I'm getting cold feet for the semester

<p>I could use some advice...or maybe just some posts to help me put my coming semester into perspective.</p>

<p>I did great my freshman year in college, I'd never succeeded in high school and most of my family were ecstatic to see my results.
Needless to say I felt good at the end of the semester and opted to try a tougher major (biochemistry).</p>

<p>My schedule includes calc-based physics, genetics, organic chem, orgo lab, physics lab and a history course for gen eds. (15 credit hours)</p>

<p>Now that the semester is fast approaching, i'm very unsure about taking this schedule. I hear so many story of pre-meds who got in way over there heads and it ended up hurting their GPAs. </p>

<p>Most pre-meds have to take similar coursework at my school, however I could take an easier algebra based physics (switch out of biochem and stick with a BA in Biology). I was ready take on the tough physics class that the physics majors took, however I am not sure this schedule will allow me any free time for ECs and hanging out with friends. </p>

<p>Could anyone who has had experience with a course load like this give me some advice on how there semester went and if they would do it over again? I am willing to work very hard and I want to take all these courses but I also understand that it wouldn't be very much fun having to spend every hour outside of class in the library. =]</p>

<p>Honestly, only stick with the schedule if your completely sure you want that major, not just because it will look better than a BA in biology. Ever heard the saying "bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush", if your doing fine right now i would just stick with it. you need a good GPA, why take the risk? one more thing, why a BA? the pre reqs for med school are actually pretty close to the pre reqs for a BS, so why not go with that?</p>

<p>Major in what interests you. If you are truly interested in the material you will work hard.</p>

<p>If you were at my school, you'd get 4h for physics, 3h for genetics, 5h for orgo (w/ lab), and 3h for history, also totaling 15 hours. I have a few thoughts for you going off that makeup of hours. </p>

<p>1) If you want to stick with your biochem major, then you'll have to stick with calc-based physics. Assuming you want to leave your options open (so you could stick with biochem or switch back to biology later), this is a good way to go because chances are you'd still be able to get a bio degree even with the harder physics.</p>

<p>2) Have you ever taken 2 lab sciences at the same time? Your school might be different, but at mine, the hours spent in lab are IN ADDITION TO the hours spent in class--so a 4h physics class which includes a lab would meet 3x a week for lecture (3h), 1x a week for discussion (1h) and then approximately 3h a week for lab. That's 7h of class but only 4h of credit. Organic chemistry worked the same way: met 4x a week for lecture (4h), 1x a week for discussion (1h) and then approximately 4h a week for lab--8 or 9 hours of class but only 5h of credit. Do you know how lab classes at your school work? Is there any way you can find out how structured your lab is (ie, will formal lab write ups be required every week, or is it more of a "once you leave lab, you're done with lab" type of thing?)? If it turns out that you think 2 lab sciences in a semester will be too tough (it will require a lot of work, but I'm sure many people do it every semester), look into taking one of the labs a different semester (if it's possible to split them up.) Where I am, it's typical for students to take organic 1 (just the lecture component) in the fall, then take organic 2 (the lecture componenet) with organic 1's lab component in the spring. Will your school allow you to split them up? If so, that might be a way to lessen your load for next semester a little bit. </p>

<p>3) Since the semester's starting so soon, no reason to juggle your schedule around now. By this point, I think your best bet is to give it a week and see what you can handle. It would probably be a good idea to do some research now though. I would recommend figuring out when the last possible day to drop a class without penalty is (financial or academic). For us, it's about a week and a half after classes begin. Then, I would see if any syllabi are available online before classes start, or send an email to you future professors requesting the syllabus (profs love this--shows lots of initiative and insinuates that you'll actually read it). With the syllabi in hand, you'll be able to see how each of your classes graded assignments pan out. It might be good to make a calendar too. Now that you know how assignments/tests/papers would overlap, you can make a better judgment about which class to drop should it come down to that. If you end up deciding to drop a class, choose to drop the one which you could easily take spring semester or which isn't required for your major. If that's a little confusing, perhaps this example will help. </p>

<p>Let's say classes start August 23 and you have until September 1 to drop a class without penalty. You receive copies of your syllabi and notice that, unfortunately, all your physics tests fall on the same day as all your genetics tests. Now that you know that information, you can go to a full week of classes to determine what to do. If genetics is really easy, then it might not be a problem for them to overlap, and you can stick with it. If genetics seems like it will be hard--dull professor, book that's really hard to read, bad location, notoriously challenging tests, anything--then don't be afraid to drop it and take it again a different semester. In this example, as long as you drop before September 1, you'll get all your tuition money refunded and the class won't show up in any way on your transcript. </p>

<p>4) Is there any specific reason you're taking 15 hours? Do you need to maintain a certain number (or status as a full time student) to keep scholarships or aid? Financial aid would probably have the answer to this question if you're unsure. </p>

<p>5) Plan to meet with each of your professors within the first month of class to tell them what's going on with you. Frame it just like you framed this note--that you're thrilled you had such a wonderful freshman year and are a little apprehensive about this challenging courseload you've undertaken for this semester. Chances are your professor will be sympathetic and willing to help you out, perhaps by giving you tips or helping you understand material so you don't fall behind. Plus, knowing your professors will make it easier to ask for help later on, should you need it. </p>

