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Articles / Applying to College / Chem, Physics, or Bio for Future Business Tycoon?

June 10, 2010

Chem, Physics, or Bio for Future Business Tycoon?

Question: I am a Chinese student who is currently studying at a private school in Pittsburgh, PA. I just finished my junior year and am busy with selecting the courses for my coming senior year. Now there are three science courses that I am free to choose from - AP Bio, AP Physics C, and AP Chem. Due to the course load, my college counselor and I think it is only reasonable for me to choose two of them instead of all of them, so I am wondering which two I should take according to my intended college majors - I am planning to major in business, economics, management, etc.

Please kindly give me some advice on the fundamental courses for business-related majors since my goal is to become an entrepreneur. Like I have heard that students who want to major in psychology are encouraged to take "biology" during their high school years.


None of these three sciences has any specific relevance for business majors. However, once you're out in the "real world" after college, you will probably find that having some background in one or more of these areas might be beneficial to your professional life. For instance, if a drug company was looking for an executive, then your knowledge of chemistry or biology might be a plus. If, on the other hand, you were considering a position at a renewable-energy firm, then your physics experience could work in your favor. If you're not yet sure where your entrepreneurial instincts will take you, then you might be seeking experience in a variety of different areas, any of which might call upon your science know-how.

But as far as your current situation goes ... i.e., pending college applications ... your best bet is to take the most demanding course load that you ... or your schedule ... can handle. Given the rigor of all of these classes, any two of the three would "look good" on your transcript. However, many college admission officials (who commonly come from a humanities or social sciences background) are more intimidated by physics and chemistry than by biology. So, when viewing your transcript, they may feel that physics and chem combined make for a truly impressive course load. I realize that this is a rather silly perception. Indeed, AP Bio might have a reputation around your school as being the hardest class available, but--even so--the chemistry and physics could be perceived by admission folks as even harder.

Bottom line: It really doesn't matter which two of the three you choose. It's too early to predict which--if any--will play a role in your business success. College admission officials won't view any of these as a prerequisite to a business career. So choose the two classes that your heart tells you to take ... or at least those that will make your daily schedule (or your college counselor!) the most sane.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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