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SEAS Freshman Chemistry/Physics Class Advice

trashnastygamingtrashnastygaming 10 replies4 postsRegistered User New Member
Hello, I am an incoming Biomedical Engineering major, and I was named an Egleston Scholar. Would you recommend I take Gen Chem or Intensive Gen Chem? Also, should I take Physics 1601 or Accelerated Physics (2801)? I have the appropriate AP credits for both physics and chem; also, just as a sidenote, I am not too scared of a challenging workload. Thanks
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Replies to: SEAS Freshman Chemistry/Physics Class Advice

  • SlowPopSlowPop 31 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    The best advice is to go to the academic orientation sessions and ask your adviser. Assuming you have a strong intro level foundation in chemistry, physics and calculus, - which you do since you're an Egleston Scholar - the intensive chem (or skip to orgo) and accelerated physics are certainly doable. The intro science classes are pretty much the same giant lectures and labs everywhere. The advanced tracks are much smaller and deeper. But, first-year is an adjustment for everyone and you will also need to squeeze in the parts of the Core required of engineers. Back in my day, the reading and writing load plus the very different skill sets of the humanities students meant that the Core classes were very humbling for engineers. You may have a 5 on AP English, but have you written as much as required every week in UniWriting in other than a 5 paragraph form? Discussion in Lit Hum and CC can seem like a very snooty foreign language with classmates steeped in the academic debates of literature, philosophy and polisci. So giving yourself some slack (i.e. taking fewer classes and some easier ones) is not a bad strategy.
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  • rosegold6rosegold6 15 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hi. Do NOT take Accelerated Physics unless you are a physics major. I took it my freshman year and I struggled a lot, mostly because the class is on a curve and 99% of my classmates are absolutely obsessed with physics and are very advanced. One kid taught himself physics from the Fineman lectures, not even from a textbook. Others had won awards in various countries. It's considered one of the toughest classes at Columbia and it will stress you out. I dropped it second semester and my GPA took a while to recover.

    I also recommend taking Gen Chem I. The thing about all the Engineering requirements is that nobody cares at ALL whether you took advanced courses your freshman year. Everyone, from grad schools to employers, only cares about your GPA when looking at your transcript. Gen Chem I is possible to get an A in, but Intensive Gen Chem is full of super intense pre-med kids who will work themselves until they literally collapse to get a perfect grade. Again, it's all on a curve. If I could do SEAS over again, I would take the easiest levels of Engineering requirements and only challenge myself with the classes I am truly passionate about later on.
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  • rosegold6rosegold6 15 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Also, you will have a challenging workload no matter what, because Columbia is very intense and all of your classmates are just as smart as you. Don't worry about that.
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