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Academics at Emory

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Replies to: Academics at Emory

  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    Emory's pretty solid for biology (at least for a pre-med. Grad school.....again, better cherrypick really well) and with some solid chemistry professors (having a chem background/or the skills you get from some of the chem./math classes, (which is good for the more rigorous biology classes/profs. Immunology, Cell w/Eisen, Advance Mol. Genetics w/Yokoyama, are perfect examples of this), your daughter would be able to handle the more challenging professors, so she wouldn't have to bore herself. I've compared some of the course materials w/some close peers (Ivy and Non), and it was very similar to those institutions except in the developmental biol and genetics area (we can use work in those). Most chemistry courses were more rigorous and than closer peers and likely had a better variety of profs. to choose from. Many peers for example, only have like 1-2 gen. chem or organic lecturers whereas Emory has like 3-5, usually 3 of which are very good for each sequence. The only pre-med students who tend to complain about their chem. lecturers are normally the ones who chose a prof. because they thought they would be easier than the prized lecturers. The same could be said for intro. biol profs. One thing Emory must be credited for is the fact that, it keeps the intro. sciences very small compared to peers and tries to hire teachers that go beyond just lecturing and giving assessments every now and then. I believe they are making changes to biol. so that more profs. do active learning and also diversify the exam format. Dr. Spell (a well-known and excellent biol prof. that uses several methods to teach content other than "sage on stage"), for example, as of this year, apparently now has a large part of her exam be short answer and problem solving (she used to remark that it simply takes too long to grade, which is why she doesn't do it anymore, so it has been years...). The other professors have followed suit (those who did it in the past expanded it further). This alone has added rigor to the gen. biology sequence and also an oppurtunity for those like me (who aren't the best MC test takers) to show what they know. And interestingly enough, though the exams are technically harder, the grades are still decent (and I don't think it comes from soft grading of short answer. I think some students can simply handle more challenging questions if given a chance to present their logic as opposed to marking an answer while feeling pressured for time and confused by other answer choices).
  • DreamsAreRealDreamsAreReal Registered User Posts: 133 Junior Member
    @bernie12 Do you know how Emory's pre-med would compare to that of Washington University in St. Louis? I recently got accepted to WashU, which is great, but I don't know if I can handle the competition. I heard it's far too tough, and after realizing that I struggle with Chemistry in particular (after taking AP Chem this year), I've found that I want to go to an easier college so I can maintain the GPA necessary for me to get into med school. That being said, is Emory particularly tough in terms of giving students low grades? I'm not a brilliant student--I'm more of a hard worker. How much time do most spend on pre-med homework? How hard will it be for me to get an A? You said it wasn't that bad for bio, which I'm glad about, but I think I'm more concerned with Chem and Orgo
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    I would imagine that general chemistry and biology are harder at WashU (and so are physics and math). General Chem. here has low exam averages (between 65 and 80, basically so that course GPA comes out to a between a high C+, like 2.6 and a high B-, like 2.9), but will not curve because there are other sources to help the grade (lab, HW, clicker quizzes). I think WashU makes gen. chem difficult enough so that they yield exam averages where they have to put it on a curve which usually guarantees that the average is held to 2.7 (a perfect B-. At Emory, it will literally vary depending upon the quality of the class). Biology is probably a low 3 (like 3.0-3.1) so I'm sure WashU is lower. Organic at Emory varies wildly from prof, but I'm pretty sure the top 3 profs. for it are some of the most difficult at any university.

    The distribution of A's/A- for each section of 221 (Orgo 1) was as follows:

    1) 41% (3.3)
    2)31% (3.15)
    3)21/15(this prof. had two sections. If you combine them, it is 16%, as the one with 21% was a bit smaller than the other. Came out to like 2.8)
    4)21% (but lots of C's so came out to 2.5)
    5)10% (but mostly B's and less C's than 4 so came out to 2.5)

    This looks rough, but you actually want to choose 3,4,5 (and maybe get some sort of B) as 1 and 2 are completely devoid of standards and will ultimately result in you having a disadvantage the next semester even if you choose the easiest among the 222 profs., you will struggle on their curve. I'll explain how. What happens is, the students from easy 221 profs. flow into an easy or new 222 prof. However, those from "3,4, and 5" who got lower grades than desired also flow in and pretty much take the top of the curve because the difference between those 3 profs and the other 2 are so large that students in the 3 already understand and know how to do things that those in the high grading sections don't (and have likely already been exposed to some of the 222 material). If you are worried about your chem. score, just take 3,4, or 5 for 221 and then transition to the easier section if you are worried (though for rec. letter purposes, it's best to just stay if you get a B in one of the tough profs' class. They are all really nice if you do the work and don't complain).

    For gen. chem, even if you are afraid of chem, go with a "big 3" (McGill, Weaver, or Mulford) as they will give the best foundation for handling orgo. or the MCAT (I prefer McGill, however, as she stresses more conceptual knowledge than the others. And since orgo. at Emory is heavily conceptual, she lays the groundwork for one to be able to think about chemistry in a non-quantitative or algorithmic fashion).


