3 Things to Know Before Declaring a Dietetics Major

The field of nutrition and dietetics is ever-expanding and changing before our eyes. Professionals and members of the Academy work continuously to implement strategies to improve the quality of care and educational materials dietitians can provide to patients and clients around the world.

If you’re considering declaring a major in nutrition and dietetics, you should know the potential twists and turns along the path you’ll be heading down, no matter where you are in your collegiate or professional career. Not only will you learn how to assess, counsel and educate those seeking professional nutrition advice, you’ll also become an expert in multiple academic disciplines while preparing for a post-undergraduate internship program.

You Will Learn More about the Human Body than You Ever Thought Possible

Biology is a fundamental discipline in the study of nutrition and dietetics. In order to understand how vitamins, minerals and macronutrients benefit the human body, it’s important to know the basics of how the body’s various systems work together to maintain life. You’ll take a few basic anatomy and physiology courses to master the basics, then move on to studying microorganisms and biochemical systems. You might even consider adding a little medical terminology and pathophysiology into the mix to expand your knowledge before entering your internship.

You and Chemistry Will Become Close Companions

From protons and electrons to complex bimolecular structures, you’ll find yourself up to your shoulders in chemistry textbooks and test tubes. Chemistry, like biology, is essential in order to reach an intellectual understanding of how the chemicals we put into our bodies both help and harm us as we grow and age. While you might struggle with a few complicated concepts along the way, you’ll emerge from each course with a better knowledge of how nutrition and fitness impact humans from the inside out.

You Will Need to Do More than Study in the Library

While you’ll need to spend a good portion of your undergraduate career with your head buried in textbooks, lesson plans and case studies, graduating summa cum laude won’t necessarily guarantee you a spot in an accredited internship program. While GPA is a major contributing factor to an applicant’s success in the matching process, a spacious resume is a major contributing factor to an applicant’s shortcoming. Become as involved on- and off-campus as you can. Join a club, volunteer in the area around your campus, get involved in a combination of jobs and extracurricular activities. If you can, affiliate yourself with a few organizations related to food, fitness or nutrition to make your involvement relevant to your dietetics-related goals. Just don’t over-involve yourself: While they’re not the only piece of the puzzle, your grades are still important when submitting your internship applications senior year.

The key to success in an undergraduate dietetics program is balance. Learn to balance academics, extracurricular activities, friends, and, of course, taking care of your own soul, body and mind. Never forget to put into practice what you’ll eventually pass on to your clients as a professional. Living a healthful lifestyle in college is the best way to prepare yourself to teach others, a few years down the road, to do the same.

Meg Dowell on Twitter
Meg Dowell
Meg Dowell is one biochemistry course away from a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She recently graduated with a B.A. in English, blogs for Kitchology.com and is the health/fitness/nutrition editor for College Lifestyles magazine. She hopes to begin her master's program at Benedictine University this January, pursuing an MS in nutrition and wellness with a concentration in nutrition entrepreneurship. Follow her on Twitter @MegDowell.