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Bio Major Pre-med Difficulty

blazinyan300blazinyan300 Posts: 738Registered User Member
edited May 2008 in Cornell University
How difficult is it to be a pre-med Bio major in CALS? How rigorous is the curriculum? What clases need to be taken? Are the profs good? Is it hard to do well? I have heard getting the mean is an achievement, but isn't it bad in terms of being competitive for med school?
Post edited by blazinyan300 on
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Replies to: Bio Major Pre-med Difficulty

  • norcalguynorcalguy Posts: 7,541Registered User Senior Member
    Bio's about as easy as it gets as far as science majors go. If you hit the means in every class you'll end up with around a 3.3 GPA because most classes are curved to a B+. So, get above the mean in a few of the bio courses and get A's in all of the non-science courses and you should be good to go.
  • blazinyan300blazinyan300 Posts: 738Registered User Member
    I assume it is very difficult to even get the mean, but even with that, is it enough to still get into a decent med school. I don't mean to be senile, but I think that a strong applicant needs to get well above the mean in most of his classes, considering that I want to get into an MD/PhD program, where grades are like the #1 category for evaluation.
  • dewdrop87dewdrop87 Posts: 3,397Registered User Senior Member
    I have a connection to the admissions committee at a medical school I really want to attend...and she said they don't look down upon a B+ (3.3) from Cornell.

    I've also heard from a few sources that some medical schools are starting to place importance on your performance in biochem. According to this source (who has spoken with many deans of admission at med schools), they would rather see you do very well in biochem than get an A in orgo.

    Also...for MD/PhD...it will be very important for you to show achievement in research (ex. a publication).
  • blazinyan300blazinyan300 Posts: 738Registered User Member
    Is that supposed to mean that we should take biochem before we apply and not wait until senior yr to take it.
  • dewdrop87dewdrop87 Posts: 3,397Registered User Senior Member
    Yes...most people around here take biochem their junior year. You also have 2 options..you can take autotutorial biochem which covers 2 semesters of biochem in 1. Or, you can take the 331+332 sequence. I found that most people take 332 in the spring of sophomore year and 331 in the fall of junior year since 331 is not a pre-req for for 332 and vice versa.

    However...there are some who postpone 332 until senior year (like myself) b/c they plan to take a year off before applying.
  • norcalguynorcalguy Posts: 7,541Registered User Senior Member
    I don't think it's very hard to get the mean in most bio courses.
  • blazinyan300blazinyan300 Posts: 738Registered User Member
    What advice to do you guys have for someone who is thinking about transferring because I was already accepted as a GT for this fall? Can you describe the CALS curriculum in greater depth? How many bio labs does one need to graduate? Is animal physiology track difficult, compared to biochem or gen bio track?
  • dewdrop87dewdrop87 Posts: 3,397Registered User Senior Member
    I don't think it's very hard to get the mean in most bio courses.

    exactly....if I can make the mean...anyone can do it...lol

    As for CALS bio curriculum...I can't help you much there since I wasn't a Bio major.
  • norcalguynorcalguy Posts: 7,541Registered User Senior Member
    CALS bio is exactly the same as CAS bio which is why biological sciences has its own section in the coursebook and is not listed under CALS or CAS.

    These are the requirements for the bio major:
    1. Introductory biology for majors (one year): BIO G 101 and 103 plus 102 and 104, or 105–106. BIO G 107–108, offered during the eight-week Cornell summer session for 8 credits, also satisfies the introductory biology requirement for majors.
    2. General chemistry: CHEM 207–208 or 215. Students who, via advanced placement, take only CHEM 208 or only 215 should be aware that some professional and graduate schools require 8 credits of general chemistry. These students may wish to take both CHEM 215 and 208 or 215 and 216. Students may wish to consult with their faculty advisor or advisors in the Office of Undergraduate Biology for further clarification.
    3. College mathematics (one year): one semester of calculus (MATH 106, 111, 191, or their equivalent) plus one semester selected from the following:
    a. a second semester of calculus (MATH 112, 192, or their equivalents).
    b. a course in finite mathematics (MATH 105).
    c. a course in statistics (BTRY 301, MATH 171, AEM 210, ILR 212, PSYCH 350, PAM 210, ECON 319, ECON 321, SOC 301).
    4. Organic chemistry: CHEM 257 and 251, or 357–358 and 251, or 357–358 and 301, or 359–360 and 251, or 359–360 and 301.
    5. Physics: PHYS 101–102, 207–208,* or 112–213.* Those who take PHYS 112–213 are advised to complete PHYS 214 as well.
    6. Genetics: BIOGD 281.
    7. Biochemistry: BIOBM 330, or 331 and 332, or 333.
    8. Evolutionary biology: BIOEE 278 or BIOPL 448. Note: BIOPL 241 Botany is a prerequisite course to BIOPL 448.
    9. A program of study selected from the outline below.

