the class, but decided to change the class to P/NP because I wanted to learn more. Professor Little was absolutely the nicest person. He gave us doughnuts (enough doughnuts for everyone to get a second one) at exams, and he was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I recommend this class to students with Hinduism background or students interested in studying other religions/cultures.
Similar Classes: RST1 – Survey of Religion, RST30 – Religions of South Asia

These five classes are the ones that I personally enjoyed. The courses offered and the instructors can vary each quarter/year. If you want to learn more about choosing GE classes at UC Davis, check out this blog: Which GE’s Should I take?

Linya Hu
Fourth Year, Genetics and Genomics Major, Class of 2019
BASC Peer Advisor

Why UC Davis?

First and foremost, I would like to say congratulations on being accepted to UC Davis! I am sure you may have some anxiousness about the road ahead, but remember that you have earned these opportunities for yourself through hard work and dedication. In honor of Decision Day, I will share with you all my story of how I ended up at UC Davis.

In being asked to consider why I chose Davis, I had to really take myself back to my senior year of high school, which was a strange time all around. With college just on the horizon, I dealt with a lot of complex feelings about the path before me. Choosing where in the world you want to go to grow academically and develop yourself as a person is truly not an easy task and I vividly remember how this weighed on me. I remember feeling it was such an impossible decision to make, yet so many people take this step and move away for school. How is it normal to leave all that you have known for the first 18 years of your life, just like that? While it might sound a bit dramatic, these were my authentic feelings at the time.

Another aspect that made it such a difficult predicament is how I felt so many options were available to me. I worked especially hard in high school in order to receive better grades and thus better scholarship offers, as I did not want to limit myself due to finances. Additionally, as an L.A. native, I applied to mostly schools within California and a handful of out-of-state universities. In the end, I felt deeply split between two UCs: Santa Barbara and Davis.

The Varsity Theater at night in Downtown Davis

I know, this story might seem rather anticlimactic in hindsight, as we know where I ended up in the end, but at the time I was unbelievably torn. I had visited Davis in years prior when seeing a family friend who was an alumnus and employee of the university. I remember how quickly the town and the campus grew on me. The deep greens that Southern California largely lacks and the overall feel of the town resonated with me deeply. We went on a campus tour, saw a movie at the Varsity Theater downtown, and walked next door for some gelato and people watching. It’s a small yet crystal clear memory that was very impactful to me. However, I still had my doubts and the distance was also quite daunting, as Davis was 400 miles from my family, friends, and home.

Now on the other hand, there was UC Santa Barbara. UCSB seemed like a pretty perfect location — far enough from home where I could establish myself and have enough distance to do so, but close enough where I could take weekend trips home when needed. Also, I had received a great scholarship offer from them which, to a lot of people in my life, seemed like a telltale sign that I would commit to UCSB. This new feeling of expectation only worked to further complicate my feelings.

I remembered talking to my sister, who seemed like one of the only people who could see that Davis held a special place in my heart. I told her how one of the hardest parts of this decision was that I felt I could really build a place for myself at either school. I knew that I was quite adaptable, and I could envision these two different lives for myself. These talks with my sister gave way to a new perspective that explained why I felt so torn — this decision bottled down to whether I would be true to myself or go along with what was expected of me. This crossroad marked a pivotal moment that would affect me more than anyone in the long run, so why was I so concerned with other people’s feelings? I knew then that, if I were to choose UCSB, I would likely feel some sort of guilt for not listening to my gut.

While moving north and settling in took some time, Davis quickly began to seem like home. I remember feeling myself becoming part of Davis and starting to establish 

The Davis Arboretum in fall

friendships with people from all over the world. Every time I had a gap between classes during my first fall quarter, I would bike through downtown Davis and allow myself to get lost so that I could learn the layout, see what’s there, and eventually know Davis like the back of my hand. Even in difficult times, as I stressed about choosing a major for instance, I felt grounded and supported by the campus community.

For me, choosing to go to Davis came down to a matter of principle and heart, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. As my own college experience comes to a close, I would like to offer a word of advice to all incoming students, from one human to another. As you take this leap into higher education, I hope that you remember to take chances, ask for help when needed, and always lead with your heart.

PETRA SILVERMAN
BASC PEER ADVISOR
4TH YEAR – EVOLUTION, ECOLOGY, AND BIODIVERSITY + SPANISH MAJOR

Why UC Davis?

