Is it worth it to take Organic Chemistry again at Harvard Extension?

Nov 4, 2016
7
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Pre-Medical
Hey SDN!

I'm currently signed up for Introduction to Biochemistry (BIOS E-10) and Principles of Organic Chemistry (CHEM E-17) at Harvard Extension School. I emailed the professor about the course content; here's what she said:

"Chem E-17 covers most topics from both semesters of organic chemistry (about 90% of the MCAT content). The course is designed for students who plan to take only one semester of organic chemistry, following new medical school requirements. For those who need to take two semesters, they can take Chem E-17 and Chem E-27."

The issue is that I've already taken a semester of OChem1+lab at community college back home, and med schools are only requiring 1 semester these days. I did well in the class and feel like I had a good understanding of the content. The class I'm taking at HES covers topics I've already learned, but I decided I wanted to take it to solidify my OChem, since I'm here for Biochem anyway

Is it worth the time and money? The benefit is that I'm taking the course at a more rigorous school, so it'll look better on my application. I'm just concerned that I won't learn anything new.

Here's the link to the HES course description:

Principles of Organic Chemistry
 

joschar

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I don't think that's worth it at all. You won't gain anything a $20 review book won't give you.
 
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gonnif

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Is it worth the time and money? The benefit is that I'm taking the course at a more rigorous school, so it'll look better on my application. I'm just concerned that I won't learn anything new.

Why do premeds in general always view everything as positive and helpful with never considering any of the negative possibilities.

Retaking a course that you already took and did well in will raise questions at to why you did that. Well they got a A in a CC course, oh it was CC, maybe it was a weak course and he/she only did well because it was weak? Maybe they need to retake it cause they really didnt learn anything? wonder about the other supposedly good grades he/she got from the CC? maybe the CC is just a weak place? And what is they do worse in the retake? what does that say?

Retaking the same course that you already got a C in or better has almost no up side and only presents downside risk. You have had the material before so therefore you would be expected to get an A. That is the regular expectation, so you really cant impress by getting somehow higher that an A, no can you, hence no upside. But if you get less than an A, it will bring into question all I said in first paragraph and be a real negative, hence a large downside risk.

There are almost no situations where it will be helpful to your medical school application to retake a class you have previously passed. While it can be helpful in MCAT prep, it may in fact be construed as a negative for the actual medical school admissions process. Applicants would be better off either unofficially auditing a class, taking a prep class, or reviewing the material from a prep book or previous course material. Use of internet sources, such a Khan Academy and others will help enormously . Lastly, students can get a very detailed MCAT content guide free from the AAMC and go thru it themselves, using their previous course material and other free sources to essentially "retake" their course focused on the MCAT exam https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/f7/e5/f7e57fb2-44fa-4c00-83dd-c17cee034c47/mcat2015-content.pdf
 
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Doctor-S

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Hey SDN!

I'm currently signed up for Introduction to Biochemistry (BIOS E-10) and Principles of Organic Chemistry (CHEM E-17) at Harvard Extension School. I emailed the professor about the course content; here's what she said:

"Chem E-17 covers most topics from both semesters of organic chemistry (about 90% of the MCAT content). The course is designed for students who plan to take only one semester of organic chemistry, following new medical school requirements. For those who need to take two semesters, they can take Chem E-17 and Chem E-27."

The issue is that I've already taken a semester of OChem1+lab at community college back home, and med schools are only requiring 1 semester these days. I did well in the class and feel like I had a good understanding of the content. The class I'm taking at HES covers topics I've already learned, but I decided I wanted to take it to solidify my OChem, since I'm here for Biochem anyway

Is it worth the time and money? The benefit is that I'm taking the course at a more rigorous school, so it'll look better on my application. I'm just concerned that I won't learn anything new.

Here's the link to the HES course description:

Principles of Organic Chemistry
If you absolutely want to take this course (even though you do NOT need to take it for credit or for an academic grade), are you allowed to simply "audit" the on-campus course? Then, you can sit-in on the on-campus course.

I also noticed this course can be taken "online" (instead of on-campus).

[Note: practically anyone can sign up for Harvard Extension courses - especially its online courses. These courses are open to anyone, who pays a fee.]

TL/DR: this course will NOT look better on your application.
 
