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MCB for premed?

blueduckyblueducky 1625 replies80 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,705 Senior Member
I know this topic generally leads to the conclusions that it doesn't matter what you major in and that you should major in something you like, etc, but I have some concerns.

Okay, right now, I am a chembio freshman, but I am sure I will be switching into L&S come spring. I have realized that while CoC is great (especially for research/chem grad school, both of which I am not too interested in), I think it is only good IF I can maintain a 3.7+ GPA along with good EC's, and right now, I think that is impossible at worst and improbable at best. (B in Chem 4A, A- in Physics 7A, A- in Math1B, B+ in 3-unit AC class for first semester; 3.43 overall, 3.47 science).

Anyway, my questions:

1) Why are so many premeds MCB? Everyone knows that you need a good GPA and while the lower divs fulfill premed req's, upper divs are still hard on your GPA.

2) Am I wrong to think that being a psych major is bad? It's not that I'm looking down on psychology, it's just the general trend on the career website shows that only 10% go on to graduate school, and of those, none go on to medical school. For MCB (I understand that there are a lot of them to begin with), there are simply more MD's. This sounds stupid but in my mind, this offers a bit of reassurance. The same goes for public health... why don't a lot of them go to medical school? Are they just more likely to take a year off first or something?

3) In case medical school doesn't work out, what is more versatile, MCB or psychology?

4) Based on my performance so far, should I abandon premed right now? I get these feelings that maybe I am not cut out for it after all, and that it's better to cut losses short early on.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
edited December 2009
22 replies
Post edited by blueducky on
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Replies to: MCB for premed?

  • MechRocketMechRocket 1759 replies216 discussions- Posts: 1,975 Senior Member
    i think a lot of ppl are mcb for premed because it's the most "direct". all of the mcb lower-div requirements happent to be the pre-med requirements, so you don't have to spend time taking extra classes.
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3539 replies264 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,803 Senior Member
    ^along with the fact that many of them are brainwashed into thinking it helps for medical school admissions. I have many friends that were in that boat, many of them I set straight and most of them fled MCB.
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  • stlystly 606 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 618 Member
    a lot of upper div mcb classes prepare you for med school, such as physiology and immunology.

    but i would agree with leftist that many people come into berkeley thinking that they need to major in MCB for med school. i only recommend this if you're willing to work hard for all your grades b/c if you don't, it'll kill your gpa. the upper divs are harder than the lower divs.
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3539 replies264 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,803 Senior Member
    a lot of upper div mcb classes prepare you for med school, such as physiology and immunology.
    MCB offers one upper division physiology class. If you are interested in physiology, you should NOT be looking at MCB (especially not CDB: Physio). The former Department of Anatomy and Physiology merged into Integrative Biology back when they reorganized the biology departments in the mid-90's

    MCB also only offers one upper division immunology course (MCB 150/L).

    Seeking medical school preparation in immunology or physiology are appropriate reasons for majoring in MCB as a premed. If you are interested in either or both MCB is still not worth majoring in.
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  • blueduckyblueducky 1625 replies80 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,705 Senior Member
    Since I really have no idea, I have nothing else than grade distributions to base my next statements off of -- it seems like out of the 6 upper-div MCB courses required for the major, only about half (like MCB 102, other required ones) have B- averages, and the rest, can't you just pick ones that give out slightly more A's?

    Anyway, answers to my other questions are not unwelcome either.
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3539 replies264 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,803 Senior Member
    You will be working your ass of for those few A's. Also MCB doesn't give much flexibility, and what is the point of cherry-picking already difficult courses for courses that you might not even really like.
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  • MechRocketMechRocket 1759 replies216 discussions- Posts: 1,975 Senior Member
    you know, i actually looked up the grade distributions for upper-div MCB courses and they're pretty much the same as the lower-divs - about 25% A's. so i mean, if you did well in the lower-divs then the upper-divs shouldn't be much tougher.
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3539 replies264 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,803 Senior Member
    ^Except in most other major getting As in your upper division course work is much easier and would mean that you can slow down and have a less hectic of a workload
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  • t0m04k1t0m04k1 87 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    I think grade distributions can sometimes be very misleading because it only shows you the numbers. For instance when we compare the grade distributions of Math 1A vs Math 16A, Math 1A has a better distribution (an average grade of "B" over the "B-" in 16A), but most of us know that the material covered in 1A is definitely more difficult. I think in the same way, MCB upper divs may have similar grade distributions, but they do not necessarily reflect how hard a class is. Plus the competition gets tougher when most of the people who did not do well in previous classes move to a different major.