Community.To me, that is the word that best encompasses my choice of coming to UC Davis. To be completely honest, when I was completing the UC applications, I selected Davis as an option before I even knew where Davis was! However, when I got my acceptance offer, I did lots of research and became extremely interested in its programs and recognized status and knew that I wanted to learn more about Davis.

 

When notifications came out with information on Decision UC Davis, I had narrowed my options down to two schools. My family and I decided that traveling from Southern California to Northern California would be a lovely little trip, so we RSVP’d our way into Decision Day 2016.

 

Apart from the realization that UC Davis was a giant university, Decision Day provided me with an overwhelming feeling of calm. It was a beautiful April day, there were constant tours with enthusiastic guides, tents for the different colleges, presentations, and a multitude of welcoming individuals that I am sure you are all anxious to meet!

 

Being able to have direct contact with my peers, administrators, and other current students, I was able to have so many important questions answered, and it just put me (and my mom) at ease. I learned about student housing, downtown Davis, campus traditions, as well as the different programs available to students in my major and college. By the end of all the tours, events, and visiting time, I was ready to sign the SIR!

 

The distance of the school to my hometown was perfect, everybody seemed so nice, and I knew that there would be an endless amount of resources available to help me succeed. I hope all you prospective students reading this feel the same way!

 

Today

After three years of being in the College of Biological Sciences, I am so happy with my decision to come to Davis. I made so many friends Freshman year and learned so much about myself. I continue to be challenged every quarter but through campus organizations, faculty support, and different resources on campus like Biology Academic Success Center, I have felt at home here. I hope you all get to share the same experience at Davis and come visit Decision Day to see Davis in all its glory.

 

Sandra McAteer
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major

 

 

Peer Advising 101: Most Common Questions and How I Google Answers

Peer advisers receive a lot questions that could be answered if the many UC Davis websites were more easily navigable. Much of the peer adviser work comes in the form of knowing what to Google and how to navigate through UC Davis websites to find relevant information. Here are some of the most frequent reasons for visiting a peer adviser and what I will Google to help answer them.

Graduation check

In my experience, the most common reason for seeking BASC drop-in advising is for a graduation check. Graduation checks involve checking miscellaneous college and university requirements in addition to major and general education requirements. I usually find the above links with a Google search similar to this:

basc degree requirements

Seniors who are seeking a pre-graduation degree check will be referred to their major adviser due to the importance of such a check. However, peer advisers are happy to help students who have questions about their major requirements or GE progress. In the BASC office, we use a paper copy of the GE requirements as a visual reference for explaining the overlap rules and which requirements are satisfied by major courses. Degree requirement PDFs for each CBS major are available on their respective BASC website pages (Select Major > left sidebar > Major Requirements (B.S/A.B.)).

basc major requirements

Alternatively, you can find degree requirements on the general catalog.

I will also pull up the student’s OASIS and MyDegree.

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MyDegree provides a visualization of one’s progress in GE and major requirements as per their OASIS record. Ignore the “degree progress” bar at the top of MyDegree and focus on what it says about the completion of each requirement. Always compare MyDegree alongside OASIS in case MyDegree omits a class. Mistakes sometimes arise through MyDegree, so use the resource with caution and clarify any possible mistakes with a major adviser.

Schedule planning

The second most common reason for seeing a peer adviser seems to be to plan upcoming schedules. I will still bring up OASIS and MyDegree to keep track of what courses they have taken already. Schedule Builder is an obvious resource for planning schedules and checking course offerings for the following quarter. For planning more than one quarter ahead, I google two additional things:

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On the general catalog, I navigate to “Departments, Programs, & Degrees”. This brings up a full list of departments within the University. If planning the order to take upper division BIS courses, for example, select the Biological Sciences department and then navigate to the BIS courses tab in the upper right. This provides a full list of BIS courses, their descriptions, and prerequisites.

general catalog
The tabs next to BIS courses contain degree requirements for B.S. and A.B. in Biological Sciences.

My second google search:

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The course search tool allows us to look back in time at what courses were offered during past quarters. This can help give an idea of when courses are offered in the future. For example, if CHE 8A has been offered every Fall and Spring for the last three years, but never in Winter, we have good reason to believe it will continued to be offered in Fall and Spring but not Winter. Another way to check when courses might be offered in the future is through the OASIS academic plan tool (Forms and Petitions > Submit A New Form > Academic Plan). If you select a course on a quarter it is not typically offered, the academic plan will warn you with a small red warning next to that course.

