First Semester Courses

I got a 5 on my Calc BC test but am still required to take a math course as a gen-ed requirement and also need statistics for most medical schools. I have the option of either taking statistics this semester or getting acclimated and just not taking it yet. If I take statistics, I will have 19 total credits (statistics (3), gen bio w/ lab (4), gen chem w/ lab (5), intermediate 1 Spanish (3), Augustinian culture seminar (3), and leadership experience (1 and pass/fail). Without statistics, it would just be 16 with the easy one-credit course. How hard is statistics in comparison to calculus? Should I take advantage of the AP credit and choose to get acclimated, considering this year is so weird, or take statistics (I also plan on minoring in bioengineering and Spanish which are 4 additional classes each)?

I would strongly suggest that you do NOT overload courses your first semester at college.

It doesn’t matter how hard or easy stats is compared to calc (totally different types of math, btw). It’s matter of time management and getting used to the workload at college.

Use your first semester to acclimate. If you transition to college just fine, then and only then consider adding additional classes.

(BTW, in an earlier thread, you mentioned you were anxious about doing well in bio and gen chem because your AP scores were less than terrific. That just reinforces the idea you should take NOT on extra coursework until you know you can manage the classes you’re already committed to.)

As a FYI, med school adcomms are not impressed by minors or majors or double minors or double majors–so if you’re adding a minor or double minor in hopes of “standing out from the crowd” of other pre-meds—don’t bother. Only add a minor if makes sense for your Plan B career option.

@WayOutWestMom I ended up going with stats just because nova has an extensive core curriculum that will take a while to complete. I’m also very good at math so I feel like I can handle stats and as for AP bio, I didn’t take the AP class so i just don’t really no much about it. I’m taking 5 because I’m minoring in Spanish for sure since I want to be able to speak to hispanic patients. I may minor in business just because because nova has such a good business program. So with that being said, I am just keeping stats because of all that I want to do. Thank you for your input though!


RE: talking to Latinx patients.

While patients may appreciate the effort of addressing them in their native language, please be aware that unless you are a certified Spanish language medical translator, you cannot take a patient history, explain a medical treatment/procedure/medication, or get a patient’s consent for care. It’s a legal requirement.

@WayOutWestMom I want to do Doctors Without Borders though that’s why I want to have background in it.

Minoring in spanish does not always translate to being able to treat patients. UT El Paso requires all their first year students to show up about 4-6 weeks early just to learn medical Spanish in order to be able to talk or understand. Doctors without borders is probably 10+ years away as a goal since you need to be board certified.

2 lab classes + two primary science classes will take up a good bit of time. 15 or 16 hours is the right load when you have that combination in the mix. I would suggest dropping one of the 3 additional classes that are considered hardest for you. Maximizing your GPA potential is the only thing that should matter in the first semester while getting acclimated to college.


RE: Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres

The lingua franca for Doctors Without Borders is French, not Spanish.

Just because you speak Spanish, there is no guarantee the MSF will send you to a Spanish-speaking country. You will be sent where the need is greatest. This could be Cameroon, Nepal, New Guinea, Beirut, or the Navajo Nation Reservation Reservation in Arizona.

Also in order to volunteer for MSF/Doctors Without Borders you first must be a board certified physician in your specialty with a minimum of 2 years of medical practice experience post residency with a strong preference for that experience to be in low resource environments.

So you’re long, long way from volunteering with MSF.

I still think that taking 19 credits your first semester of college is not a wise decision. For med school, GPA is very important. You don't want to start your pre-med journey by digging a GPA hole that will take semesters or years to get out of. 

You may or may not find statistics easy- but it is a college level course, which means there will be the same amount of work, problem sets, exams, etc as any other college course.

don’t overload freshman year. It’s going to take a bit of an adjustment to how fast the material whizzes by, plus you need to do laundry, remember to eat, and get some sleep so you can focus in class.

There’s lots more time to take statistics.

And agree that a double major in Spanish isn’t the boon you think it is for your med school career (just learn to speak Spanish. You don’t need to be writing research papers on Cervantes in order to ask patients “how are you doing today?”

“I would strongly suggest that you do NOT overload courses your first semester at college.”

I think that taking statistics is a good thing to take. If you are strong at math this should be something that you can do well. However, I would like to agree that you should NOT overload your first semester freshman year as a premed student.

Your premed classes are going to be full of very strong students. Some of your courses are going to be tough. I have heard several examples of classes where the class average on exams is in the forties in classes where all the students are strong. There will be students who get 80’s and 90’s on these same exams. You want to be one of them.

My advisor recommended taking 19 credits, he said that this was normal at Villanova so I’m stuck with it now. Thanks! @WayOutWestMom

@texaspg Unfortunately Villanova has an extensive core curriculum that is my concern. The only class I could drop is stats (Augustinian Culture Seminar and a language are required freshman year). I decided to take stats so I could get all these requirements done

People underestimate the number of hours needed for a lab class. it could be listed as one or two hours but it is 3-5 hour effort (granted it is routine cant fail type of class but the time effort is a huge drag). so your two science classes + labs = 13-14 hours.

Your advisor’s goal is trying to graduate you, not get you into medical school. ONLY YOU CAN get you into medical school and ensuring you get all As is the best route.