Sierra College Department of Biological Sciences

Suggestions for Counselors Helping Students
and Students Planning to Enroll in a Science / Biological Science Course

Planning to Enroll in Classes offered by the Bio. Sci. Department?

(Student tips leading toward successful enrolling strategies and performance in class)

These suggestions were collected from current staff members of the department. This is a new service for our counseling staff and prospective students and will be developed more in the future. Any suggestions from users concerning or adding to this information is welcome and solicited. Please email your suggestions directly to: Jim Wilson.

These general recommendations are being offered for consideration in hopes of increasing an individual student's success in completing our courses. The recommendations, of course, must be taken in concert with other more individual and personal factors.

Enrolling in a science class:

Taking a science class in college is generally more in depth and demanding than courses you have experienced in high school - requiring you to learn and understand concepts and terminology in a more in-depth level than before (non-major and major courses). Therefore, plan on taking more time to study and succeed than in high school. One guideline recommends to add 2 hours of studying for every hour you are in class.

Taking a science class in college is similar to learning a new language. Reserving more time to practice and use what you are learning will improve your understanding of the concepts and terms.

Come in prepared for the first class meeting - "hit the ground running" and keep up the pace so you do not fall behind. Actually read the text or information provided before coming to the lectures and labs.

Ask your science teacher for help in explaining concepts and items you do not understand. Visit them during their office hours or by prior arrangement to get the needed or extra help for you to succeed. In addition, consider using a tutor. Tutors may be available through the Sierra College Tutoring Center.

Take prerequisites seriously when planning which science class to take. If you have questions, contact the instructor directly to hear in detail why the prerequisite is in place. Most are absolutely necessary while others may not be, depending on your background and abilities.

Plan your class schedule carefully to work well with your study and lab times as needed. In other words, assess your physiology and abilities to work and learn as you plan a reasonable class schedule (don't put all your study time in the afternoons when you might be tired and sleepy. Be prepared to really learn and be able to apply what you learn in labs and on tests. Taking a science class may help you improve your study skills.

Read the assigned readings before going to class and highlight items you need clarified by the instructor. (Plan a time for "reading" in your schedule.) Also, re-read your notes the night before class so you can learn and ask for help as needed the next day.

Enrolling in a biology class:

Enroll in the class you are most interested in - it will help motivate you to learn and study. See "Which Biology course should I take?"

IMPROVE YOUR STUDY HABITS - When you enroll in a biology class, be ready to ask the instructor questions, and work to improve your study habits. Read our "Recommended Study Techniques" page.

USE YOUR LAB TIME WISELY - If you are enrolling in a laboratory biology class, make it a practice to never leave early and make the most out of every minute you have in class. Some labs may be open for additional study; make use of the extra time.

Think twice about enrolling in more than one science laboratory class per semester. Laboratory classes take more time out of your daily schedule, time which you will need to study if you want to do well. Also, many laboratory classes have laboratory and lecture finals (and other tests), increasing the testing and needed study time.

Study habits (reading, note taking, study techniques, etc.) are extremely important skills that will increase your chances for success. Take classes to increase your skills in these areas if you need to do so, especially if you have not yet taken biology classes with successful results. (Yes, we know we have repeated this.)

You should participate in lecture by asking questions as needed, stay to the end of the lab to fully understand and learn, and preview each lecture and laboratory topics prior to class.

Consider NOT signing up for a biology class designed for students majoring in biology when what you need is a non-majors biology class to fill and general education requirement or elective. (Don't do it without talking directly to the instructor.) The Bio. Sci. Dept. offers many rigorous non-major courses that will challenge you to learn, while working toward your degree goals in some other discipline (fear not).

Find out at the beginning of the semester the best ways to study effectively for a particular biology class (ask the instructor).

Form consistent, reliable study groups with the other students in class, always and at the beginning of the semester (before the first quiz or test).

Enrolling in a specific biology class:

Bio. Sci. 1 - General Biology

Bio. 1 is intended for students majoring in biology and closely related fields. The class is not intended or recommended for students of other majors who may be looking for a more challenging course just for fun or to fill a general education requirement. Students who are ready to work hard, keep up with the fast-paced flow of information, and have had Chem. 1A or higher will have a better chance of success than others.

Bio. Sci. 2 (Botany) and 3 (Zoology)

Bio. 1 is a prerequisite for Bio. 2 (Botany) and Bio. 3 (Zoology). Both of these are classes designed for majors and assume students have an indepth biology background from taking Bio. 1. Bio. 2 is not the equivalent course to Bio. 22 (Introduction to Botany)

Bio. Sci. 4, 5 & 6

It is not advisable to enroll in Bio. 4, 5 and 6 during the same semester. Depending on your proven abilities (in other college level science classes), you might survive taking two of these during the same semester (but, probably not with a high degree of success). In fact, few students succeed (to a high level) at taking any two of them during the same semester, without sacrificing one or the other and their grades. The end of the semester may be very tough as everything comes to a close.

Bio. Sci. 4 - Microbiology

Purchase the study guide as well as the other syllabus (lab and lecture) and use it for success.

Lab activities and involvement is the key to this class. You must allocate all the required time (and possibly more) and remain in the lab, not leaving early. Fridays are usually open lab times so plan your class schedule to allow you to use the lab on Fridays to learn and succeed. Learn what is expected, master the techniques and form study groups at the beginning of the class. Yes, plan for the extra time needed to do well.

Bio. Sci. 5 - Human Anatomy (or 7 A/B)

Any one looking at Bio 5 or 7 A/B should understand these are designed for pre-health careers, should know some terminology and general concepts of body structure, have sufficient time to permit outside-of-class study and pretty good motivation. Bio 55 or Medical terminology are suggested advisories. DON'T do this just as an elective.

Bio. 7 A/B covers the same material as Bio. 5, just at a slower pace (over two semesters instead of one). We do not recommend either of these courses for general education students. Bio. 56 (56L) or Bio. 55 would be better if the students are interested in anatomy and physiology of humans. Bio. 55 is generally more rigorous than Bio. 56.

Bio. 55 would be an great introduction to Bio. 5 (or 7A/B) for those students who have not taken a college level biology/science class before. It is not listed as a prerequisite to Bio. 5 due (largely) to the demands of the nursing program and limits on time and units for that major. Taking longer (more semesters) is not a bad idea for the average student, if the student wants to excel and master the concepts.

There are additional resources and laboratory study times available. Find out when those open lab time are for the semester you are planning on attending and study in the lab (live there).

Bio. Sci. 11 - Concepts of Biology

Bio. 11 is not equivalent to Bio. 1, even if they cover similar topics. Bio. 11 is the non-biology major course, used by students interested in biology, yet not committed to being a biology major, students full-filling transfer requirements for elementary teaching programs, and students looking for a general education biology class. If Bio. 11 is full, there are many other similar offerings with a different emphasis.

Bio. Sci. 16

Also, consider the educational values of field classes as you are planning your education as well as meeting educational requirements and degree programs.

Bio. Sci. 22 - Introduction to Botany

Bio. 22 is not the equivalent to Bio. 2. It is the non-biology major course for students with a general interest in learning about the biology of plants.

Interdisciplinary Department

There are now more offerings than Interdisciplinary 1 currently offered. Perhaps, as a related topic to biology, those offerings would be useful to your educational goals.

(more to come...)

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