    Anyways, I think it's a good idea to keep your options open. MCB is definitely not the only choice as a premed at Berkeley. At least for medical schools, they do not care whether you are a bio major or a psych major, so my advice for you is to major in what you are interested in.
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  • stlystly 606 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 618 Member
    If you want a direct route for med school, there are 3 that overlaps with premed requirements: ib, mcb, and public health. PH is good if you're interested in the social aspect of it such as epidemiology, health management, etc. I recommend this if you're interested in being a physician. IB is good if you're interested in the bigger picture of biology - not the molecular/cell stuff. MCB is good if you're interested in how things work - on the smallest levels. This one is good if you're interested in doing MD/PhD.

    As for psychology, there are a lot of premeds in psych, but I cannot explain why fewer numbers report going to med school (keep in mind career center data is for small number of graduates). A lot of students take a year off from all majors and that may be a reason. I don't know which is more versatile - if you don't end up going to med school, MCB isn't that great of a degree, it'll land you in research as an associate or technician - think about whether this is what you want to spend your life doing. With a psych degree, you could go into a variety of fields.

    I do not think you should abandon premed right now. You took the most challenging courses for the basic science requirements. But those grades won't be erased from your record and will count for your GPA when applying to med school. Unless you know you can make mostly A's from this point on, it will be very challenging.

    I've completed all the lower divs for MCB and two upper div MCB courses and have found that the lower divs were easy (with the exception of chem 3a w/ frechet) because you needed to beat the curve and there were lots of people there who didn't really care. When you get to the upper divs, all the students there are pretty smart and the material is much more in depth and difficult to grasp. Also, the classes are much smaller so it's harder to predict how you're doing in the course and what you need to get an A.
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  • blueduckyblueducky 1625 replies80 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,705 Senior Member
    The whole problem with "majoring what you are interested in" is that I still feel like I'm not completely sure yet. There are aspects of all subjects that I find interesting. I am interested in MCB's neuroscience track but i find psychology interesting too, they overlap. And there is this thought in my mind that somehow a psych major just isn't as substantial as a pure science major. Not in the eyes of med school admissions officer, but just in general.

    @stly, thanks, and the same problem goes for IB, PH, etc. It's hard to pick. Yes, in hindsight, it was dumb of me to take harder versions of basic science requirements as a premed.

    What makes chem 3a stand out from the rest of the prereq's?
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  • stlystly 606 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 618 Member
    Yes the psych major isn't as substantial as MCB, but if being a psych major gets you into med school then it doesn't really matter.

    It's really hard to find a major that is interesting when you're in freshman year because you don't know what you like yet, what you're good at yet, etc. Take all the classes you need for both psych and MCB and decide later on, since you still have a bit of time.
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3539 replies264 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,803 Senior Member
    Also don't forget about the CNR biology majors. They are worth looking at.

    Psychology is one of those subjects that lies at the convergence of social and biological sciences
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  • sn0angel07sn0angel07 258 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    Hello, I'm a psych major, and a premed - so hopefully, I can answer some of your questions. By the way, I'm in the process of deciding to double major in MCB too, but that's still uncertain. Ok, the answers as numbered:
    1) I think many are MCB purely because "all the other premeds are MCB". I don't know, maybe they think it'll give them a competitive edge in the app, but a low GPA looks worse.
    2) No, I think it's more the case that psych majors enter a diverse number of fields, and most don't necessarily commit themselves to either grad school or med school, and figure this out in the process. I think for MCB, this is almost reversible - where most students have already decided to be premed, and then enter MCB to complete all the premed required and recommended classes.
    3) In terms of which is more versatile, I think either would open opportunities for you, and it's really up to you how to apply what you got from the major. If you're interested in psychology, then the major would be useful if you're looking into continue into research-related fields.
    4) If it's your dream to enter medicine, then it's too early for you to give up. Seriously, you still have three years in front of you, there's still time for you to fix your GPA and build your other parts of the application. Upward trend in GPA matters a lot when med schools look at transcripts. Plus, many applicants have less stellar GPA's and still get accepted to atleast one med school. (You're not alone if you're feeling like this though, I have the same thoughts sometimes, but just don't give up!)
    Good luck deciding - but in my view, if your goal is to bring up your GPA, psychology would be the best choice.. it's easier to manage upper div psych courses with the premed requirements and still get A's.. I'm not sure if it's the same case with MCB, but just take a course or two and find out if that's what interests you.
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  • sn0angel07sn0angel07 258 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    Oh, and I just read your post about your interest in neuroscience. I love neuro too, and psych actually offers some of these classes. I'd recommend:
    Psych 110: biological psychology, Psych 117: Human Neuropsychology, and Psych 127: Cognitive Neuroscience.
    I'm thinking of taking MCB 160 and MCB 165 too though, neurobio would be useful anywhere.
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