Read this if your child wants to study chemistry at university

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There are few degree courses with the prestige of chemistry. After all, studying matter and energy means learning to understand what is happening everywhere in the universe. Few other subjects can boast the same thing.

Whether you are a parent with your own scientific background or not, you will undoubtedly want to support your son or daughter to the best of your ability should they choose a chemistry degree at university.

If your teen is at the age where they are turning their attention to a future career and, more immediately, a place at university, you may want to carry out a little of your own research so that you can provide the best support to your child. You may want to know exactly what their course will involve, what their prospects are for future employment, and what you can do now to start preparing them for success down the line.

Well don’t worry, we have all the answers you need right here. This is chemistry at university explained for parents.

What exactly is the subject of chemistry all about?

Chemistry is the study of molecules, atoms, matter and energy. It looks into what makes up the substances around us, how they interact with each other and what role they play in life.

Chemistry is one of a group of sciences that includes:

  • Biological sciences: molecular biology, pharmacology and biochemistry
  • Environmental chemistry: understanding processes like climate change, waste management and pollution on a molecular level
  • Materials chemistry: an interdisciplinary field looking at the chemical structure of materials and how they react in their environment

There are also other disciplines related to chemistry, such as chemical engineering.

What skills will your teen pick up by studying chemistry?

A degree in chemistry is particularly demanding because it requires your son or daughter to gather a large body of knowledge, which significantly increases in complexity within higher education. Even if they study chemistry but then choose a career in a different field, there are plenty of universal skills that chemistry offers, including:

  • Good written skill via scientific reports
  • Skills in collating and analysing large quantities of data
  • Getting used to using logical thought processes
  • Applying prior knowledge to problem solving cases
  • Attention to detail by keeping a close eye on experiments and observations
  • A wide scientific knowledge, which lends itself to many different roles.

What careers could they go into with a chemistry degree?

Once your teen graduates they may decide to use their degree to get themselves a career in a chemistry-related field. If this doesn’t turn out to be the case, they have plenty of options to choose from. These options include but are not limited to:

  • Pharmaceuticals: which includes developing and testing medicine
  • Food technology: creating foods and food additives
  • Manufacturing: applicable to a number of industries
  • Petrochemicals: developing oil, gas and their products
  • Forensics: examining criminal evidence
  • Teaching and researching in academia or an industry
  • Journalism or publishing: writing or editing for scientific books, journals and other publications

What can you do to prepare them for their course?

There is plenty you can do to help get your child as prepared as possible for their chemistry course, including:

  • Joining ChemNet: the Royal Society of Chemistry’s membership scheme for 14-18 year olds
  • Attending chemistry events like Big Bang
  • Trying chemistry summer schools like Cambridge Immerse, providing teens with the chance to experience university life and get a flavour of a degree course over one or two weeks.