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What is Geology/Paleontology Really?

In theory what is it?

Study of the earth's composition, dynamics, and history.

What is it used for?

Mostly, identifying mineral resources. Additionally, earth scientist identify hazards, work in environmental awareness, and piece together the past to better understand the present and future (e.g. climate change).

What does the major actually entail - work-wise?

Dedication! you have to want it. At many schools, the earth science department is small compared to others, such as biology and medicine. It can be very lonely on campus. However, it also means that there is less competition than in many other fields. All and all, you need to get to graduate school! Don't waste time taking class after class at the undergraduate level! Concentrate on the basics, such as math, chemistry, and physics. These are your basic tools and will serve you well in what ever you do even if you end up pursuing another field of study.

What kind of jobs do you get with it?

USE YOUR HEAD! Don't just finish your degree then step out into the job market and say 'here I am, hire me!'Start exploring your options early. Believe it or not there are many, too many to list. Think globally, and not just locally. Some people even end up starting there own businesses in surveying, mining, engineering or consulting work. Be creative and KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN for opportunity! Also, be prepared to change jobs within your career. This I have seen to be a common occurrence. You probably won't be a millionaire, but I haven't met an earth scientist yet who wasn't making a comfortable living.

What are the fellow students like (personalitywise) in it?

This could be a problem for some. Most students and professionals that I have met come from families that are well-to-do, or have scientist within the family, so they are already predisposed to sciences. Unless you come from such a background, you may have a hard time fitting in with such people. They can have a very elitist attitude, and can be very snooty.

Common Misconceptions

"It's just a bunch of rocks and old stuff." Rocks are a compendium of earth's history and are vital to human existence. The study of earth science is often fun and exciting. Earth scientist are critical to society, although many other professionals (biologist, politicians, economist, etc…) often fail to recognize their contribution. Most importantly, many think that there is no money in it. Depending on what field you choose within earth science, it is possible to make six digits a year. However, most don't make this much, but they do make a living, and most enjoy it!
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