    Also, don't worry about WashU being tough. It actually works out better if you do the work and tough it out. There is a reason that pre-meds there average like 32 on the MCAT. You can come to Emory and enjoy a less competitive environment, but you have to be careful to avoid the trap of running away from rigorous science coursework (WashU forces the rigor, whereas Emory gives choice. Too often people at the latter abuse the "choice" to their detriment). Too many people here get decent GPAs and very sad MCATs. If you end up choosing Emory, beware of the bandwagon effect that will lead you to such a path. Be very careful about striking the balance of maintaining the GPA and challenging yourself for preparatory (and personal) purposes. This definitely means not being easily influenced by pre-med peers and pre-health mentoring advisors which will tell you to just "take the easy way". It may screw you over....just saying. The WashU environment and the Emory environment could potentially be simultaneously harmful and beneficial in your case. Just something to think about. Both are awesome for pre-med, technically. Though I would say WashU may be more effective in preventing the chase of "easy road", I guess Emory's relatively non-competitive atmosphere is a good thing (as in grading and coursework does not inadvertently spark visible competition).
  • DreamsAreRealDreamsAreReal Registered User Posts: 133 Junior Member
    @bernie12 Thanks so much for taking the time to type that--it's very informative and I greatly appreciate it! :] Yes, it does make sense that MCAT scores of WashU students will be quite higher, but is it because it's a standardized test and WashU typically takes in students with very high standardized test scores to begin with? I am looking for a medium-level challenge, which I hope Emory will offer me. I just can't afford to end up with a GPA centered at the typical premed average of 2.7 because that'd ruin all my dreams. I did get accepted to UNC Chapel Hill as well, but I'm wondering if that one would be on the easier side.

    I also found it interesting how you said that Emory takes labs, HW, and quizzes into account when it comes to grades. I think that will definitely help give me a boost, seeing as I haven't been the best test taker in AP Chem so far. I'm glad you told me about that part! As for the professors, wow, there seems to be a huge disparity between the grading. Maybe Emory would be a fit since it's in-between; it's not as difficult as WashU nor is it as easy as my safety schools. I'm just hoping I can get at least a 3.5. Would you happen to know the average science GPA of premed students by their junior year when they apply to med schools?
  • aigiqinfaigiqinf Registered User Posts: 4,032 Senior Member
    I did get accepted to UNC Chapel Hill as well, but I'm wondering if that one would be on the easier side.

    I think that UNC makes a 2.7 the goal for the average GPA university-wide, whereas Emory has like a 3.4 average GPA at graduation.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    No, UNC's average is like just over or under a 3.2 (and even if it wasn't, I would mainly worry about the sciences where it and Emory will likely grade similarly. Southern elite institutions like to curve those no higher than B- or B), which is really solid for a very large public school with high variation in the student body. And no, the difference in SAT scores (which is not as large as you think) cannot explain the difference in MCAT scores. SAT does not stress critical thinking as much as the MCAT and does not stress science at all. The MCAT may represent a mixture of factors, but one of them is indeed how the science curriculum at the students' institution is run. There are schools w/higher entering stats. than WashU that do not average 32. Something else is there. 1360-1400 (Emory's average SAT) should mean that students perform around that range as well (and many do, but too many don't) if the science curriculum or the students' mindsets were optimal. Like most schools, we could do at least a little better in some categories.
  • esimpnoxinesimpnoxin Registered User Posts: 182 Junior Member
    When comparing the average GPAs at public and private colleges, you have to consider that most public schools have to comply with state laws requiring most of the school to be composed of in-staters, and since some schools give all in-staters within the top 10% of their graduating class an opportunity to attend, there will be a decent number of in-staters who bring the school's average down. That's why public colleges tend to have lower GPAs.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    Here are more recent UNC stats from that guy who has studied these patterns:

    University of North Carolina

    There has been quite a bit of inflation (excuse me "increase in grades as a result of better students" lol) since 2000
  • Classof2015Classof2015 Registered User Posts: 4,353 Senior Member
    bernie12 -- I have gotten a lot of good info from you about the school. You have an even handed, thoughtful approach that my daughter has not yet fully experienced from the profs in the subjects she's taken, but maybe she just hasn't latched onto the right major yet.

    I think also I compare Emory to my own LAC experience, where the profs were really interested in students' learning and were always available for office hours. D hasn't had that level of engagement in all her classes (but in some of them) and I am hopeful she will find the right level of challenge and interaction to help her learn and grow.
  • studyinglifestudyinglife Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I find Emory not rigid, but certainty rigorous. So many opportunities for pre-med. The teachers are so intelligent but are willing to spend one-on-one time with you. There are lots of course offerings in the sciences, and other disciplines too. There are so many mentors, help sessions, career counseling, research opportunities, internships, shadowing, clubs, you really have so much help here if you're on the pre-med track.
    I have no idea why your daughter's presentation was like that. Emory is best on academics more than anything else. There are great opportunities in Atlanta, but I don't go off campus much because there is so much Emory does just on-campus.
  • movinmommovinmom Registered User Posts: 421 Member
    My D had a great pre-med experience at Emory. She did not decide on med until her sophomore year and science did not come easy to her. Every science prof she had spent considerable extra time with her. She found great mentors in summer internships at the hospital and we could not be more pleased with her experience. I attended an Ivy, as did one of my other kids, and the Emory academic experience was far superior. My Ivy D could not get extra help in some pre med courses b/c the prof's office hours conflicted with a class. That said, the student does have to make the effort and reach out, attend open hours, take advantage of tutors, etc. Everything needed to succeed is right on campus.
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