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Any advice on biology courses?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by premed3445, 05.27.10.

  1. premed3445

    premed3445

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    I'm going into my sophomore year in college as a biomedical engineering (BME) major, and was wondering what I should do in terms of picking biology courses.

    See, the problem is that I've taken AP Biology credit (8 semester hours worth), under the assumption that I can take upper division biology courses in place of them to satisfy biology requirements for medical school admissions. In retrospect, I'm probably going to be crucified by admissions committees for doing this. Why?

    Last year many admissions websites said that AP credit would be accepted provided that I take upper division biology courses. Now, many are saying that they do not accept Advanced Placement biology. (Again, I took AP credit with the intention of taking upper-division courses in place of it).

    I'm in a bit stuck here; I was intending to take 300+ level courses in General Genetics (with a lab component) and another class. The other upper-division biology classes are Cell Biology, and Developmental Biology, but I realized that those two do not have a lab component.

    The other ones I'm considering are Microbiology (which I was told by a doctor I shadowed, who was a professor at Mayo before he retired, was so 60s and 70s and I should study what is at the frontiers of modern research- and the class is a 200 level), Vertebrate Zoology (which has a lab component and is my strongest candidate now), etc. There were also Animal Physiology (with a lab component and is a 300 level class) and Human Anatomy/Physiology (with a lab component and is a 200 level class) classes, but because I'm taking a Physiology for Engineers class (first semester sophomore year) I think taking either of those would be redundant.

    I was wondering if anybody had any advice, if I should cancel my AP credit and retake General Biology (and risk not being able to take upper division courses- because I have to take mostly BME and engineering-related courses later on), or go ahead and take upper-division courses. As well as what I should take as my second upper-division course.
    Last edited: 05.27.10
  2. LuciusVorenus

    LuciusVorenus Primus Pilus, Legio XIII Gemina

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    What exactly is lower division biology at your school?

    I'm BME too and at our school they have a "premed" track set up. It goes Genetics, Biochemistry, Cell Biology for "lower" division (we don't actually have lower division at our school...just "core" or something) then for upper division we take Developmental Biology, Experimental Biology Lab, Molecular Biology+Lab, then either Physiology+Lab or Advanced Biochemistry+Lab. By the way, those are quarter long classes.
  3. radiodoc99

    radiodoc99

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    Taking BME and higher level courses would be beneficial in the long run. However, try to keep your GPA as high as possible. Sometimes engineering courses have a different curve?
  4. premed3445

    premed3445

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    Hi LuciusVorenus,

    Lower division at my school are 100 to 200 level classes. Upper division is 300+ level. My class is based on the semester system; there was a premed track for my bioengineering (referred to as BME here and pretty much synonymous) major, but I chose not to go on it as it's not ABET-accredited (and was different by only one class).

    I was originally required to take General Biology I and General Biology II, which are lower division classes, as a requirement for my major. The course description for General Biology I was "Biological concepts emphasizing principles and the interplay of structure and function at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels," and the description for General Biology II was "Biological concepts emphasizing principles and the interplay of structure and function at the organismal, population, and community levels."

    I don't know if that helps or not.
  5. premed3445

    premed3445

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    Hi Radiodoc99,

    Correct; I have every intention of keeping my GPA as high as possible. My goal is to maintain at least a 3.85+ (ideally 3.9+), both overall and in Science GPA.

    I'm just wondering if I should cancel my AP credit and retake General Biology, because some medical schools say they do not take AP credit, but didn't mention that higher level courses can be taken to make up for that. If not, I'm wondering what course, asides from General Genetics, I should take for upper-level biology.
  6. Van Chowder

    Van Chowder Go big or go home.

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    I effing cant stand the biology courses at my school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  7. tremulousNeedle

    tremulousNeedle

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    The usefulness of undergraduate biology courses is solely dependent on what you do with it. If you think you'll forget a lot of what you learn, then it doesn't really matter what you take as long as you do well (though some med schools like to see genetics, cell biology, microbiology, etc).

    One path is to take undergraduate classes that are similar to med school classes, so when you get to med school the info they throw at you isn't new. I definitely performed better / studying was easier in courses where I had some undergrad exposure. The typical med school science curriculum consists of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, embryology, neurobiology, cell & tissue biology, pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology.

    There were some other random science courses that I enjoyed; Parasitology and Endocrinology. These courses were much more in depth than the overview given in medical school; there are still things I remember from the Parasitology course (6 or 7 years ago) that I have never learned in my medical education / training.

    As everyone else has said, keep the GPA up.
  8. Penner

    Penner

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    No one so far has really answered any of the OP's questions.