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<p>Even though I don't know you, it doesn't seem like you're in over your head. On the contrary, actually--it seems like you're well aware that you're potentially getting yourself into some hot water and are looking for a way to avoid that. It's a very responsible thing to do! I just outlined what I would do if I were in your situation--how I would prepare myself and what I would do to create exit strategies. I've also found that the semesters when I'm the busiest are usually the semesters when I do the best--I don't know if it's because I'm more focused, or I manage my time better, or I'm not lazy, or all of the above--but I do know that my hardest semesters have turned out to be GPA boosters rather than bricks. It's possible! Just work hard!</p>

<p>

Actually you're right, I am on the track to get a BS in Biology.
You also brought up a really good point for sticking to the major I have done well in.</p>

<p>The issue is that I want to consider getting a PhD and doing research in something like cells, as an alternative to medicine (just in case pre-med doesn't work out). I am under the belief that a degree in biochem would help me in this case? </p>

<p>It would have been nice to have more time to decide, but I need to take this schedule to leave my options open.<br>

Thank you, that's very motivating advice. I hope I can work hard and give it my best. =]</p>

<p>kristin5792, wow!!! Thank you so much for all the fantastic advice and encouraging words. =]
You made some great points. </p>

<p>1) This was my main reason for taking these courses, leaving the option open to switch to biochem would be very nice. </p>

<p>2) I took gen chem and gen bio together. However I only needed one lab each semester since each class required only one semester of lab. So it was 2 science with 1 lab, instead to 2 science and 2 labs.</p>

<p>Physics lab is a year long, so I will be taking physics lab both semesters. However orgo lab is only 1 semester long (I'd prefer to get it over with the first semester though.)
The labs are similar to what you described.
It'll be a time commitment but my only other option is to move the orgo lab one semester later, so I will try my best with all the hours of work haha.</p>

<p>3)I did some research into dropping classes and what options I have as far as changing my schedule around. I get to register for classes a few days before I go to class and i'll have about a week after classes start to drop without it showing, so I can use those few days to get see what it might be like.</p>

<p>4) 15 hours is the standard at my school for science majors, if it gets too rough I could probably drop my history class and not fall behind or have problems with financial aid. </p>

<p>5) I am happy to know that both my organic and physics professors for these classes are highly regarded so I hope that I can rely on them if I do take this schedule on.</p>

<p>Again thank you so much for your post, I feel better just knowing others have experience with this. I can afford to drop organic lab if it gets really rough. Other than that, I'll just put my best efforts in. Though it's tough, I know a few students who managed to do the same thing and do okay so one can hope.</p>

<p>I literally took almost the exact same schedule last semester. I took Physics 2 Calc-based with lab, Genetics, Orgo 2 with lab, and a philosophy course for a total of 14 credit hours. My orgo lab only counted as one credit hour. Anyway, I did well, but it was difficult. Finals week was incredibly demanding with all of the science finals but doable. Genetics ended up being my toughest course that semester surprisingly. kristin has good advice. Give it a shot; it can be done.</p>

<p>If you might be interested in getting a Phd doing cell research, you can easily switch your major to cell and molecular biology, instead of just plain biology. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.</p>

<p>15 hours is low. However, I do not know about you, History is extremely hard class for my D. She took care of it in HS, thatnk goodness, did not have to take it in college.
The other your classes are very very hard. All of them! D. took more credits in first and second year in college. However, she made sure to have only 2 very tough classes per semester. Her strategy was a success, she has very high GPA. Remember that goal, you must end up with very high GPA. Again, I do not know your details, how busy overall you are. But if you are like all other pre-meds, then I asume that you work part time, volunteer and do research and have some non-medically related EC's also. I believe you schedule is way too tough. When I said that D. had more hours, she is Music minor and music classes have been very easy for her and very relaxing.</p>

<p>pccool52 that's awesome you were able to do it. Other than finals week, on an average day or weekend did you find you had time to balance clubs/friends?
I got a leadership position in a club for this year and I had some big plans/ideas to follow through. I also wanted to try volunteering if time allowed. </p>

<p>Thanks Colombianxx, I am glad there are other options like the cell and molecular bio major.
That sounds like the major I would want to do, but my school only offers the BS/or BA in Biology, nothing more specialized like molecular. Could that be enough to do things like biomedical research?</p>

<p>MiamiDAP, that was a really insightful post. Truth is I do have a few ECs I would like to do outside of academics and you're right about needing time to do all of it. However the way my school has set it up, I will probably need two or three science classes each semester this year. However if it gets rough, I think dropping history or orgo lab will lighten the load a bit. Best of luck to your D, it's great she has those music classes. I always wish I could do a minor in music. =]</p>

<p>zeppelin, yes, I did have time to balance EC's and friends. I did about 10 hours of research a week (a good chunk of that on weekends), was involved in a few clubs, and volunteered at my schools hospital for a couple of hours each weekend. I must admit that every now and then I had to skip volunteering because I was too busy studying for science tests. I would also miss club meetings occasionally for the same reason. As long as you keep time wasting to a minimum (TV, video games, internet, etc.) and are willing to occasionally sacrifice an EC for studying, good results can be attained both academically and socially.</p>