ACADEMIC PLAN

Is it too late to drop a course?

Another very common type of question I get is “how do I add, drop, P/NP a course? / is it too late to drop, add, P/NP a course?” To answer the second question, I generally google:

ucd calendar google

The UC Davis academic calendar outlines important deadlines each quarter, including last day to add classes, drop classes, opt for P/NP, and add/drop with a PTA/PTD.

The question of how depends on what action they are trying to take. If adding, dropping, swapping sections, or electing P/NP before the relevant deadline, simply use schedule builder. Click Edit next to Letter Grading to change to P/NP, and click Actions to Swap sections or drop.

svched build

Late adding a course is also done through schedule builder after receiving the PTA from the professor. Late dropping requires adviser approval, and the petition is initiated through OASIS.

Conclusion

Web searching may seem menial, but with these simple Google searches and knowing how to navigate the links I provide above, the majority of questions I get from other students seeking drop-in advising can be answered. The amount of information available spread across innumerable UCD websites can be daunting when trying to figure out (for example) “can I graduate?” Concise Google searches and knowing where first to look is how peer advisers answer those sort of questions for students every day.

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year, Genetics and Genomics major

Pre-health Standardized Exams

When I say summer, you think… test prep!! Did I get that right? Wait, you were thinking of beaches and ice cream? Well, for some people, summer might be a nice break, but for many College of Biological Sciences students, summer is the perfect opportunity to gain experience in their intended field, take summer classes, or… prepare for dreaded exams. If you are trying to enter a health-related field after undergraduate education, the odds of needing to take a grueling multiple hour exam are high.  These exams will test your stamina, scientific knowledge, and critical thinking skills. But don’t worry, you’ve already started studying! Yup, by taking your major required courses, you’ve already begun the preparing yourself. So, props to you for taking the first step! The next thing to do is understand what exam you’ll be taking and how you can continue preparing for it. Depending on which field you wish to enter, there is a corresponding exam.

If you are interested in: Allopathic medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, or Podiatric medicine, you will take the Medical School Admissions test (MCAT) administered by the AAMC.

  1. The exam is 7.5 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 4 sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skill
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, PHY 7ABC General Physics, BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry, NPB 101 Human Physiology, and PSC 1 General Psychology.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: BIS 104 Cell Biology, MIC 102 Microbiology, BIS 101 Genes & Gene Expression, EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy, and PSC 41 Research Methods in Psychology.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $315 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 3 times in a single testing year, 4 times in a two year period, and 7 times in a lifetime.

If you are interested in: Dentistry, you will take the Dental Admissions test (DAT) administered by the ADA.

  1. The exam is 5 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 4 sections: Survey of Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, STA 100 Statistics, and NPB 101 Human Physiology.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: BIS 101 Genes & Gene Expression BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry, BIS 104 Cell Biology, MIC 102 Microbiology, EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy, and EVE 100 Introduction to Evolution.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $475 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 3 times but must be 90 days apart; to take more than 3 times, candidates must submit a request.

If you are interested in: Pharmacy, you will take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) administered by Pearson Education.

  1. The exam is 4 hours long (including breaks) and broken into  sections: Writing, Biological Processes, Chemical Processes, Critical Reading, and quantitative reasoning.
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, PHY 7ABC General Physics, STA 100 Statistics, NPB 101 Systemic Physiology, BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry, Calculus, and Statistics.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: MIC 102 Microbiology or EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $210 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 5 times; to take more than 5 times, candidates must submit a request.

If you are interested in: Optometry, you will take the Optometry Admissions test (OAT) administered by the ASCO.

  1. The exam is about 5 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 4 sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, PHY 7ABC General Physics, and NPB 101 Human Systemic Physiology.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy, BIS 101 Genes & Gene Expression, or BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $465 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 3 times but must be 90 days apart; to take more than 3 times, candidates must submit a request.

 

If you are interested in: Veterinary Medicine, Physician’s Assistant, Dietetic Internships, Nursing (MSN), Physical Therapy, Genetic Counseling, or Occupational Therapy, you will take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) administered by the ETS.

