Ask a Pre-Health MCB/IB 3rd Year Anything

<p>Hey Everyone,</p>

<p>As a former CC junkie and facilitator of a new decal on campus (Pre-Health DeCal), I thought I'd come back to the site and help a few kids out during the turmoil before school starts. Ask me anything and I will respond as best as I can. </p>

<p>A bit of info about myself, I am a rising premed/pre-opto 3rd year and was MCB until I decided to switch to IB last semester. I am very thorough in premed prereqs as well as familiar with the pre-opto ones, and I also have been doing immunology research on campus, volunteering with a peer support group, been dancing on campus for fun, working at the Berkeley School of Optometry (#1 in the nation!), and be facilitating two decals in the fall. </p>

<p>For those who are coming in, I lived in Freeborn the substance-free hall in Unit 1. I have been exposed to the WONDERFUL (cough) dining hall of Crossroads many times. I've rushed for the premed/prehealth frats and sororities before only to drop out of rush b/c of the heavy perceived time commitment that I don't think I had for them.</p>

<p>For my time, I'd just want to let you know that there's a new decal starting up that will give you guys good info about the prereqs of applying to med, opto, pharm, nursing, dentistry, and physician's assistant fields as well as how to get good health-related extracurricular experiences at Cal (research, volunteering, letters of rec, etc). I'll be starting another thread about that, but please know it is listed as the "Pre-Health DeCal" as MCB 98/198 and CCNs are Lower Div CCN: 57880 // Upper Div CCN: 59125. Shameless plug, I know, but hopefully it will spread word to students who don't know about the program yet.</p>

<p>Please ask away!</p>

<p>how are the pre-med classes at cal? do you have any tips on how to do well?</p>

<p>Do you have any advice on Chem 3B? I am a little apprehensive about this course especially in the fall. Did you do well in the course? If so, do you have good tips on how to succeed in Vollhardt's class? Thanks!</p>

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how are the pre-med classes at cal?do you have any tips on how to do well?

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The classes are not much harder than the ones in high school. The only thing you have to watch out for is the pace. To do well just put in as much effort as you did in high school.

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Do you have any advice on Chem 3B?

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Vollhardt is an author, not a teacher who prides on NMR. If you want to succeed, understand NMR and don't be afraid to memorize.</p>

<p>There's no more NMR in 3B. They moved it to 3BL. That being said, NMR is still on weekly lab reports and the lab final, but it really isn't so bad. </p>

<p>I think the key to success in 3B is slc study groups. There's a ****load of reactions to know that study group helps to keep track of. Beyond that, concepts are straightforward, tests even moreso. Study hard for your first midterm thats the easiest, get all the points you can then itself. Second midterm is slightly more hard than the first, but its still manageable. Good luck.</p>

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The classes are not much harder than the ones in high school.

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</p>

<p>That would depend on the quality of your high school, but I think in general this is not a true statement. Pre-med classes are tough, be prepared to work.</p>

<p>Have you taken MCB 32? How does the different professors teaching different parts of the class work in terms of the semester/grade and do you happen to remember what textbook was used?</p>

<p>Could you please elaborate on why you chose not to join the premed fraternity on campus, how intensive is the time requirement, and what benefits do they offer?</p>

<p>Thanks for your help!</p>

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There's no more NMR in 3B

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Teary eye...
I remembered when NMR made up 35% of the exam. You guys have it easy...</p>

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how are the pre-med classes at cal?do you have any tips on how to do well?

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</p>

<p>That's a really generic question -- there's always techniques to studying for a certain type of premed class. For instance, if you're taking an ochem class, practice questions are a MUST. Flashcards (or whatever memorization techniques you use) are absolutely essential. You will see when you take Chem 3A/3B that if you don't know your stuff, you will be lost during the midterms. Get them down, don't leave them till last minute, and practice, practice, practice.</p>

<p>For other classes like bio, memorization (well, ok maybe not Bio 1AL) is not as intense. Your understanding of the material matters so much more. It's in these cases that going to professor's office hours, going to SLC (our tutoring center on campus), and going to lecture (or watching the webcast for it later as I did .. or both!) matter so much more. </p>

<p>For now, I think you should be concerned with Chem 1A, Math 1A/16B, and whatever other classes you are taking. You will be overwhelmed with the number of people in both classes (people sitting in stairwells for the first few days), but I highly recommend using SLC's study groups for Chem 1A (overview of material as well as practice questions) and signing up for the easier prof for Math 1A (as getting the right professor definitely made my midterms a LOT easier). </p>

<p>Good luck and reply if you have any more Qs!</p>

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Do you have any advice on Chem 3B? I am a little apprehensive about this course especially in the fall. Did you do well in the course? If so, do you have good tips on how to succeed in Vollhardt's class? Thanks!