    The only place where different bio majors differ is in #9, the specific requirements for the different concentrations whether it be biochem, molecular bio, animal physiology, neurobio, etc. Usually each concentration only involves 4-6 extra courses so it's not a big deal. I would just take whatever concentration you're interested in. The only one I might find slightly challenging would be the biochem track because you have to take p-chem. That's why I ended up a molecular bio concentration, almost exactly the same requirements, minus p-chem. And don't take the general bio track. It makes no sense to COCENTRATE in GENERAL bio. That has to be a paradox.
  • blazinyan300blazinyan300 Posts: 738Registered User Member
    Gotcha. Now what was your avg schedule like though. Did you take biochem and like genetics simultanously? Sorry to be a pest but I find you to be one of the wisest on the board norcal in both Cornell matters and pre-med, so your advice actually means a lot to me. I was thinking of doin molecular bio also, what other classes did you personally take? Thanks.
  • norcalguynorcalguy Posts: 7,541Registered User Senior Member
    I took 3 sciences/semester each of my first 4 semesters to get my prereq's out of the way so that I could take the MCAT at the end of my sophomore year. The last two years were just cake. 2 bio courses/semester and 2 humanities courses/semester. Fairly stress-free, especially the last two years.

    For molec. bio, I took BioBM440 Biochem lab (very useful course for future researchers), BioBM432 Survey of Cell bio, BioAP 316 Cellular Physiology (easy A; I got an A+ despite skipping most of the classes), BioAP 413 Histology (first year med course), and BioBM632 Proteins (graduate biophysics course; another easy A since most graduate courses are pretty easy). That's it. That's all I took in addition to the general bio requirements (biochem, evol. bio, genetics, gen bio). There's a lot of flexibility so that you don't have to take those same courses if you want to do molec. bio but I personally liked most of the courses I took. I didn't like BioBM 432 so much because it was so early in the morning but that's the one course you must take if you want to do cell/molecular bio since it's the core cell bio course.
  • lianrilianri Posts: 450User Awaiting Email Confirmation Member
    After two years here, I still just don't understand why all these hundreds of pre-meds at Cornell don't just go to a SUNY school, get great grades, get into good med schools and have a better time while they're at it.
  • Brown man1987Brown man1987 Posts: 961Registered User Member
    I second lianri's opinion... being premed here sucks hardcore. Classes are curved very low initially, and premed kids are very competitive. Honestly, you would be better off just taking the required premed courses and majoring in something easy like AEM, history, or econ to bring your GPA up. But, something like 86% of kids with a 3.4 who apply to med school get in.
  • norcalguynorcalguy Posts: 7,541Registered User Senior Member
    After two years here, I still just don't understand why all these hundreds of pre-meds at Cornell don't just go to a SUNY school, get great grades, get into good med schools and have a better time while they're at it.

    umm...because you can come to Cornell, get a world-class education, get good grades, get into good med schools, and have a great time while you're at it?

    You can make this argument about any top college. Why in the world do people still go to schools like Harvard or Cornell when they can go to their state schools and coast through 4 years? And yet top med schools are still chocked full of Ivy grads.

    The OP is interested in Columbia Med. Despite being a NY school, do you know how many SUNY premeds matriculated at Columbia last year? TWO. DOS. 2. All of the SUNY's combined. # of Cornellians listed in their handbook as the Class of 2011? 9. I'll take my chances with Cornell.
  • nuitsansetoilesnuitsansetoiles Posts: 62Registered User Junior Member
    Honestly, you would be better off just taking the required premed courses and majoring in something easy like AEM, history, or econ to bring your GPA up.

    I thought the introductory classes (the required premed courses) were the difficult, weed-out classes. So wouldn't it not really make a difference if you choose to major in something other than biology?
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