With hundreds of colleges to choose from, and hundreds of majors to declare…it all comes down to the questions of: What College? And most importantly, what will you study?
I lucked out and knew what I wanted to do from a fairly young age, so choosing a college that carried the major of dreams was simple. For many (and most) people out there that are still questioning what path to take, don’t rush it! Having to select a major and then switch over halfway through can be a long and grueling process.
Among the long list of majors…if you scroll down to the “N” section, you might find something along the lines of “Nutrition” or “Nutrition Sciences” or “Nutrition and Health Sciences”
When I first started my undergrad career, I had a decent amount of students enrolled in the major of Nutrition. By the end of the first year, many ended up switching majors or dropping out altogether. I’m not saying nutrition is a walk in the park (hello there biochemistry and organic chemistry) but you will find a lot of concepts quite easy to grasp and understand as well.
As a Nutrition Alumni to IUP who will still be on campus working with the undergrads, I have a lot of incoming nutrition freshman asking me questions regarding tests, classes, social life, study life, etc.
So, to all of you considering pursuing a major in Nutrition:
Here are ten important facts you need to know before selecting nutrition as your major:
1) You need to know more than just the food pyramid:
Be prepared for in-depth science courses regarding enzymes, digestion, bacteria/viruses, the chemistry of food, as well as classes regarding business/management, counseling patients/clients, the mathematical equations used in food service functions.
2) You’re entering a competitive field
If you are choosing to major in nutrition in the dietetics track, you will basically feel as though you’re competing against everyone in the room. Upon graduation when it’s time to apply for internships, it feels as though it’s a dog eat dog world. The match rate for receiving an internship is about a 50-55% due to the increasing number of students with a lack of internship opportunities.
3) You’re going to school for at least five years
If you’re majoring in nutrition and going down the “dietetics” track, chances are you’ll take 4 years to complete your bachelors + a fifth year to complete an unpaid, 8-12 month long internship in which YOU have to pay them. It’s necessary to become a dietitian, so sadly you can’t skip that last part.
4) You’re going to have the stigma of being a food nazi
If I had a dollar for the amount of people who were afraid to eat with me, claim I only eat salads, or tell me “not to judge their food” …. I’d be out of college debt.
5) You’re going to learn more than just the five basic food groups
A lot of misconception regarding classes has become prevalent to me. I get asked all the time if I learned about food labels and the food pyramid (now known as MyPlate). Of course we do, but we also learn about vitamins and minerals, how the digestive track works, the monotonous glycolysis and TCA cycle lectures and also medical nutrition therapy. If I don’t stress this enough, I probably should…but nutrition is not a walk in the park as it may seem.
6) You’ll probably get mistaken for being a “chef”
I’m not the best cook—I swear. I can probably estimate the amount of carbs, fats, and protein in your meal using the exchange list, but I probably am not the best cook you’ll meet.
7) Be prepared for everyone asking you for a meal plan/diet evaluation
Most people assume that because you’re majoring in nutrition you can whip up a meal plan and that’s all you’re good for—haha! Our courses range from microbiology to anatomy/physiology, to organic chemistry. We know a lot more than just what a person should eat.
8) Expect to have specific GPA minimum requirements
Nutrition isn’t the major you should choose if you plan to just snooze through class. For my school we had to maintain a minimum of 3.0, which sounds quite easy but the fact that most internships won’t even consider you unless you have a 3.25 is something else you have to think about. If a specific course is a prerequisite to another course needed for the major, you have to get at least a C in the class. My tip is to take class seriously—it’s going to be your profession!
9) Start looking for volunteering opportunities as soon as you can (if you haven’t already started)
Start building your resume as soon as you can! If you’re heading down the dietetics track of nutrition, volunteer and work experience in the field of health/nutrition is ranked high the list the internship coordinators want. Whether it’s a job/volunteer work at a local hospital or nursing home, teaching children about fruits and vegetables, or being able to shadow a dietitian for a few weeks, anything counts!
10) You will have endless opportunities to do with your degree:
Do you want to be a registered dietitian? Or maybe you want to start a health and wellness business. How about opening a gym? Doe working with athletes in the collegiate and professional level sound enticing? Or maybe you’re leaning towards research and labwork. There are ENDLESS opportunities, and the great thing to know is that our field is expanding every year!
Most importantly, know that if you’re passionate about health, wellness, and nutrition, you ARE on the right path by choosing this career!
contact me with any questions/advice at: firstname.lastname@example.org