When it comes to learning Biology, never underestimate the importance of having a strong teacher. A skilled science teacher drives the curiosity of students and inspires them to inquire about the natural world. They teach the importance of documenting detail, reporting results, and maintaining optimal labs and research environments. They will share their love for science and encourage scientific thinking in their classes.
Most importantly, strong science teachers develop the next generation of innovators, research biologists, and scholars. Having knowledgeable, passionate, and organized science teachers is essential to having a steady stream of science students out of high school, college, and universities. Those students become our nurses, doctors, lab technicians, conservationists, and researchers - just to name a few professions.
If you’re in Vancouver, you probably already know a few things about the opportunities for studying the sciences in the city’s numerous schools, colleges and universities. In addition to having great teachers, Vancouver is also the home of some of Canada’s richest and diverse ecosystems, creating the perfect backdrop for studying the life sciences. In this post, we have assembled a list of the options and pathways students can take if they are seeking studies in Biology. From budding scientists in elementary school to graduate school hopefuls, we have lots of information here that will help you navigate your journey as a learner.
So stop dreaming about studying the life sciences and start making an action plan now!
Why Study Biology?
Biology is a huge subject that covers diverse pathways of learning - and it’s scope means there’s something for everyone. From the tiny, microscopic things of cellular and molecular biology, to the study of bacteria and viral matter, to the vast ecosystems found all over the world, the biological sciences encompass all the living things of the world.
Subspecialties of biology are regularly added to the already extensive lists of fields - marine biology, virology, zoology, and epidemiology are always in the public eye, reporting on pandemic, global warming, ocean life, and the alarming rate of species decline. There are also much lesser known disciplines of biology like theoretical biology and biopsychology, also called behavioural neuroscience. A study of biology is bound to be challenging and compelling to the brightest minds and attracts some of the most talented scholars in the world.
Biologists are leading the charge of our climate change crisis: the latest UN report on climate and biodiversity revealed the startling projection that up to a million species are at risk of becoming extinct. Plant life, ocean life, insects, and mammals are all in jeopardy. Studying biology can be one of the most significant things humans can do to practice stewardship of our planet and help our world stay viable for future generations.
On the topic of global issues, a study of a biology can also take you into the study of epidemiology, or disease. You don’t have to look far to see how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of everyday life here in Canada, and will likely continue to do so in the future. Studying Biology can mean becoming part of a research team that can save lives, or joining a medical community that treats the infected.
The study of biology is typically a prerequisite for hundreds of fields and professions, and having a high school credit, BSc, or MSc in the topic will put you in a position to contribute to the world in incredible ways.
Here are just a handful of the jobs you can get with a Biology background:
- Wildlife biologist
- Marine biologist
Where to Upgrade Your Biology High School Credits
High school can often be a time of fun, distraction, and soul-searching: some students may go through school undecided about their future studies until they discover the right program, while others switch from one area of study to the next. It’s actually quite typical for students applying for post secondary studies to realize they either need a biology credit or have to upgrade their marks to get into their program of choice. For this reason, there are many options available for Vancouver students seeking a school to take or retake high school biology credits. Here are a few great options in the Vancouver area.
The Vancouver Community College (VCC) offers plenty of opportunities for upgrading your high school biology credits. Courses start anytime and are self-paced for mature students with a busy schedule. Best of all, tuition is free and you’ll get a statement of completion when you are done. If you’re an international student, be sure to visit their international site for more information.
Columbia College is another school with solutions for students needing secondary credits, or looking to complete an Associate Degree. Columbia College programs are designed with a focus on helping students start careers or transition to university. The school has 4 high school options for students either looking to upgrade or gain admission into other post-secondary programs.
Finally, Vancouver students can also look to their local public school boards for secondary Biology credits. The Vancouver School Board offers adult education courses for mature students looking to get a credit for their high school diploma or college/university program: simply check out the website and find the option that best fits your schedule.
Learn the Life Sciences in College
If you’re ready to enter the workforce in a biology-related field like healthcare, laboratory work, or dental hygiene, a college program will quickly take you on that path. Vancouver is home to fantastic colleges with Associate degree, diploma, and certificate programs that will help you land the job of your dreams.
Langara College is an established school in Vancouver, and offers a comprehensive selection of programs in Science and Technology. Students can work toward an Associate of Science Degree or a Diploma in Arts and Science through coursework in areas such as Ecology, Bioinformatics, Biology, or general Arts and Science.
Another great school offering Biology programs in Vancouver is British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). BCIT has a broad selection of innovative diploma and Bachelors degree programs in areas like Biomedical Engineering Technology, Ecological Restoration, and Wildlife. BCIT also has part-time secondary courses in the life sciences and anatomy for anyone looking to upgrade their marks to get into their program of choice.