  1. The exam is 3.75 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 3 sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. Unlike other pre-health standardized exams, the GRE is not content based. Test prep books may be most useful solidifying core concepts. However, other Arts and Humanities or Social Science courses which emphasize critical thinking and reasoning may help.
  3. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $205 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 5 times but must be 21 days apart within any continuous 12-month period.

For more information about any of these exams, how to create a study plan, or what resources are available to you, please contact Health Professions Advising (HPA).

Christina Duong
BASC Peer Advisor
Fourth Year: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major w/Spanish minor

What I Would Have Done Differently: A Third Year’s Exploration of the Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew

When you start out at UC Davis, the experience is new, no matter who you are. Whether you are a first year fresh from high school near or far, a transfer student, or a returning student that took some time off, getting acclimated is a hardship that everybody struggles with. Now, for some, the period of hesitation before fully diving into what college has to offer can be a little on the longer side. That’s OK!! Getting your footing is not something to push too quickly. Take your time, and follow these quick tips for the best transition into the life of an Aggie.

When I came to UC Davis as a freshman, I did not have any real role models for help when it came to applications, choosing classes, choosing a major, choosing roommates, etc. It was all new to me. My mother went to university in Spain where she is from, and my father received his degree so long ago that everything has changed too rapidly to get a grip on it. As the first of my siblings to give college a go, I was spearheading my own entrance in the college life. As a third year and a new Peer Advisor in the College of Biological Sciences, I am still constantly learning new things about what it means to be here, so I felt it best to use this platform to tell you a few things I wish I had known/done from the beginning.’

First: It is NEVER too early to make an academic plan.

Now, you may be thinking, what is an academic plan and how/where do I make one? And let me tell you, you are not alone. So much information is relayed during orientation, that it is almost impossible to catch it all. So, here is what you do.

Open your Oasis file at oasis.ucdavis.edu and sign in with your Kerberos ID and passphrase.

In another tab open up your specific College’s Majors page and find your major’s requirement list. (hint: another way to do this is by using the catalog.ucdavis.edu resource which allows you to select “Degrees and Programs” on the lower left of the home screen. Scroll to your Major by alphabet and boom! There you have it.
Use this as your guide for choosing classes, and always make an appointment with a Major Advisor or come see a Peer Advisor in your College office if you have questions

On Oasis, hit the “Forms and Petitions” tab in the top bar of your Oasis File

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Once here, hit the blue “Submit a New Form” button on the right and scroll to the “Academic Plan” option from the list of options.

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Now, you will have a blank canvas for you to input all of your major required courses, minor courses, GE’s etc, so that you can efficiently plan out your time. No more going into Pass Times blind! Just type in a course code and off you go!
*Don’t forget to save it when you are done so you can go back later!

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Ok now for the Second Tip: It is never too early to consider doing a Minor.

Something that I wish I had known early on, was that minors usually require around 20-25 upper division units for completion. This is super do-able! If you find something outside of your major, say a language or music, or another interest that you discover while at Davis, consider a minor! Take a look back at the catalog or at UC Davis’s Master List of Minors for more information (link: https://www.ucdavis.edu/minors )

If you find something you like, plan out the required classes in your Oasis plan! Often times, minors can fulfill some or most of your required GE credit as well so talk to a major advisor and consider your options!
Finally, we reach Top Tip #3: Go to the Involvement Fairs, Dorm Floor Dinners, and get involved with your Peers!

Often times, acclimating to a new environment is best accomplished through finding people with common interests. Find out what is available. Our campus has hundreds of student-run and community-sponsored organizations to be a part of.

Whether it is associated with your major, cultural identification, hobbies, minor, or something you have never thought about being involved in before, being a part of a club or other social system is always a good route to take.

Get to know your neighbors! When moving into the dorms or a new apartment, when starting a new quarter/class, or when signing up for a new club, meet the people around you. Making connections to other students and faculty is a major force in making UC Davis home.

To wrap this up, if you have kept with me to this point, I want to say that you can do it! Starting at a new university is difficult for so many people and for a variety of different reasons. Share your experiences with friends, family, other students, your neighbors, advisors, you name it!

Here at UC Davis, we are always looking to offer you as much as we can in order to make this the best campus possible for everyone. Let us help light the way for your most successful college experience!

Sandra McAteer
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major