Brock Fluharty;105608 said:
The thought of college is still a bit daunting...I don't really understand stuff about degrees, and majors, etc. I hope this is normal for a sophomore...
Don't worry about it. When most people talk about "going to college," they mean getting a four-year degree, called a Bachelor's degree. After commencement (the fancy college word for graduation), some people decide they really liked school and want more of it. These people can spend two more years in school and get a Master's degree; or even longer and get a PhD (which means Doctor of Philosophy--don't ask!). This is collectively known as graduate school (because you're still in school, but you've already graduated!).
Graduate school differs from regular college. As an undergraduate (someone who's in college, but hasn't yet graduated) your life will be similar to how it is in high school, except you'll be much more independent. You'll still go to classes, you'll still do homework; but things have been stepped up a notch--you can't get away with missing assignments, and you'll write a lot of papers at the end of each semester and they're expected to be of pretty good quality. When you go to grad school, things are stepped up a bit further: you're usually expected to teach some classes or labs, take a few advanced classes and work on a project of your own. When I say project, I mean doing real honest-to-goodness science to be published--something that other professional scientists will look critically at.
Graduate school is a lot of hard work and it isn't for everyone. Some graduate schools will be able to waive your tuition and give you a small stipend, but it often isn't enough to live on. I think it's safe to say that most graduate students take on considerable debt to pursue their goals; tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, there are a lot more students who want to be marine biologists than there are jobs, which is why you'd probably want a PhD to have a good chance at getting a position. In fields like this where there aren't a lot of jobs you also can't be too choosy on where you'll be. If there's a good graduate school that will take you in a different part of the country you have to be willing to move. If you picture yourself living in a particular place, this might not be your thing. This isn't endemic to marine biology, I suspect if you go to your local research university and ask professors of all fields where they grew up and went to school I doubt many will be local. This can be difficult on relationships--if you meet someone special in college will they be willing to move with you, multiple times?
Some of these things may sound discouraging. I don't necessarily mean for it to be although I think it's important to know what it might be like. Most people who become professional scientists thrive on the challenge and adversity. People who do well under pressure. If you're a sophomore in high school you've got plenty of time to think about what you see yourself doing. Take as many advanced math and science classes as you can and see if you have an affinity for it--and more importantly, if you find yourself looking forward to staying up all night with the textbooks!