Jun 23, 2013
132
49
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Before everyone yells at me for this post (seems you all are mostly used to frantic pre-med whines and rants), I'm just curious about what you all think about this. Obviously medical school is an extremely challenging route and thus requires a moderately high GPA to show (some) mastering of scientific material. I come from a university that allows students to create their own schedules by professors, and often that results in students taking the "easy A" professors versus the challenging ones. As far as the class itself goes, there would be no differentiation on a transcript because both professors teach the same course. Additionally, many of these students take these "easier" science classes after taking an MCAT, so this wouldn't really affect their MCAT score. Sometimes the additional free time allows the students to pursue other activities, like more research and volunteer work.

As a student, I've done my best to stay away from those "easy" professors because I am genuinely interested in science and I would like to learn. However, I've seen many students make higher GPAs (around 0.2 higher) than students taking these same courses with more challenging professors. I've also seen students participate in amazing extracurricular activities and earning hundreds of hours in shadowing/volunteer work that other students didn't have the time for. Although I couldn't ditch my own challenging classes for "easier" ones, I'm curious about what you guys think.

Have you ever or do you plan on taking "easier" math/science professors to boost your GPA? Do you think that medical schools put too much pressure on students to attain that 4.0 - so much to the point that grades are more important than mastering the material? Do you think the slackers will "pay for it" with the end by struggling through med school material?

Please don't kill me for trying to start a discussion here. I'm not biased or seeking confirmation or approval of my own ideas.
 

surfguy84

7+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2012
590
231
Status
Medical Student
I will always go for the easier professor when given the chance. Easier doesn't equate to learning less/being less prepared. It could related to one professor dropping a low exam grade. Another offering extra credit opportunities. Perhaps a "hard" professor is "hard" because they simply suck at being a professor. Who's to say what the basis is, as to why one is easy, and another hard?

Am I a slacker because I choose an easier professor? I dont think so. I have a good understanding of the material, I'm getting straight A's, and any deficiencies I may have developed as a result of my 'easy" professor, I'm confident I can compensate for when it comes time to study for the MCAT. Bottom line, I'm doing what I have to do to get the highest GPA's possible.

Additionally, after I take the MCAT this upcoming spring, I plan to continue padding my science GPA with even more upper-level classes taught by "easy" professors. Why wouldn't I? I'm taking every advantage I can get over the competition and frankly, the more people who opt to take the hard professor and settle for a B or B+ instead of that A, make life easier for me (and others with my mindset).
 
Apr 23, 2013
1,697
743
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Medical Student
My order of preference:

1. Hard but fair (ie, a class where the expectations are clear and you learn a lot)
2. Easy
3. Hard because unfair/poorly taught.

The key is identifying the difference between 1) and 3) beforehand.
 
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Mavs88

5+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2013
994
512
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Medical Student (Accepted)
I try to find a balance. No matter what kind of professor there is, I am going to study all the material and be prepared regardless. I'd rather have a professor that has a track record of offering more extra credit or not making impossible exams. The classes are hard as it is, and there is nothing wrong with taking an "easier" professor.

Though, if it is a professor that sucks at teaching but will give you the grade you want, then don't do it.
 

Anicetus

5+ Year Member
Apr 11, 2013
1,499
1,198
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Medical Student
My order of preference:

1. Hard but fair (ie, a class where the expectations are clear and you learn a lot)
2. Easy
3. Hard because unfair/poorly taught.

The key is identifying the difference between 1) and 3) beforehand.
It's hard to usually differentiate between 1 and 3.


@OP: At the end of the day looking back on undergrad.... Take the professor that dishes out the most As. A 3.7 looks better than a 3.5 and a 3.5 looks better than a 3.3 so that 0.2 your buddies have over you can matter a little bit.

If you want your challenge, just wait for medical school.
 

acslater99

5+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2012
374
141
Status
Pre-Medical
Lets say hypothetically you are going to take a prerequisite for medical school. You know the professor that teaches the course, because he/she is notorious for being extremely hard. Trying to not take his/her class you try and see if there are any professors teaching the course. You find out that he/she is the only one that is teaching the course that semester. What do you do? Take the class and hope for the best or wait it out another semester to see if someone else is teaching the course?
 

Anicetus

5+ Year Member
Apr 11, 2013
1,499
1,198
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Medical Student
Lets say hypothetically you are going to take a prerequisite for medical school. You know the professor that teaches the course, because he/she is notorious for being extremely hard. Trying to not take his/her class you try and see if there are any professors teaching the course. You find out that he/she is the only one that is teaching the course that semester. What do you do? Take the class and hope for the best or wait it out another semester to see if someone else is teaching the course?
Don't professors know if they will be teaching a course next semester? I would ask the professors you hope to take via email etc.
 
Dec 21, 2012
17
12
Status
Pre-Medical
There were a few courses that were taught by "easy" and "hard" professors alternating semesters. I ended up with a lot of the harder professors, mostly because it was easier to get into those classes (and because I was a little bit prideful and didn't want to take the easy way out.) I don't think I did myself any favors by doing this. If you are really concerned about the quality of the learning, do some research and make sure that is actually what you will be getting for all of the extra effort. Otherwise, stick with the easier professor and do all of that extra stuff that you feel like you're missing out on. You will be glad to have the stellar GPA and the ECs when it comes time to apply. I know I wish I would have done that.
 