In addition to upgrading courses for secondary credits, Vancouver Community College also offers various certificates and diplomas in fields related to the life sciences: learn to be a laboratory assistant, pharmacy technician, or obtain a certificate in health sciences. Be sure to check that you have the right course prerequisites before you apply!
Find a Degree Program in University
The highest level of study in the sciences happens in university, so if you are up to the challenge and want to obtain the best qualifications for a career in medicine, conservation, or research, this is the place to go. At the university level, students typically work toward a Bachelors or Masters degree in Science, and some even go on for a PhD.
In Vancouver, the University of British Columbia has a campus located in beautiful natural surroundings just south of the downtown core. UBC students can choose from a variety of biology programs: animal, cell, marine, environmental, ecology, and evolutionary biology to name a few. UBC’s Faculty of Science has a strong reputation, with graduates going on to become leaders in the areas of cancer research, higher education, and conservation. Setting your sights on this school can be a great way to advance your career!
Simon Fraser University is another major Canadian school with a campus in metropolitan Vancouver. SFU’s department of Biological Sciences has a sizable staff of 44 teaching and research faculty as well as a bustling graduate studies program. Their team specializes in the areas of neurobiology, plant molecular biology, toxicology, evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology, and conservation biology.
Hands On Biology for Budding Scientists
Perhaps you have a little scientist in your life? Vancouver has you covered with loads of private science programs and camps for kids. In elementary school, content based subjects like Science and Social Studies get pushed onto the back burner so the essentials of math and literacy can be prioritized. To top it all off, budget constraints can sometimes make science learning materials scarce leaving teachers with little choice but to teach with a minimum amount of experimentation.
Organizations like High Touch High Tech Hands, Mad Science, and BrainSTEM learning are just a few companies that offer science programming for youngsters to get them into inquiry and experimentation early. Of course, one of the best parts is that they keep the mess out of your home so your children can experience the joy of mixing and exploring in a kid-friendly environment. Kids also benefit from learning in smaller groups and socializing with other like-minded peers.
Enhance Your Learning with a Biology Tutor
Whether your focus is on getting high marks in secondary school, undergraduate courses, or college diploma classes, you may find that you want a tutor to guide and enrich your learning. Having a Biology tutor can make a huge difference in your academic performance. A tutor can give you 1-to-1 support you simply will not get in a lecture hall or classroom, and share their passion for inquiry and perspective with you. They have likely already been through significant parts of the education system, and can tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Another great advantage to having a tutor is that you can choose what you want to emphasize. All too often teachers follow a one-size-fits all approach in a traditional classroom that leaves many students behind. This can get worse in an online environment, where it becomes all too easy to detach oneself from a virtual learning environment where you can simply walk away from your computer. A tutor can be the perfect supplement to your learning, and will work with the singular focus of helping you to achieve positive, individualized learning outcomes.
Perhaps you are a parent with a reluctant learner? Having a tutor to help your child can not only eliminate parenting stress but give your child another great role model and pathway into learning. It’s not uncommon to feel frustrated by the lack of support in public education - or perhaps you simply want the absolute best learning experience for your child - so having a tutor work with your child can be a great investment in your family’s education.
Vancouver has great tutors and schools that can help you prepare for a test or assignment to get the grades you need at any level of study. Let’s take a quick look at how you can find a tutor in your area.
Find a Private Biology Tutor with Superprof
Superprof is a website that enables you to choose from an available pool of the best tutors in your area. You can compare each tutor’s background, pricing, and schedule until you find one that works. Superprof tutors will consult with you to find out exactly what you need from them and how they can best serve your learning needs. They can work with you via webcam so you can stay in the comfort and safety of your own home, and will personalize the learning experience so you are prepared to write exams and tests confidently.
Study Biology Online through MOOCs
As much as we romanticize and relish the idea of learning in the halls of higher learning and laboratories, we should not ignore the option of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are great if you are seeking to broaden your knowledge base in a topic you would like to understand comprehensively. These courses are cheap and often self-paced. To attend class without the pressures of graduating or taking exams is truly a joy and supports a habit of lifelong learning.
MOOCs are generally free and offered by some of the top universities in the world, like Harvard, MIT, and even locally here from the University of British Columbia. These courses are generally free and for a reasonable fee you can get a certificate to verify course completion. If you are a driven, self-motivated student with a desire to learn a MOOC could be right for you!
Here’s a quick rundown of some major schools that are offering MOOCs in Biology. Check out university websites or EdX to get a list of courses across all disciplines!
- MITx offers Introduction to Biology, Biographs, and a series of Molecular Biology courses
- Harvardx offers courses in Bioethics, Fundamentals of Neuroscience and Quantitative methods in Biology
- UCSanDiegoX has courses in Applications of Genomics and Genome Sequencing