    I think you should keep the AP credit and take general genetics + cell or developmental biology. I don't think they care about the lab component all that much if you have AP credit.

    There is no school that won't allow you to take upper division biology courses in lieu of general bio.
  9. fizzgig

    fizzgig LudicrousSpeed!

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    i'm not sure about your situation. i also had 1bio+lab in college and AP credit, but i think it may depend on what your school gives for that score. my school still only gives bio100 (non majors bio) for an AP 5 score, so since i didn't get CREDIT at my school for a science major general bio+lab, i am not sure i'm in the clear, even though i have a couple of graduate courses in bio areas :(

    if i'm being overly paranoid then med schools are being overly rigid with what they post on their sites and will let things slide, but it makes me nervous to make assumptions...

    my understanding is that if you're being cautious, make sure your school is giving you degree and major credit for a general bio+lab course for your AP score. then talk to your premed advisor and/or check with a few med schools directly... if you have the AP credit AND your upper levels (at least 2 of them) have labs, then for some reason i think from what i read that it would be better.

    i just don't know how closely schools stick with what they post on their websites - i'm like you, from what i've been reading it is sounding like i'm going back and having to take another bio+lab course just to make damn sure that THIS isn't the reason i get screened out...
  10. premed3445

    premed3445

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    That was my line of thinking. I was inclined to take General Genetics (4 semester hours) and Cell Biology (3 semester hours). And in my personal opinion (not admission committees, though), it wouldn't make logical sense to dispose of my AP credits and be forced to take general biology again in lieu of higher-level, more in-depth courses.

    I'm still worried though so it might not hurt to contact a few admissions offices. I'm a little leery of pre-med advisors, because although they do help a lot, it's not good to be completely dependent on them for information- I have to do some research myself.
  11. premed3445

    premed3445

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    I feel you, I had gotten a 5 on the test which allowed me to get BIO 187 and 188 (General Biology I and II) credit. It does count as a major and degree credit. If I had gotten a 3 then I would've gotten BIO100, which is a non-major biology.

    I'm just hoping admissions offices aren't that rigid on the AP Biology thing and saying, "Okay, you've taken upper-division, in-depth courses with labs, and you have AP credit for a year of general biology, BUT you haven't taken general biology again," and promptly throw my application into the shredder.

    For example, one of USC's (University of Southern California) requirements is 30 SEMESTER HOURS of social sciences, humanities and English classes, which is really difficult to do while pursuing an engineering degree. I read a thread somewhere about somebody with concerns about that, and he found out that USC accepts engineering credit as part of those 30 hours- which for me combined with my humanities and English classes would be much more than 30.
  12. LuciusVorenus

    LuciusVorenus Primus Pilus, Legio XIII Gemina

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    That's the same reason I didn't do it either :laugh:. But yeah, I think you'll be fine just taking the same number of credits in upper division as a substitution for lower division. I've heard they tend to be a lot more lenient with the lower division bio stuff because it's so different across campuses. Like I said, our school (UCI) has no lower division really (just some kind of mid-level series) and has only upper division bio labs, and I've yet to hear of anyone who had any problems with that while applying, at least to the more well known schools.

    Yeah I saw that too. It's such an obscene requirement. It's basically saying that whatever number of units you spend on satisfying our premed courses, spend that same amount on general ed. I hope you're right and BME classes do count towards that because as it stands right now my major doesn't count as either science or general ed so I've killed myself (summer school=$$$) trying to fit all those premed/general ed classes in.
  13. fizzgig

    fizzgig LudicrousSpeed!

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    since you got degree credit for 2 bio classes that were lab classes and took/gonna take upper level bio classes, i bet you're more likely to be ok. i'd still dig a little for fine print and ask around, but whether you took the classes or got AP credit for them, my understanding is that AMCAS doesn't care what you got on the AP exam, only what credits for what classes your university doled out. you got credit, and you'll have grades from upper level classes too to prove that you know the material AND could do it at your university's level for an A. hopefully it works out for you!
  14. premed3445

    premed3445

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    I would agree. I'm probably going to have to contact my school's pre-med office and the school's admission offices themselves just to be sure... so many schools... :p Best to send e-mails instead of having to make probably 30 phone calls.

    As for the USC humanities/social sciences requirements, here's the link to a thread two years ago. Should help, but I'm going to e-mail USC directly just to be sure.
    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=552094
  15. premed3445

    premed3445

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    Thanks :) . I concur... probably best to contact the schools just to be sure on the labs classes (for General Biology) though, but that's going to be a lot of e-mails :smuggrin: . I've got plenty of time to find out.

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