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extra chemistry class: retake Gen Chem or take P-Chem?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by hoodle, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    Someone posted a while back about a similar issue, but I thought I'd get people's opinions about my personal dilemma. My liberal arts school (Swarthmore College) has a compressed Gen Chem class that takes 1 semester to complete and assumes strong high school chemistry background. No med schools have trouble with this, as the school has a very very strong academic reputation and the course syllabus for Gen Chem is as detailed as the year-long courses; it just goes faster and assumes competency from the beginning.

    According to my pre-med/vet/health sciences advisor, Cornell and Tufts have both put up a stink about it. Cornell will accept AP chem credit... but will not take the 1 semester class! They won't even take an advanced, seniors only, primary literature based Biochem class as fulfulling the added chem requirement, because it doesn't have a formal lab section attached (Tufts would accept that advanced seminar).

    I will be applying to the DVM/PhD program at Cornell, and they have explicitly said that I need to retake Gen Chem at some other institution (as I can't take a class at Swarthmore twice), or take P-Chem. P-Chem here is damn hard, and I'm not sure I could make an A or an A-. On the other hand, as I'm applying to the academic programs, perhaps a decent (though not excellent) grade in a really hard class would be worth it? I just rebel against taking Gen Chem again, on a purely intellectual level! It seems like applying to Grad school, I should be taking hard classes not stupid ones. I'm all confused about what I should do.

    Any help?
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  3. RazorDoc2010

    RazorDoc2010 Mizzou 2011 2+ Year Member

    Oct 1, 2006
    That situation sucks...

    Personally, I'd go for P-Chem...yea its harder, but it'd be somewhat hard no matter where you take it. Someone else may disagree and say go for the easier A, and I can see where that could be better (admissions are so formulaic for some schools they probably wouldn't account for taking 1 more complex course). It's just my personal preference to keep moving on and not sit through those lower level classes that wouldn't make me into a better thinker.
  4. texlaevis

    texlaevis 2+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2007
    Weslaco, TX
    i'd go for p-chem-- especially because you'll probably have to take it in grad school anyway in the phd portion of your program. maybe they'll even exempt you from it if you do well. :)
  5. fromjersey

    fromjersey 2+ Year Member

    Mar 20, 2007
    In my opinion, this is an important decision.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  6. BlueNewfie

    BlueNewfie Tufts Class of 2011

    Oct 12, 2006
    I was in your exact situation, hoodle, during this application cycle. I also attended a liberal arts school that offered what sounds like an identical accelerated gen chem class. Both Tufts and Cornell initially told me that I would need to take an additional upper level chemistry class because I was technically missing chemistry credits. I graduated from college several years ago, so this would have been difficult. My advice to you would be to send both schools the course description of your accelerated gen chem class. Ask to speak directly to the admissions director and get a final decision on whether you need to take more chemistry from the admissions director. Ask the chair from the chemistry department at Swarthmore to write a letter regarding the accelerated gen chem class and its merits. Pass this letter on to the director of admissions. From experience, I know that the Tufts admissions committee is taking a serious look at this issue.

    Best of luck.
  7. CookieBear

    CookieBear 5+ Year Member

    Oct 1, 2006
    East Coast

    I would also suggest getting the admission director's ruling on the subject in writing, either written or email, just to CYA.
  8. texlaevis

    texlaevis 2+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2007
    Weslaco, TX
    that's a really good point-- i had a situation where my school counted credits differently than the schools i was applying to. these would have made me ineligible to apply to tufts, but i spoke with admissions people/sent course descriptions/had a letter sent from a prof and everything was fine. best to do that early though. good luck!
  9. KittenKiller

    KittenKiller chop suey 7+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Kennett Square, PA
    Thats crappy hoodle. If its any consolation, Ive taken general biology 3 times because my college didnt accept my AP credit as counting, so I took it a second time, then when I applied to vet school my college class was too old to count so I had to take it a third time! It pissed me off so much! Did you take AP chem? If so, can you could AP chem as one semester and the college gen chem as another?

    If not, what about taking a different (not p-chem) class at swarthmore or another school, one thats more biologically oriented or that just interests you. All the picky requirements suck - I wish vet schools would just agree on a set of reqs that would satisfy them all. I hope you can find a solution, but if not, suck it up and retake the chem and think about how easy it will be - you'll never have to go to class and just show up for the exams!
  10. ri23

    ri23 OSU CVM Class of 2011 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2006
    Personally, I would say take another gen chem requirement at a different college. I don't think taking p-chem is worth the risk in grades if you aren't that interested in the subject. Granted, this is coming from someone not pursuing a PhD; if your PhD program would require pchem it might be better to take it.

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