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3 Science classes+MCAT or summer school?

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repoetic

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I'm having some trouble making a decision about my course schedule next year. I was originally planning on taking orgo I and physics I in Fall 2017 and orgo II, physics II and biochem in Spring 2018 while preparing for the spring MCAT. However, I'm starting to have doubts about whether 3 science classes + MCAT preparation would be a manageable for a pre-med student. The alternative would be taking orgo I over the summer, orgo II and physics I in the fall and biochem and physics II in the spring.

The latter plan is probably erring on the side of caution but I'm hesitant to do this because I've been told that medical schools look down on students taking pre-requisite classes at colleges other than the ones they attend and summer classes in general. I live in another state so I'd most likely be taking it at the local university. Another concern is that I often spend the summers preparing for my science classes in advance so that I'm able to keep up with the pace that they go during the academic year. I would have trouble doing that if I took organic chemistry over the summer. I am probably going to pick up a part-time job as well but I'm not sure if medical schools would view this as a good/legitimate use of my time or not over the summer (as opposed to organic chemistry). Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Any anecdotal experience or advice is appreciated.
 

Dox4lyfe

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I'm pretty much in the same boat. I'll be taking cell bio, an intensive Chem lab and physio while prepping for the mcat. People have told me that it's doable since I'd be taking the classes right before the mcat and so it would make prepping for those subjects a lot easier and quicker. What does the sdn community think?
 

halamadrid17

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Form your schedule as if the MCAT preparation is another extremely difficult course...most people, including myself, generally take three courses (less difficult courses) during the semester of preparation before MCAT. You don't want to overwhelm yourself with coursework + prep
 
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darmalee

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I'm having some trouble making a decision about my course schedule next year. I was originally planning on taking orgo I and physics I in Fall 2017 and orgo II, physics II and biochem in Spring 2018 while preparing for the spring MCAT. However, I'm starting to have doubts about whether 3 science classes + MCAT preparation would be a manageable for a pre-med student. The alternative would be taking orgo I over the summer, orgo II and physics I in the fall and biochem and physics II in the spring.

The latter plan is probably erring on the side of caution but I'm hesitant to do this because I've been told that medical schools look down on students taking pre-requisite classes at colleges other than the ones they attend and summer classes in general. I live in another state so I'd most likely be taking it at the local university. Another concern is that I often spend the summers preparing for my science classes in advance so that I'm able to keep up with the pace that they go during the academic year. I would have trouble doing that if I took organic chemistry over the summer. I am probably going to pick up a part-time job as well but I'm not sure if medical schools would view this as a good/legitimate use of my time or not over the summer (as opposed to organic chemistry). Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Any anecdotal experience or advice is appreciated.

I can't imagine that working over the summer would be looked down on or viewed as a non-legitimate use of your time. While medical school preparation is certainly a very important part of your life, it doesn't have to be the singular focus of every waking moment. If you need to get a job over the summer, get a job over the summer.

I'd say the bigger concern here is, honestly, the fact that you spend your summers preparing in advance in order to keep up with your regular classes. Medical school goes at an absolutely furious pace and if you are not able to keep up in undergrad, the onslaught of information you're expected to process and absorb will drown you, unfortunately. Something to think seriously about.
 
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repoetic

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Thank you, everyone, for the feedback. To clarify, MCAT preparation is considered as intensive and time-consuming as a normal academic class? If so, orgo might be better off taken over the summer to avoid this 4th "science class." Can anyone speak to the opinion of medical schools on pre-requisites taken over the summer, especially at other colleges? Taking a summer class would probably mean not working over the summer.

Also, I'm generally able to keep up with coursework without preparing in advance but I've found that it significantly improves my performance in my science pre-requisites. Not necessary, but very helpful.
 

gonnif

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Thank you, everyone, for the feedback. To clarify, MCAT preparation is considered as intensive and time-consuming as a normal academic class?


I tell students to consider MCAT equal to 2 heavy science courses for a normal term

If so, orgo might be better off taken over the summer to avoid this 4th "science class." Can anyone speak to the opinion of medical schools on pre-requisites taken over the summer, especially at other colleges? Taking a summer class would probably mean not working over the summer.

Because of the compressed time frame, use of adjunct, and and not covering all material, many medical schools perceive summer courses as less rigorous. Additionally, taking Orgo in the summer, where you essentially have 15 weeks of classes in 5 weeks, has a tremendous of amount of material with absolutely no buffer time requiring you to be on top of it constantly. Working while trying to take Organic in the summer is a challenge.

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine
Frequently Asked Questions | College of Medicine | SUNY Upstate Medical University
“Applicants should avoid taking more than one or two prerequisite science courses during the summer and avoid taking them at community colleges.”

Also, I'm generally able to keep up with coursework without preparing in advance but I've found that it significantly improves my performance in my science pre-requisites. Not necessary, but very helpful.
 

repoetic

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I tell students to consider MCAT equal to 2 heavy science courses for a normal term



Because of the compressed time frame, use of adjunct, and and not covering all material, many medical schools perceive summer courses as less rigorous. Additionally, taking Orgo in the summer, where you essentially have 15 weeks of classes in 5 weeks, has a tremendous of amount of material with absolutely no buffer time requiring you to be on top of it constantly. Working while trying to take Organic in the summer is a challenge.

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine
Frequently Asked Questions | College of Medicine | SUNY Upstate Medical University
“Applicants should avoid taking more than one or two prerequisite science courses during the summer and avoid taking them at community colleges.”

Well, it looks like I'm in a tough position- either take "5" science classes in a semester or take the hit of a summer science class. In your opinion, is it worth the risk of stretching myself too thin that spring semester in order to avoid the negative perception of a summer class? I would appreciate anyone's advice because I want to make a calculated, relatively safe bet.
 

gonnif

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Well, it looks like I'm in a tough position- either take "5" science classes in a semester or take the hit of a summer science class. In your opinion, is it worth the risk of stretching myself too thin that spring semester in order to avoid the negative perception of a summer class? I would appreciate anyone's advice because I want to make a calculated, relatively safe bet.

Taking a single class in the summer is much less of a risk than 5 "classes" in spring, risking all those grades and MCAT.
Other than planning a gap year, I would advise you take the summer organic. You must now reduce the risk in that class by not working during that class (or doing much more sleeping and eating) is as well start getting the supplemental books that people recommend and Khan Academy. Just stay on top of the class
 
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halamadrid17

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Well, it looks like I'm in a tough position- either take "5" science classes in a semester or take the hit of a summer science class. In your opinion, is it worth the risk of stretching myself too thin that spring semester in order to avoid the negative perception of a summer class? I would appreciate anyone's advice because I want to make a calculated, relatively safe bet.
I understand your desire to get all of the pre-requisites out of the way and knock out the MCAT in the next two semesters, but remember that this process is a marathon, not a sprint. If you feel confident that you would receive as high of grades in these courses if you take them over the next three semesters vs two then by all means take them all now. But you don't want to compromise any good grades for the sake of getting done sooner, or trying to avoid a gap year. My 2 cents is to figure out a plan that is conducive to your success, not some strict timeline you feel like you want to follow to apply next year.
 
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