Chemistry is a popular field of STEM specialization for students stepping into university. Thousands of high-school students opt for chemistry majors every year. The subject offers vital skills in research, critical thinking, analysis, collaborative problem-solving, and writing. It opens up opportunities in several career fields, such as medicine, life science research, forensics, and the pharmaceutical industry.
When it comes to the pay scales in the industry, you expect a great start even as a beginner. The average annual salary of a chemist in the US is $78,762. That’s just a start because salaries dramatically increase as professionals gain more experience and training. Overall employment in the industry is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, with an average of 8200 annual openings.
These numbers are encouraging for a high school student looking to get into a chemistry course at the university. Before that, you need to understand that mastering the subject requires dedication and commitment. You can get a head start by digging deep into advanced chemistry concepts, even as a high-schooler.
Here are the ones every aspiring chemist must know and understand:
Reaction kinetics is the branch of physical chemistry uncovering the rates of chemical reactions. It covers the study of factors influencing reactions, such as the nature, concentration, and physical state of reactants, temperature, pressure, catalysts, and rapid kinetics fluorescence. Based on these factors, chemical reactions are classified as slow, moderate, and fast.
Kinetics is a crucial concept as it validates evidence for the mechanisms of different chemical processes. An in-depth knowledge of reaction mechanisms helps chemists decide on the most effective way for a reaction to occur. Observing chemical reactions also helps with the identification of unknown samples in labs.
Although the basic atomic structure is something you learn from the beginning, you need to move to advanced concepts to be university-ready. At this stage, you should be adept at drawing Lewis Dot structures to represent valence electrons and atomic bonds. With Nitrogen being the most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere (78%), the Lewis structure for N2 is the most commonly tested concept.
Proprep recommends using visual learning materials such as video tutorials to gain a better understanding of the concept. The good thing is that such materials are easily available on online learning platforms, making them easy to access whenever you want. You can also use flashcards as a bite-sized learning material.
Chemical equilibrium refers to a dynamic process comprising forward and reverse reactions at equal rates. The composition of a system at equilibrium does not change with time. While the concentrations of the components of the system remain constant at the equilibrium state, they need not be equal.
The concept plays a critical role in industrial processes as it can help maximize the desired product concentration during a chemical reaction by minimizing the leftover reactants. If you want to build a career in the field of industrial chemistry, you must master this concept from the outset.
Neurochemistry is an advanced concept that integrates biology, making it a compelling one for aspiring biochemists. It studies the identities, structures, and functions of neurochemicals, the key compounds generated by the nervous system. These include serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and other neurotransmitters.
At a deeper level, neurochemistry study includes areas such as interactions of chemical components of the brain, neural plasticity, and neural development. It also studies the physical changes in the brain during aging and disease. The knowledge of advanced neurochemistry can set you up for a rewarding career in this super-specialty field.
Thermochemistry is the branch of thermodynamics that studies changes occurring during chemical reactions. The concept focuses on the heat energy associated with reactions and phase changes such as boiling or melting. The basis of the study is that chemical reactions and phase changes release or absorb energy.
While studying advanced thermochemistry, you will come across topics such as heat capacity, the heat of formation, the heat of combustion, entropy, enthalpy, and free energy. The concept leans more toward physics, making it apt for students with an interest in physics and chemistry.
Although chemistry is a challenging subject to master, it opens up excellent career opportunities and growth potential for students. An early start with these advanced concepts can give you a winning edge as you begin with a university-level degree.
Fortunately, learning them as a high-schooler is easier than you imagine. You can seek help from your professors or leverage an online learning platform to find answers to questions and fuel your curiosity.