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</p>

<p>Eh, ochem wasn't my cup of tea. Though opposed to the good half of the pre-health decal team (the 12 of us) who really loved ochem (one got an A+ in Chem 3A or 3B [I forgot which one] and is now a tutor at SLC), I didn't quite like it as much. Memorizing and THEN using the stuff we learned for mechs and arrow pushing was just ridiculous and I'm sure you remember from Chem 3A how all the problems go. </p>

<p>For Vollhardt, he goes straight from his book. He obviously knows his stuff and he obviously knows where his stuff is in the book. The practice questions within the texts are a good place to start since, well, he wrote the book and knows it through and through. Some of the Q's in the text are tricky for sure, but I think it'll give you good practice as to where he could put some of the "tricks" on his test. I went to Vollhardt's lectures to listen, but something I would have changed was that I should have previewed the slides before I went to lecture. The lectures were just so much information and I think seeing the reactions for the first time while he's lecturing really just gets overwhelming. I was more concerned about copying the mech or reaction down rather than learning what really was going on as he was lecturing. I realized later in the semester that after I saw the lectures in the textbook or on his slides, I became less panicked about seeing a weird amine placement and was more about learning the material. It made going to lectures much more worth it too.</p>

<p>And as anybody will tell you, practice, practice, practice and don't give up. It's so easy to give up in ochem when you don't like it as much as others do, but once you lose faith in your knowledge of ochem you lose so much more in terms your grade you'll eventually get in the end. Use this summer as a good break from ochem and prepare yourself for another semester as you had last for Chem 3A. Don't start off sprinting, but develop a good plan for studying and stick with it. </p>

<p>Hope that helps!</p>

<p>Thanks so much! That is definitely helpful! Oh another question: how do you balance your extracurriculars with your classes? Do most Berkeley pre-meds have that many extracurriculars?</p>

<p>Thanks for the response! I have additional questions about getting a research position. Do you have advice on how to easily get a good research position? Where should I look besides URAP? What methods should I employ besides sending emails to different professors? How did you get your position?</p>

<p>Oh another question: What is considered a low gpa for med school? How about for optometry? How much does GPA matter compare to MCAT scores and extracurriculars? I heard GPA is most important</p>

<p>Trackisfun: MCB 32 is really easy. There are 3 midterms and 1 final, all of which are weighted the same. Also, you can drop one of the tests, so if you did well on the 3 midterms, you can basically skip the final. I took it when Machen, Helen, and Wurmser taught it. Machen was confusing as hell, but his midterm was straightforward. Wurmser basically gives out the questions to his part of midterm on the practice midterm. Helen was the only lecturer that was tough, but if you go to her lectures (and you should... she writes A LOT of stuff down on the board), and study off those notes, it should be fine.</p>

<p>stevenboi27: There are a lot of ways to get research besides URAP. If you are in CNR, use SPUR (the CNR equivalent of URAP). Basically it is a compilation of CNR faculty postings for research assistants specifically in CNR. I have heard of people straight up asking their professors whether they have space or not in their labs and getting in through that route. CHORI and LBNL are also other places that provide lots of research positions for Cal students. I got my last position by emailing professors and LBNL PI's about space in their lab. If you email, be sure to read up on their lab interests and be prepared to answer why you are interested in being part of their lab.</p>

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Have you taken MCB 32? How does the different professors teaching different parts of the class work in terms of the semester/grade and do you happen to remember what textbook was used?</p>

<p>Could you please elaborate on why you chose not to join the premed fraternity on campus, how intensive is the time requirement, and what benefits do they offer?

