Bad Freshman Year at Top School

<p>I finished my freshman year at Harvard this year. I ended up with a 3.375 overall GPA and a 3.1 science&math gpa.</p>

<p>My grades:</p>

<p>1st Semester
Bio - B+
Math - A
Language - A-
English - B+</p>

<p>2nd Semester
Bio/Genetics - C+
Math - B
Language - A-
Intro Engineering - A-</p>

<p>Basically, first semester I thought I was doing well and thought it would be simple to keep a high GPA at Harvard, before I just became a slacker in second semester, stopped doing work, and basically studied everything the night before the exam, literally. Now, I've dug myself a hole.</p>

<p>Maybe I was overwhelmed, but I started to doing research second semester which took up ~10 hours/week, plus another job ~2 hours a week, and a leadership position in another organization ~2 hours a week.</p>

<p>I don't think it was the activities, but just my lack of diligence.</p>

<p>Any thoughts on this? Are my dreams of a decent medical school over? I calculated that even if I make a 4.0 in the next 2 semesters, I will barely reach 3.7.</p>

<p>Any thoughts?</p>

<p>I’m on the same boat! Was that C+ in LS1b? Same here :/</p>

<p>The good thing is that you completed one of the worst classes you can take. We have to learn from this past semester. I don’t think this necessarily mean getting 4.0 in the next semesters–that can be really hard, specially for a premed. Just do your best and make your studies your top priority. Be sure to choose really easy non-premed classes as that will boost your GPA and also give you time to work on the harder classes. </p>

<p>Aim to get a 3.6+, which I think is manageable in about 2 semesters. This will put your right on target for med school. Your dream is not over!</p>



<p>You might note that you have 4 more semesters (plus summers) until you apply to medical school, assuming you just finished your first year, and plan to apply at the standard time (which is after junior year).</p>

<p>It looks like the lower-division bio series are killers at H. But a positive thing is you have not taken many premed science classes yet, and you will be more mature when you take these classes.</p>

<p>One phenomena at a school like this is that many non-science majors, who are actually very good at taking science classes and getting good grades also, may take these lower-division science classes when they are not a freshman any more and are therefore much mature and have access to more resources to “do premed” in a “grade efficient” way. One of these strategies may be not to major in science so that they can take one premed class at a time when they are an upper-class-man. (no such choice for a science major.) But they should also be good at one other area (e.g., humanity) though. Considering the quantity and quality of ECs required to get into H, quite high percentage of these students were mult-talented before college, if their other talents happen to be somewhat academic-related. (e.g., quite a few are good at foreign languages as demonstrated by being at the national competition level, which is well beyond the AP or SAT subject test level. An AP 5 in languages could be translated into B at best at these schools, I think, unless you pour in enormous amount of efforts into it in college.)</p>

<p>You are on a right track with EC’s.
Make sure to seek help in academics if you feel it is needed. D. did even when she knew material and understood concepts, she wanted to make sure that her undertanding is correct. Your tuition covers cost of prof’s office hours as well as various other tutorial sessions (like SI), might as well use what you are paying for. In particular Genetics is very helpful to know for MCAT, while first Bio class is not. Make sure to nail another MCAT related class like physiology. It is way too early to discuss prospects of Med. School. Strive for the best GPA and MCAT score. Once you know both at the end of junior year, then you will see which schools you can apply.</p>

<p>Do summer classes affect your GPA? Assume the OP took summer classes at Boston University like a History or Economics class. When he applies to medical school, will those classes affect his GPA on his application, or will the med school only look at the Harvard transcript GPA?</p>

<p>Classes taken at all schools count. Not just the main institution you attend.</p>



<p>Thank goodness for that rampant grade inflation in Cambridge! You are extremely fortunate to attend a college that believes in ‘Gentlemen’s C’s’. Try that study habit at a top public and you would be lucky to be looking at a low C average for the semester, not just one class.</p>

Your schedule is not challenging enough, I believe that this is your underlying problem. You had only one challenging class and you got C in it. You better start catching up with more difficult classes. I have never heard of studying night before exam. Sometime, D. had to study 30 hours for each single test to insure an A in challenging class. You do what you need to do. Your work habits need to turn around 180 degrees.</p>



<p>^^Ouch, Miami. </p>

<li>Harvard’s advising office clearly states that Frosh should NOT overload on science classes for the first two years.<br></li>
<li>For what little is posted, the OP could be a hume/lit major in which case s/he has four years (8 semesters) in which to complete 10 math/science courses. Moreover, Language is required for graduation, as is English/Writing.<br>
-The standard course load at H is four. After Calc, Eng & Lang, not much other room.</li>



