While I at first dismissed all colleges on the West Coast due to their location far from home, I’ve recently come to understand a few things. First, the majority of the best schools for Environmental Science are on the West Coast. Second, if one of the best would accept me and I like the program, why wouldn’t I go? Third, I want to live somewhere different; isn’t this the epitome of that desire? So, I’ve revisited the idea.
The environmentally related programs offered at Berkeley are much more streamlined than those offered at URI. Granted, that means options are a little limited — but I’m the first to admit that I sometimes work better with limited options, as too many choices can become overwhelming. I am particularly interested in the Masters of Forestry and the PhD in Integrative Biology. There is a significant amount of work I would have to do to be a competitive candidate for the Integrative Biology program — but I think the program would be worth it, and I’m looking in to more information. Additionally, there’s a great student teaching program associated with the IB program, which would help address serious financial challenges.
The first program which catches my eye at Berkeley is the Masters of Forestry program. While this seems like a very boring choice (doesn’t everyone want to do something so exciting as discover new species?), I think it would be enjoyable. At the very least, I much prefer being outside to being inside, and a job in this field would certainly fit the profile. A Masters of Forestry would also create an easy path to a PhD program, if I so choose. Additionally, a forester can be employed in both urban and rural environments, so I’d have my pick of living conditions. And last but not least, those who graduate from this program are certified Foresters — in fact, it’s the only program in California which provides certification upon graduation.
The other program I would be interested in? Integrative Biology. The problem? They want a biological sciences major with research experience. Technically, they say that other degrees may apply — but realistically, that means other degrees have still taken all or the majority of the requirements to get a BS in Biology. Regardless, I’ve asked for more information on courses I might need to take if I wished to apply to this program. The second problem is that the program only accepts PhD students, which involves a certain amount of commitment — but I think if I could get accepted, it would be beyond worth the time and effort involved. This program is incredibly interdisciplinary, with focuses such as ecology and paleontology and everything in-between. And most importantly, it has a strong student teaching program, which would significantly help the financial side of things. Just saying — that would rock.
Pro: both programs are highly rated in the country — the Forestry program is 3rd in the nation, and the Integrative Biology program is 1st.
Pro: California is beautiful, and I’d love to live somewhere new for a while.
Con: I would hate to live so far from my family — but if just for a few years? I’m sure I could manage. Just not sure my mom could (sorry mom — it’s the truth).
Con: There’s a chance I will have to do significant legwork for the Integrative Biology program — but that is my preferred program of the two, I think, based on its interdisciplinary basis and teaching program. So I just need to figure out what courses I would need to become a competitive candidate, and take those in my spare time…if I can find the time to spare, of course.