AxiomaticTruth

5+ Year Member
Jan 27, 2013
184
11
Status
Easy profesors all the way. You'll self-teach yourself the material if you really want 100% mastery, and not worrying about bull**** grading or exams is a huge stressor off my back. Better to ace an easy class and still understand the material than to pull all nighters only to get a C due to stupidness. Of course this relies on you being a self-motivator.
 

487806

Life of the Party!
Aug 9, 2012
15,231
980
Inside a black hole
Before everyone yells at me for this post (seems you all are mostly used to frantic pre-med whines and rants), I'm just curious about what you all think about this. Obviously medical school is an extremely challenging route and thus requires a moderately high GPA to show (some) mastering of scientific material. I come from a university that allows students to create their own schedules by professors, and often that results in students taking the "easy A" professors versus the challenging ones. As far as the class itself goes, there would be no differentiation on a transcript because both professors teach the same course. Additionally, many of these students take these "easier" science classes after taking an MCAT, so this wouldn't really affect their MCAT score. Sometimes the additional free time allows the students to pursue other activities, like more research and volunteer work.

As a student, I've done my best to stay away from those "easy" professors because I am genuinely interested in science and I would like to learn. However, I've seen many students make higher GPAs (around 0.2 higher) than students taking these same courses with more challenging professors. I've also seen students participate in amazing extracurricular activities and earning hundreds of hours in shadowing/volunteer work that other students didn't have the time for. Although I couldn't ditch my own challenging classes for "easier" ones, I'm curious about what you guys think.

Have you ever or do you plan on taking "easier" math/science professors to boost your GPA? Do you think that medical schools put too much pressure on students to attain that 4.0 - so much to the point that grades are more important than mastering the material? Do you think the slackers will "pay for it" with the end by struggling through med school material?

Please don't kill me for trying to start a discussion here. I'm not biased or seeking confirmation or approval of my own ideas.
Easy professors without a question. Anyhow, you'll self-study for exams, so why make your life difficult by choosing a hard professor?
 
OP
missdr10
Jun 23, 2013
132
49
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I see what a lot of you are saying and I respect that; my ultimate goal is to get into a medical school and I realize that a better GPA would help me with that.

Anyhow, you'll self-study for exams, so why make your life difficult by choosing a hard professor?
Right, but an easy professor wouldn't require studying to the extent that a difficult professor would. This would inevitably lead to less understanding of the material.

(and because I was a little bit prideful and didn't want to take the easy way out.) I don't think I did myself any favors by doing this. If you are really concerned about the quality of the learning, do some research and make sure that is actually what you will be getting for all of the extra effort. Otherwise, stick with the easier professor and do all of that extra stuff that you feel like you're missing out on.
Easy profesors all the way. You'll self-teach yourself the material if you really want 100% mastery
I feel the same way and I think your logic sounds reasonable. However, with a heavy course load, do you think most students will push themselves the way a difficult professor would? As a pre-medical professional, shouldn't you want to master the material? How are you supposed to do a lot of research without an extensive background in some of these classes? Obviously you can push yourself to learn a lot of the material, but would you really push yourself to memorize extensive biochemical pathways if you didn't have a professor hounding you to?

These questions are not aimed directly towards either of you - just food for thought.

I'll be registering for Biochem soon and there are a couple of professors - including one who's extremely "easy" (a lot of curves, less material required) and one who teaches the subject thoroughly (memorizing lots of pathways, proteins) but is a lot less likely to give out As. Taking the easy professor would obviously boost my transcript but won't I be screwed over for my first year of medical school? I also feel like I would be taking the easy way out and taking phony classes just to look better on paper.
 

487806

Life of the Party!
Aug 9, 2012
15,231
980
Inside a black hole
Right, but an easy professor wouldn't require studying to the extent that a difficult professor would. This would inevitably lead to less understanding of the material.
So what? You need to be self-motivated if you want to study the material (for your own interest). Having a professor essentially helping you learn the material is unnecessary.

In general, having a high GPA trumps choosing a hard professor and getting a low GPA. But it's inevitably a moot point because you will encounter difficult profs in upper level courses.
 
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Anicetus

5+ Year Member
Apr 11, 2013
1,499
1,198
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Medical Student
I see what a lot of you are saying and I respect that; my ultimate goal is to get into a medical school and I realize that a better GPA would help me with that.


Right, but an easy professor wouldn't require studying to the extent that a difficult professor would. This would inevitably lead to less understanding of the material.





I feel the same way and I think your logic sounds reasonable. However, with a heavy course load, do you think most students will push themselves the way a difficult professor would? As a pre-medical professional, shouldn't you want to master the material? How are you supposed to do a lot of research without an extensive background in some of these classes? Obviously you can push yourself to learn a lot of the material, but would you really push yourself to memorize extensive biochemical pathways if you didn't have a professor hounding you to?

These questions are not aimed directly towards either of you - just food for thought.

