What can I do?

Hello, sorry for the long post
I ’m a junior in college, I changed majors about one semester ago, so now I’m starting my second round of premed prerequisites. My overall GPA is 3.9 and my science classes are General biology/lab = A, Chemistry/lab=A, Pre-calculus= B-, Calculus 1=A. Right now, I’m taking cell bio, I’m not doing to bad but I’m not doing as well as I can because of the stress from physics. The problem is that I’m stuck in physics, I can’t drop or withdraw because of financial reasons, I already changed majors and that added more time which financial aid doesn’t cover extra years after the 4th and I’m trying to minimize the extra years. I do have a problem, I haven’t started on my ECs, I’m applying to clinical experience, to volunteer on a hospital (which I did but due to COVID, mostly told me to wait until they open applications) I’m applying to a program in my school for research over the summer, sort of want to start tutoring. I’m not really on the right path for premed yet, not enough. I’m also waiting to take the other prerequisites to take the MCAT. My problem is, I’m stuck in physics which I’m not really happy about, and I had a family issue this semester that added to the stress. I haven’t been doing so well. On homework’s I have an 82-85 because it’s not really homework, is quizzes. On lab, I’m doing ok besides the one I messed up last week because I didn’t understood it well, in the ones the professor grades I have 100. But the exams, I took the first one and failed I got a 30. I talked to a couple people and they also got under 40, while only 3 people got 80 ( the professor did has horrible reviews but he is the only one for college physics and I’m not confident in my calculus to take the general one) I have gone to office hours, multiple tutors, online videos, I spend most of my days studying. For example, last Tuesday, I did 12 hours but nothing. My next exam is next week, and I’m scared because is accumulative (since it was said that if we do better in this one, he’ll replace the other with this grade) I’m honestly afraid, most people dropped the class by now. I couldn’t and besides I still need harder classes such as orgo and chem which I’m gonna email the professor for the syllabus and start studying right after I Finish with this semester. Now,I know that is going to decrease my GPA, sGPA. If I fail the class, and retake (I know that they average both) how bad would it be? What if I manage the minimum of a C-? Also, at this point, I feel like I might have to look into a post bachelors program. What do they think about a student who started well but now got a bad grade? I didnt start with a low gpa, I started with a high which makes the situation worse. I’m so embarrassed with myself and my parents because I only study, I don’t work and people who work get straight A.

OP- take a deep breath.

Stop worrying about MCAT’s, EC’s, Post Bac. That’s taking your eye off the ball.

The ball is passing physics. If you are studying, going to office hours, multiple tutors- do you have some idea as to why this has been a struggle for you? Is it the conceptual stuff or the calculations? Reach out to one of the tutors you used- what does he/she say about where you are lacking and what’s the best way to address it??

What was your first major and why did you switch?


Totally agree with @blossom . Calc based Physics or Alg based Physics?

It’s easy to make a course harder by having the stress of having to do well. It also doesn’t help the brain at all by doing study marathons of any sort, even worse pulling all nighters.

To study the best, go back to what you are solid on - things you know. You might have to search for this because courses move quickly. Do a few examples to let your brain have the satisfaction of getting something right. Have a candy bar or some other treat to reward yourself (seriously, treats help the brain). Then move into something you sort of get, but aren’t too sure about and can get wrong. Look at it carefully and see if you can figure out the problem section (for you). Can you re-read and have it make sense? If not, look online. Don’t be afraid to go to some high school sites as they can break it down better sometimes. Don’t stress about having to get it quickly. Give your mind time to go at its pace to understand it. Any progress forward, give yourself another treat - make that into a fun joke if you want to. (I don’t suggest alcohol as a treat.)

Work at this for about an hour, then do something completely different. Go eat. Play a quick game with a friend (just make sure it’s 20 - 30 minutes or so). Believe it or not, your brain will continue processing stuff while you are doing other things, but taking a break stops you from overloading it. When you return, double check what you learned before moving on.

That’s a pattern you can keep up as long as you give yourself relaxing, different, breaks. When it comes time to sleep, go to bed. Again, your brain will continue working on things while you sleep. It’s often best solidifying things while you sleep.

Med school (or not) will work itself out. There are oodles of medical careers out there and one is likely to be right for you (could be doctor). Adding the stress of that right now is short wiring your mind. Don’t worry about it. Remind yourself that something “right” is out there for you and you’ll get there, then move on with the task at hand.

ps If you can’t figure something out by patiently working on it and looking at videos, then ask a fellow student or a good TA. Sometimes those are the best places to get help because they’ve recently learned the material themselves for the first and are more used to helping students learn it for the latter.


I reached out to multiple tutors and one of them told me to drop out of the class, the other couldn’t answer. I went to the office hours, was able to clarify somethings. I feel like sometimes I know what to do but then I blanked out.

Thank you. I did that for my biology exam, studying and taking breaks. Hopefully I did better this time. I don’t normally struggle with anything related to biology but this semester is hard for some reason.
I did went to office hours today and it helped a little. I’m just worry because if I do great, my grades will be magically fix for now. For example, if I get an 80, then everything under 80 that I got so far will become an 80. I guess that also added some stress but I got a few days. I’m gonna do what you suggested and see.
I don’t know about a TA, I don’t think there’s one for this professor.

Communication disorders, I didn’t see myself being a speech language pathologist or audiologist but I guess the concept was interest. Before, I wanted to stick with it and just take the pre requirements but then I wanted to be more prepared for the exam, and also didn’t see myself in that career pathway (if anything I would had done audiology)

Algebra. My math is not the best, that’s why I’m always suffering in classes with math but I’m trying to fix that. I’m trying to build a strong foundation of math but that’s at the same time as taking my classes because I can’t take a semester off or anything.

