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Course Rigor (when applying to top tier med schools)

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by AirplaneFruit, 08.23.12.

  1. AirplaneFruit

    AirplaneFruit

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    Could not find similar threads but maybe I'm just bad at searching so please point me to them...

    Anyways, I have several choices in classes for completion of both my major requirements and pre-med requirements.

    Math 101 vs. Math 103
    Physics 101 vs. 103
    Organic Chem 301 vs. 303

    Will elite med schools consider course rigor? I'm at a very competitive school with difficult curves so I'm worried about taking courses that will negatively impact my GPA but also don't want to appear like a GPA whore who took the easy way out...

    I finished multivariable in junior year in the upper-middle (grade percentage) of my class. Got a 5 in AP Chem but that was in Sophomore year.
  2. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    Do NOT take organic chem as a freshman. Take General Chemistry even if you have AP credit. I am not kidding. Every year I see applicants who had a terrible freshman year due to organic. It is the worst thing a freshman can do for a gpa.

    There are some undergrad schools that will provide a "cheat sheet" along with the committee letter spelling out which courses are hard & which are harder so that adcoms know. Some pre-med committees (or pre-med advisors) will point out the difficult classes in a letter of recommendation ("while most pre-med students take Physics 101, AirplaneFruit challenged himself with Physics 103 and did exceptionally well") and some of us who review many applications from some schools, begin to recognize the more challenging classes (I'm thinking of one school that has a biology of reproduction class that is brutal).
  3. zwander

    zwander

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    I think it depends on the type of person you are. I've known a few people who even took upper division Chem/Bio courses like biophysical chemistry their freshman year, along with organic chemistry (and they actually graduated HS a year older). But these are the people who are a cut even above the average diligent and hard working premed.
  4. Narmerguy

    Narmerguy SDN Senior Moderator

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    :eek: Literally a few threads below yours:

    "GPA easy vs Hard classes"
    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=943443
  5. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    You could just play it safe and take the recommended pre-reqs that your pre-med adviser advocates.
  6. TxResident

    TxResident

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    As a side note, it also helps in mentioning what these classes are. We can't really know what these classes are (for all we know it could be college algebra or calculus that you're planning to take) without their course names.
  7. AirplaneFruit

    AirplaneFruit

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    thanks for your help guys. Apparently math 101 is for people without even a precalc background so I guess I'm taking math 103. However, for Physics 101 v. 103 it says 101 requires less mathematical preparation.

    And I will probably take Ochem sophomore year but even then, for such an important pre-med class, would it be worth taking the lower level?
  8. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in...

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    You need to speak with an upperclassmen and a professor that is wisened up to the premedical route at your school instead of asking us. We are not going to really be of much help on specifics.
  9. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    Talk to upperclassmen and check out "ratemyprofessor.com". You need to take RMP with a grain of salt because it tends to be at the extremes (love/hate) but the workload and professor's attitude are generally accurate based on my own kid's experience in the past few years.
  10. Bangersandmash

    Bangersandmash

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    How are we supposed to know the differences in your orgo classes? Hell, my school only has one kind of intro organic chemistry, not two.

    As for physics, taking physics with calc will be more challenging and some schools may like to see it, but it really isn't necessary for med schools or the MCAT. If you're good at math and physics, take calc based. If not, do algebra based.
  11. kpcrew

    kpcrew Removed

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    If I saw Chem 103, I would be so much more impressed than if I saw Chem 101.
  12. 487806

    487806 Life of the Party!

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    I agree with you, but I have this doubt. If a student did take organic chemistry (even though he/she wasn't supposed to) and got an A, would he/she be in an advantage or a disadvantage? I still wouldn't recommend taking organic chem in freshman year though, but it's just a doubt I wanted to clarify.
  13. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in...

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    Although it's frowned upon, I would take OChem the summer before sophomore year before I would take it Freshman year. Even if you got an A freshman year in OChem, you are probably much more likely to burn out starting your college career on such a high note.
  14. pfaction

    pfaction

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    Am I the only one that handled OChem with ease? Or was my teacher a pushover?
  15. TxResident

    TxResident

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    In regards to physics, I know at my uni there is no real major difference between the non-Calc based and Calc-based physics, so I'd go ahead and take the higher level one :).
  16. Graywolf

    Graywolf

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    Agreed. I took Ochem I and II as a sophomore and honestly, it was the class I looked forward to. I still don't understand how some kids discuss their dreadful Ochem course. My class was normal, with an average bell curve. I was at the very top of the curve with a solid 100%.

    My intention is not to brag, but if Ochem was your most challenging course, I think you should step it up. Biophysical chemistry was tough. But every harder was Organometallic and Homogeneous Catalysis. Push yourself! I think rigor is the first academic factor adcoms should look at.

    Two options: Take just the pre-requisites for medical school (which are not tough) and end with a 4.0 OR take very rigorous courses and maybe a graduate course or two, and end with a 3.5.

    I took the ladder route with 80/130 credits in science, about 60 of those credits were 300-400 lvl chem/bio courses and I hope it pays off. At the very least, my medical school transition will be much easier.
  17. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in...

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    The former would have paid off more.

    I wish you the best. The transition will, of course, be easier. But that's assuming you get a shot at it. Yeah, admissions requirements are stupid regarding GPA.
  18. Wrestler

    Wrestler

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    What if you have better things to do than taking rigorous, time sink courses?
  19. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    For every freshman who took Organic chemistry and got As, I see a dozen who got B+s or worse. It is just not worth the risk as coming back from 8 credits @ 3.33 or 2.67.

    Freshman year requires many adjustments and it just seems that o-chem grades suffer when people take it as freshman

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