Chemistry Department

Portrait of a Chemistry Major

Is there one type of person who majors in chemistry? Of course not! Chemists come in all shapes and sizes and all socio-economic backgrounds. What unites them is a fascination with chemistry and the motivation and perseverance to get good at it.

Perhaps the basic common characteristic of people who are attracted by chemistry is their curiosity about the world around them. What makes the natural world function, and how can it be influenced responsibly? They want a career associated with lifelong learning and contact with the frontiers of scientific understanding. Some students have had a positive experience with chemistry in high school: an influential mentor, a particularly fun demonstration, or an interest in a high visibility chemical career like forensics or high temperature superconductors.

Whatever your initial motives for pursuing chemistry in college, give it your best shot. This may mean material sacrifices, which scientists have typically made for the love of their field. You won't have much leisure time . You will need to take particularly difficult schedules your freshman and sophomore years to master the basic concepts needed for upper division topics courses. Many students in science become discouraged if they don't "catch on to" concepts the first time encounter them. It takes everyone, including professors, lots of study, and perhaps several exposures to a concept before it makes complete sense. In other words, you don't have to know everything already and you don't have to understand things the first time you see them.

As a chemistry major, you will not have much extra money (unless you are independently wealthy) because working outside of school would take valuable time needed to master the subject area and fit in the laboratory experience. In the end, you will find that the dedication and perseverance were worth it.