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Goro

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Why do premeds in general always view everything as positive and helpful with never considering any of the negative possibilities.
Because it's HARVARD!!!!
 
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OP
M
Nov 4, 2016
7
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Pre-Medical
Why do premeds in general always view everything as positive and helpful with never considering any of the negative possibilities.

Lastly, students can get a very detailed MCAT content guide free from the AAMC and go thru it themselves, using their previous course material and other free sources to essentially "retake" their course focused on the MCAT exam https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/f7/e5/f7e57fb2-44fa-4c00-83dd-c17cee034c47/mcat2015-content.pdf
Well, I am considering the negative possibilities. That's why I'm asking you :)

Thanks for the link. I'll check out the guide.
 
OP
M
Nov 4, 2016
7
0
Status
Pre-Medical
If you absolutely want to take this course (even though you do NOT need to take it for credit or for an academic grade), are you allowed to simply "audit" the on-campus course? Then, you can sit-in on the on-campus course.

I also noticed this course can be taken "online" (instead of on-campus).

[Note: practically anyone can sign up for Harvard Extension courses - especially its online courses. These courses are open to anyone, who pays a fee.]

TL/DR: this course will NOT look better on your application.

View attachment 223149
I doubt I'd be able to audit the course, but I can ask the professor.

There's a distance learning option where the lectures are streamed live with staff available on chat.

Appreciate the advice! I'm leaning towards dropping before the refund date.
 

gonnif

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863168

@MeistR There is no way an advisor or an adcom can advise you on what courses you should be taking without understanding what courses you have taken in the past, your respective scores, your current enrollment, and your current work load. Querying a random subset of people requires a well-established context. Usually queries that are poorly backed up with little or no contextual information receive poor responses. On the other hand, there is a bias where people who post a ton of contextual information receive positive responses out of sympathy or empathy from other applicants. Understanding how to be salient in formatting your question is unfortunately a major factor in getting the right responses.

To me, you sound like someone who is shopping through a discount magazine for something to buy with a limited budget. But I don't know what your stock is, so I don't know if your purchase history will look like crap after you buy the item and show it on your transcript. Why would you buy 32 jars of tomato sauce when you already have 10 unused jars in your pantry? Why take Organic Chemistry for the 2nd time when you already did well on it the first time? Adcoms look at the information given and try to retroactively screen out or create a narrative to judge which applicants are filtered through the process. Don't be the crazy cat lady.
 
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OP
M
Nov 4, 2016
7
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@MeistR There is no way an advisor or an adcom can advise you on what courses you should be taking without understanding what courses you have taken in the past, your respective scores, your current enrollment, and your current work load.
That's true.

Background: BS in Supply Chain Management, BA in Business Sustainability, 3 years as a professional in SCM

Current courseload:
Introduction to Biochemistry at HES

Completed pre-requisites (all at community colleges except English):
Gen chem 1
Gen chem 2
Ochem 1
Physics 1
Physics 2
Molecular and cellular biology
Microbiology
English 101 + 102 (at state university)

Current workload:
None - looking for internships/employment, volunteer opportunities, research projects.

Completed recommended courses (all at state university):
Sociology 101
Macroeconomics
Anatomy & physiology 1 and 2
 

coldspring

2+ Year Member
Dec 28, 2016
22
23
Hey SDN!

I'm currently signed up for Introduction to Biochemistry (BIOS E-10) and Principles of Organic Chemistry (CHEM E-17) at Harvard Extension School. I emailed the professor about the course content; here's what she said:

"Chem E-17 covers most topics from both semesters of organic chemistry (about 90% of the MCAT content). The course is designed for students who plan to take only one semester of organic chemistry, following new medical school requirements. For those who need to take two semesters, they can take Chem E-17 and Chem E-27."

The issue is that I've already taken a semester of OChem1+lab at community college back home, and med schools are only requiring 1 semester these days. I did well in the class and feel like I had a good understanding of the content. The class I'm taking at HES covers topics I've already learned, but I decided I wanted to take it to solidify my OChem, since I'm here for Biochem anyway

Is it worth the time and money? The benefit is that I'm taking the course at a more rigorous school, so it'll look better on my application. I'm just concerned that I won't learn anything new.

