Want to be a scientist? Attending a small town school may help you

COLLEGE STATION – Highpowered high schools in a big city provide a firm foundation for f ut ure ac ademic s in t he life sciences, but so do many smaller schools, with the latter even excelling in some aspects, according to an unusual study by a Texas A&M University neuroscientist.

William Klemm, a professor of neuroscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, surveyed the backgrounds of almost 500 faculty in the university’s life sciences departments and found that many of them attended small high schools and had a rural childhood.

“The survey shows that attending a large high school in a big city can offer some significant academic oppor tunities, but attending a small, rural school has its advantages, too, and these may be more important for nurturing budding scientists,” Klemm explains.

The survey polled professors at Texas A&M from 19 different life science areas, including biolog y, entomolog y, animal science and veterinary medicine. A lmost 60 percent of t hose polled attended a high school that had a graduation class of less than 300, and 41 percent were in classes of less than 150 graduating seniors.

Klemm says only 20 percent of the professors surveyed attended a “mega-school” of 500 or more graduating seniors.

While larger high schools might have bet ter- qua lif ied science teachers and offer an advanced curriculum, Klemm says smaller rural schools may have some advantages of their own, such as students who have been around animals and plants all of their lives and have helped their families raise both.

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2009-12-17 digital edition

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