I have a friend who taught physics to pre-meds. He called it “saving lives, one F at a time.” (I did too, but I didn’t call it that)

Why did I say it: Partly because it’s funny, but partially because the faculty viewpoint is that part of the job of physics for pre-med to provide early negative feedback before they get to medical school. No, it’s not very nice. But it is what it us.

That said, Algebra-based physics is a lot harder than Calculus-based physics (providing, of course that you know calculus). There is a lot more memorization, and there is also a lot less facility with math among the students.

You say you have a weak math foundation. Building on that will not be helpful. You say you’re watching videos. I know of zero students who were struggling and who think the videos fixed things for them. The more common complaint "it made perfect sense in the video; I just couldn’t do it on the test.

I think your next step is a discussion with your academic advisor along the lines of “this is where I am, these are my goals, and how do I get from here to there.” He may tell you things you don’t want to hear like, “it will take another year”.

My experience is that for students with good foundations, working a lot of extra problems helps. For students with weak foundations, nothing helps.


For students with weak foundations, going back and finding out where the foundation is weak, then shoring that up first, definitely helps. It’s what needs to be done. You can’t build more learning on a weak foundation - not good learning anyway.

This is why I said to go back to what was understood first, then slowly move on - plus it’s totally ok to look at high school internet sites/help, esp for Alg based Physics.

Some kids, esp those with a teacher/professor they can’t connect with, do far better watching one they can connect with online. The key is being sure they connect. The next key is stopping the video, working out the problem themselves, then continuing the video to see if they were correct or exactly where they went wrong. If they went wrong and it wasn’t obvious (a dropped negative or something), then find other problems with an answer key online to do those until the knowledge is firm.

It’s a bit of work, but TBH, if someone is interested in med school it’s what has to be done. Good study/learning patterns will only help later on in med school.

Flashcards work well when it comes to pure memorization aspects. Only problems work well for actual application - and they need the solid foundation of knowing what one is looking for and how to get there.


OP- I just went back and noticed the B- in pre-calc. Was that an anomaly, or has math always been a stretch for you?

This could be why 12 hours of studying physics isn’t getting the job done for you-- at the end of the day, passing physics requires using the correct formula to calculate the correct answer, and having a strong foundation in functions and formulae is the key here.

What was your math trajectory like before college?

Just a hug to you- there are literally a hundred health care professions out there that do not involve going to medical school. Your path can take different twists and turns and still end up in a satisfying place.


Not to add to your stress, but I would suggest you get additional help for your written language and grammar usage. You can get help at the writing center. Most universities have an “academic help center”. They, not only have peer tutors, but they also have hired staff that can help. Plus, a number of the tutors have strong math skills and tutor in all areas, or know of friends who tutor in STEM.

If your professor doesn’t have a specific TA, then you can go to the Help Center to find a tutor who has previously taken the class.

If you plan to continue to be pre-med, you have to have the core skills in written language as well as skills in math, physics, and chemistry. That means you may have to see the tutors everyday. This is what my daughters did. Our son was also a tutor. They were good students but they were unprepared for the weed-out classes.
(One “pre-med” daughter did get into all of her 5 med schools where she applied.)

You have to be ready to seek help daily, and continue with that help to be successful in your current classes.


Explore Heath Careers

Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor. There are dozens and dozens of healthcare careers that don’t involve med school. Medicine today is a team sport and everyone on the team has an important role to play.

What if I manage the minimum of a C-?

Unfortunately, medical schools do not consider C- grades as passing and will not accept any class where you earned below a C as fulfilling admission requirements. You need to earn a C or better in your physics class or you’ll have to retake the class.

P.S. The only way to be successful in physics (or math) is to do problems, problems and more problems until you can solve them in your sleep.

And don’t take the easy way out when doing problems and look for solutions on the internet. That only undercuts your learning. DH once had a physics professor who told the class that “knowledge only comes from pain.” Meaning taking the easy way out (looking up how to solve the problem) doesn’t translate into really understanding how to solve the problem.

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I agree with that. What doesn’t help is watching videos or pestering the prof, or any of the things besides getting ones foundation straight. (And while videos could be made to work, more typically they don’t)

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“There is no royal road to mathematics”. Euclid. (around 300 BC)

This totally depends upon the person and how they learn.

As does this.

Memorizing steps is never a good solution if one wants to use the material rather than simply pass a class, but some people can innately figure it out and others do better shown the reasoning in one way or another. That’s why most people do better with teachers (either in person or online) rather than being self-taught.

One good thing in education over the decades I’ve been involved in it is we’ve learned there are multiple learning styles. Find what is best for the student and go with it.

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I agree there are a multitude of different learning styles.

(D1 was a ‘throw it at the wall and see what sticks’ type of problem solver; D2 was intuitive–she could just look at a problem and understand how to solve it. But, as her math teacher noted, her approach was never the one he expected.)

But always looking up the answer online or in a teacher’s key really doesn’t translate to understanding how to solve the problem.

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If one is merely looking up to see that the answer is 42, I agree. If one is stuck and looking up to see how 42 was obtained, then working on other similar problems to be sure the material is understood, then I disagree.

In my classes I always tried to get kids to figure out why they got something wrong, telling them they’ll learn more from their mistakes than what they got right - but only if they correct what is wrong mentally instead of just noting the answer was 42 vs 35.

Brains don’t like to make mistakes. They’ll learn from them given a chance to do so.

I always struggled with math. I did ok in high school, i actually enjoyed the algebra courses in high school and found it easier but I struggle in geometry.