I'll be registering for Biochem soon and there are a couple of professors - including one who's extremely "easy" (a lot of curves, less material required) and one who teaches the subject thoroughly (memorizing lots of pathways, proteins) but is a lot less likely to give out As. Taking the easy professor would obviously boost my transcript but won't I be screwed over for my first year of medical school? I also feel like I would be taking the easy way out and taking phony classes just to look better on paper.
You won't be at a disadvantage. You're going to forget the 4th step of glycolysis in a few months.
 

inycepoo

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Removed
Dec 8, 2012
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It's good to have a balance, but those who just play the game will pay for their choices somewhere down the line, most probably by struggling more in med school, or maybe on the MCAT because they never learned anything in the classes and need to catch up. MCAT may be doable in 3 months, but two compressed years is not enough time to reverse a habit of finding the easy way out before Step 1 comes along.

As long as you are not slacking off too much and taking a course load that is way below what you can handle, it should be fine. Inb4 someone says "well idk how much I can handle, that's the problem," then yeah, I'd agree it's a ****ing problem. Go and find out.

IMO, this is the main reason you will hear some people saying that the preclinical years weren't "too bad" (i.e., very difficult and hard, but not killer), while others will have literally almost died and wallowed deeply during the first two years of med school. This happens at every institution, even the top-tiers. Those who stretch themselves reasonably in college and succeed in doing so will reap the benefits somewhere down the line. Those who don't will pay for it someday, though to varying degrees.
 
Nov 13, 2013
9
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Easy teacher doesn't necessarily equate to not learning. My definition of an easy teacher is a teacher who is straight forward about exactly what you need to study or gives you opportunity to make up for past mistakes.

You don't need a hard professor to motivate you to study. You can have all the time in the world to study for fun without having your grades in jeopardy. You'll have to touch up on your sciences anyhow after class is over. They want to see high GPA so you have to play the game.
 
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Oct 5, 2012
45
14
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Pre-Medical
imo, it's the quality of the professor that matters rather than their difficulty level. in undergrad, i just focused on getting the "good" professors (aka professors who care about the quality of their teaching). so to answer your question, i guess i did both, though i didn't actively seek either style out.

with regards to extracurriculars, time management is really key there (along with knowing your own study style). for example, when i took genetics i knew i could spend a little more time on extracurriculars since that topic is pretty intuitive for me, whereas i knew for ochem i couldn't do that.
 
Sep 30, 2011
74
11
Status
Pre-Medical
My Bio professor is considered the "hardest" instructor on campus. As a freshman, when I found this out, I was admittedly a little apprehensive (pre-med jitters, I guess) She certainly attempted to weed out a lot kids (and succeeded) but at no point have I felt as if she was being unfair. True enough, in comparison with a few associates who have the easier instructor(s), my homework and exams tend to probe for the logic behind the science, as opposed to rote memorization - and I'm okay with that. I have not had the unfortunate pleasure of coming across a professor that is deemed challenging and avoided by students for all the wrong reasons, but I have no inherent preference as long as the material is taught adequately and the exams are fair.
 

youmed

7+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2011
230
101
California
Status
Pre-Medical
I see what a lot of you are saying and I respect that; my ultimate goal is to get into a medical school and I realize that a better GPA would help me with that.


Right, but an easy professor wouldn't require studying to the extent that a difficult professor would. This would inevitably lead to less understanding of the material.





I feel the same way and I think your logic sounds reasonable. However, with a heavy course load, do you think most students will push themselves the way a difficult professor would? As a pre-medical professional, shouldn't you want to master the material? How are you supposed to do a lot of research without an extensive background in some of these classes? Obviously you can push yourself to learn a lot of the material, but would you really push yourself to memorize extensive biochemical pathways if you didn't have a professor hounding you to?

These questions are not aimed directly towards either of you - just food for thought.

I'll be registering for Biochem soon and there are a couple of professors - including one who's extremely "easy" (a lot of curves, less material required) and one who teaches the subject thoroughly (memorizing lots of pathways, proteins) but is a lot less likely to give out As. Taking the easy professor would obviously boost my transcript but won't I be screwed over for my first year of medical school? I also feel like I would be taking the easy way out and taking phony classes just to look better on paper.
If learning from harder professors gives you more satisfaction in the sense that you will learn the material more in-depth, then I say go for it and don't worry about the GPA. If you truly love pursuing a deeper understanding of the material, then grades will naturally follow. By the sound of it, you seem to enjoy taking courses with harder professors anyway. As cliche as this sounds, just do what makes you happy.
 

Stormpelt

Account on Hold
Account on Hold
Nov 14, 2013
26
0
Status
Pre-Medical
To be honest, it is a lotttt safer to take easy professors. The amount you learn is really up to you, but at least you won't have to worry about your GPA if you take the easy professors. There really aren't any cons.
Easy professors:
pros:
-easy gpa
neutral:
-you can learn the material more in depth on your own if you want

hard professors:
pros:
-you will be forced to learn a lot
cons:
-gpa might go down if you struggle.

Really, take the easy professors. You can always self-teach yourself the material, but med schools care about your gpa.