Here's the link to the HES course description:

Principles of Organic Chemistry
If your aim is to gain acceptance into medical school, before you start taking coursework already completed (and for which you say you have a solid understanding), you should optimize your efforts to shore up areas of study that could negatively impact your mcat score. You haven't said what the other pieces of your application look like, but time is usually too precious a commodity to squander as you've suggested.
 
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863168

@MeistR Note that I'm not an adcom. But you are undergoing a DIY Post-bac and your course load isn't impressive. Let me contextualize this, if you are pursuing your own post-bac courses instead of going through an SMP (specialized masters program) for medical school, then I would like to at least see a similarity in course rigor when comparing your own choice of classes compared to the status quo SMP program. I used the follow link to Georgetown's SMP program to extrapolate the following curriculum of what a standard SMP program looks like:

Another reference that you can use is Goro's advice for DO applicants. When I discussed that context is important, I meant that academic transcripts alone can be viewed through a variety of perspectives to develop a guess on the student's academic capability. For instance, a student who only takes 2 classes per semester but gets A's can still be seen by the admission committee to be limited in that their capacity for depth of learning is only 2 classes worth and they will not be able to handle the immense volume of knowledge that comes quickly in medical school. Another connotation that can come across is that this student may still be immature and have a perfection-complex in which they want perfect results in an imperfect world. There is no denying that the current educational model is consumer based and consumer driven. However, medicine is a service based industry. A lot of medical schools want to know if you can handle pressure because residency is a pressure cooker and medical schools want to vet students that will leave a good reputation to the hospitals who accept their students. A lot of logistic elements behind the medical curriculum is also built around the student needing to be a self-learner when they participate in rotations and have to balance shelf learning with on the job learning. This means that even if you have a full time job with a full time commitment, medical schools want to also see a full time coursework from a semester to a year to see if you can indicate that you have the potential to succeed in the later years of medical school. To reiterate, I'm not an admissions committee member, but I believe that this is consistent with their thought process. If it's not, then I suggest listening to the feedback they give over mine.
 
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Gurby

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Jul 28, 2014
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Why are you taking HES courses in the first place? It looks like you've finished the pre-req's aside from Biochem. How does taking this class or any of the others that you listed benefit you?
 
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863168

Why are you taking HES courses in the first place? It looks like you've finished the pre-req's aside from Biochem. How does taking this class or any of the others that you listed benefit you?
Presumably mediocre GPA and MCAT preparation. As always, hard to play whack-a-mole on John Doe like queries.
 
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OP
M
Nov 4, 2016
7
0
Status
Pre-Medical
@MeistR Note that I'm not an adcom. But you are undergoing a DIY Post-bac and your course load isn't impressive. Let me contextualize this, if you are pursuing your own post-bac courses instead of going through an SMP (specialized masters program) for medical school, then I would like to at least see a similarity in course rigor when comparing your own choice of classes compared to the status quo SMP program.
Honestly, it sucks to hear that, but I can put my ego aside and heed your advice. At this point, however, there's not much I can do in terms of curriculum. I'll just focus on finishing strong with this final class, finding relevant work, and studying for the MCAT.
 
8

863168

Honestly, it sucks to hear that, but I can put my ego aside and heed your advice. At this point, however, there's not much I can do in terms of curriculum. I'll just focus on finishing strong with this final class, finding relevant work, and studying for the MCAT.
Do your own research. Look at Goro's thread. Look at SMP's and decide if that is for you. Please note, some of them which are direct linkage can be very cutthroat based on what I heard from a student that matriculated into Touro NY's program from their SMP program. I understand that you don't want to share your cGPA/sGPA because of anonymity along with other factors such as extracurricular activities. Don't act before thinking about how you might explain it in an interview. I don't want to paralyze you into inaction, but act with intentionality so that you can prove who you are through what you do. Admission committee members don't know who you are and won't get to know you, but they can see what you do based on what you report and can decide whether you will be a strong candidate at their school. Getting an interview is the start of another journey altogether. Best of luck.

Also, you should never take any one's person advice at full value, because all advice is limited by that individual's scope and personal experience. Ascertain the truth on your own, I believe that people should act according to their own beliefs because they harbor the responsibility of their own actions.
 
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