<p>Now, let me preface this with the facts that I didn’t go to Harvard nor do I know where MiamiDAP’s D went to undergrad.</p>

<p>I’d like to believe I’m a pretty bright student, and I did graduate with a high GPA. I cannot for the life of me remember a time that any course required 30h of studying for one exam (and I took some tough ones!), and I rarely waited until the night before to study for an exam. I bet I spent less than 30h total studying all last semester–then again, I purposely made my final semester really easy.</p>

<p>To the OP: I’ll agree with above posters that a change in attitude is necessary for you to become a better college student/premed. I don’t think that means you need to study nearly 30h for your exams though!</p>

<p>I guess Harvard isn’t so grade inflated after all!! <em>smug face</em> [/lack<em>of</em>contribution]</p>

<p>It’ll be okay
edit: You identified the problem - slacking off. Don’t do it</p>

D. went to state school. But she is habitul “A” student, she does not see herself getting anything lower. So, sometime she studied for 30 hrs just for single test. She never had as light schedule as OP, though and she always had insane number of EC’s. Her state school starts pre-meds on killer weed out first semester Bio to make sure that all who cannot study hard fall out right after first semester. And many did. But it was not the class that reguired 30 hours study/test. It was Orgo in my D’s case. She is better with conceptual classes (like Gen. Chem, BioChem were very easy), English (very fast writer), Math, than “memorization” classes. However, some people have photographic memory, so they do not need to study for 30 hrs to insure their A.</p>

<p>I usually spend 16-18 hours prepping for a single test, unless its a final. I keep up with all the required readings before a test, and then spend 16-18 hours the week before the test studying. 30 hours is wayyy too much IMO. Maybe my school is easier than the school that Miami is referring to. I have a okay gpa at my school (around a 3.8). Now if I did spend 30 hours studying for every single test, my gpa may be higher, but I would probably want to kill myself after 1 semester.</p>

<p>^You just have better memory and maybe all classes are easy for you. D. had some easy classes, but lots of others were hard. She did not spend 30 hours for every single test, she was extremely busy and some classes were very easy. It also did not mean that she was not doing something else while studying, like walking from class to class. You do what you have to do to insure results, that is her approach.</p>



<p>You point out grade inflation at top schools frequently. There is certainly grade inflation from an avg. GPA to avg. GPA comparison, but that comparison is useless because the students at each school are different. Berkeley may be a great school, but the level of competition at Berkeley really cannot be compared to that at Harvard.</p>

<p>This is most obvious through looking at Regents’ Scholarships. The average Harvard admit from CA is probably a Regents’ Scholar at Berkeley, i.e. top 800 in a school of 25,000 undergrads. I got the scholarship and I’m not an outstanding student at Yale by any means. I have close friends (plural), non-Regents’ who practiced similarly lax study techniques as the OP and got a 4.0 at Berkeley in their first year, in science and engineering, no less. They are equally as intelligent as I am, yet I had to push myself to get a 3.7.</p>

<p>Just because a school hands out more A’s doesn’t mean it’s easier to get them. You’re free to have your opinion, but you have suggested to some students that they’d be better off doing pre-med at an Ivy League school than a top public school because of grade inflation. No. Going to an Ivy for pre-med is better for many reasons, but if your goal is to get higher grades, that’s not the right decision to make. At the very least, the higher % of A’s counterbalances the increased competition, though I’m pretty sure if you stuck an average Harvard student at Berkeley, they would have little trouble.</p>

<p>Sorry for the harsh response, but I’m not in the best mood when someone erroneously assumes that I have it easier because I have so-called “grade inflation.”</p>

<p>To be fair though, when you look at schools like Brown (avg. GPA 3.6?), you do have to start to wonder. Are Brown kids really a full letter grade step smarter than Tufts kids or two grade steps smarter than UChicago kids? That sounds unlikely to me.</p>

<p>D1 attended both a top 5 public and a ‘grade inflated’ HYP. Cream of the crop at the public, middle of the pack at the private. She definitely had to work harder for her grades at the latter.</p>



<p>I have NEVER posted any such thing. (Indeed, I believe just the opposite.)</p>



<p>Huh? When did anyone single you out? When did anyone mention Yale on this thread. (The OP clearly says s/he attends Harvard.)</p>

<p>Perhaps a Yalie needs to work on his/her critical reading skills. :rolleyes:</p>

<p>deleting duplicate post.</p>