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</p>

<p>hrcow gave pretty much what you need to know about MCB 32. I personally haven't taken MCB 32, but I hear that Helen was definitely the GSI to watch for in MCB 32 (as well as the GSI to watch for during Bio 1AL for SURE) in terms of difficulty of materials.</p>

<p>I have nothing against any of the pre-med sororities/fraternities on campus. If anything, I am a proponent of joining them if you want an interesting experience as a premed on campus. However, the thing that really bugged me about pledging (as with any social or professional fraternity on campus) is that the time commitments are intense. From what I've been hearing from my friends from both PhiDE, SMD, and KGD, the main commitments are around 8-10 hours a week, but you also have social commitments which add a lot of hours -- maybe even 5-10 more hours depending on which part of rush you're in. That's 20 hours of my time I would have spent in a fraternity. And even though this is likely essential for brotherhood/sisterhood (which I understand because the more time you spend with people, the closer you get to them), it was time that I would have preferred to spend on multiple activities that I found were interesting on campus. </p>

<p>Otherwise, I would not let what I've said deter you from a rush. Go research for the fraternities I've named and pick one you feel you maybe could feel more comfortable being in. Learn what they have to offer, as the actives would know much better than me what they have to offer to you. You can even rush for two at the same time, as a friend of mine did, and see if any offer you bids.</p>

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Thanks for the response! I have additional questions about getting a research position. Do you have advice on how to easily get a good research position? Where should I look besides URAP? What methods should I employ besides sending emails to different professors? How did you get your position?

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</p>

<p>There are many, many, many ways you can get research at Berkeley. Many freshmen come into Berkeley thinking that URAP is the only way to get adequate research, but if you ask many of the upperclassmen on campus, I will bet you that was probably not the case for how they got their research.</p>

<p>If anything, one of the pre-health facilitators as well as I think that emailing IS the best way to go for many research opportunities. From mailing professors, GSI's, research institutions, department advisors, and even upperclassmen who are already in lab, these are ALL ways that my friends and I got research in our own labs. Networking is almost essential when it comes to emails, so start early and ask around. Don't expect a response immediately as it takes many tries to get research sometimes, but eventually I would think one of these networking ties will get you somewhere and hopefully it will get you the info you need to get research.</p>

<p>Other ways you could go about it is by looking on the work-study site or, if you don't have work study, to look on Callisto (job listing site for UCB students/alumni) for research. My roommate and I started off as lab assistants in labs from work study positions, and then requested to do research shortly after entering those labs. My other friend found a part time job off Callisto and is currently working at LBNL. </p>

<p>Hopefully this gives you enough info to start looking!</p>

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Thanks so much! That is definitely helpful! Oh another question: how do you balance your extracurriculars with your classes? Do most Berkeley pre-meds have that many extracurriculars?

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</p>

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Oh another question: What is considered a low gpa for med school? How about for optometry? How much does GPA matter compare to MCAT scores and extracurriculars? I heard GPA is most important

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</p>

<p>Most Berkeley students definitely get into extracurriculars (EC's) pretty early into getting. Just as you balanced your high school EC's, you do the same here. It's not much of a feat, but one thing many freshmen do entering Cal is assume too MANY activities in the first semester. Be sure not to overload yourself, especially in the first semester as getting used to Cal academic life is hard for many people. Sometimes students forget that there's a limit to the workload they can do at Cal.</p>

<p>Asking for what anyone would consider as a low GPA is quite ambiguous. It really depends on what schools you're intending on applying to. For UC's or to maintain a competitive GPA for any of the top tier schools, 3.7 minimum. To be at a good pace where most applicants are, I would say 3.5. The lower end where you should start being concerned about your grades is 3.3. And if you are at a 3.0, a lot of people would definitely be worried for you and suggest either a DO school or go to the Carribeans (both of which have their pros and cons). GPA is definitely first and foremost, but MCAT is just as important also. Extracurriculars, as my friend said, is just icing on the cake -- but necessary icing when you apply to med school. </p>

<p>For optometry, I'd say 3.5 is a safe GPA to be at. Berkeley School of Opto has an average matriculation GPA of around 3.5, but low end for opto again would probably be a 3.3 ish maybe even 3.0. Not quite sure about that.</p>

<p>Thanks alot! Sorry for the vague questions but you answered them very well. I hope there are nice advisers like you on campus. I really hope I can be as successful as you when I am a 3rd year. :) You seem to have everything from grades to EC's.</p>

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Thanks alot! Sorry for the vague questions but you answered them very well. I hope there are nice advisers like you on campus. I really hope I can be as successful as you when I am a 3rd year. You seem to have everything from grades to EC's.

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</p>

<p>Wow haha I'm not THAT great. But I'm glad my answers have been able to help you. You can email prehealthdecal@ gmail. com(even if you aren't in the decal) if you ever have more questions about Cal.</p>

<p>hey prehealthdecal,</p>

<p>you mentioned you got your research by starting out as a paid lab assistant. Did you continue to get paid when you were doing your own research, or did the payment stop?</p>