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Just finished Freshman Year, Need Advice Going Forward

danielthemaniel

Overthinking
May 28, 2020
20
2
26
  1. Pre-Medical
Hello SDN, this is my first post and I know questions similar to this have been asked before but I wanted specific advice on my situation.
For context, I finished freshman year with a 3.949 cGPA and 4.0 sGPA, but I took some courses P/F. I created a research proposal with my research group this past year for research next semester on viral replication that was approved by my university. I wasn’t too involved with EC’s or volunteering but I plan to get more involved this upcoming year as well as shadowing. The point of this post was both for general advice and for concerns about taking some courses P/F. I’m worrying now that even if I retake those courses for a letter grade that I will be at a crippling disadvantage. So here was my first year:

Semester 1:
•English 101 (3 credits)—> A-
•Social Psychology (3 credits)—> A
•Biological Sciences of Pollinators (3 credits)—> A
•Introduction to Research (Semester 1/3, 3 credits) —> A
•Introduction to University (1 credit) —> A+

Semester 2:
•Statistical Methods in Psychology (3 credits) —> P
•Organic Chemistry 1 (3 credits)—> P
•Organic Chemistry 1 Lab (1 credit)—> P
•Elementary Statistics and Probability—> A
•Immersion in Research (Semester 2/3, 2 credits)—> A+
•Communications and Public Speaking (3 credits)—> W

I know that taking those courses P/F did me no favors being as important as they are, but does anyone have any advice for what to do from here? I am currently studying this summer in preparation for next semester as well as looking around for volunteering, if there is any available. Will retaking those courses for a letter grade in the future still leave me at a disadvantage? (I am aware that when retaking a course a student is expected to get an A.) Any thoughts or advice in general?
 

KnightDoc

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Mar 14, 2019
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  1. Pre-Medical
Hello SDN, this is my first post and I know questions similar to this have been asked before but I wanted specific advice on my situation.
For context, I finished freshman year with a 3.949 cGPA and 4.0 sGPA, but I took some courses P/F. I created a research proposal with my research group this past year for research next semester on viral replication that was approved by my university. I wasn’t too involved with EC’s or volunteering but I plan to get more involved this upcoming year as well as shadowing. The point of this post was both for general advice and for concerns about taking some courses P/F. I’m worrying now that even if I retake those courses for a letter grade that I will be at a crippling disadvantage. So here was my first year:

Semester 1:
•English 101 (3 credits)—> A-
•Social Psychology (3 credits)—> A
•Biological Sciences of Pollinators (3 credits)—> A
•Introduction to Research (Semester 1/3, 3 credits) —> A
•Introduction to University (1 credit) —> A+

Semester 2:
•Statistical Methods in Psychology (3 credits) —> P
•Organic Chemistry 1 (3 credits)—> P
•Organic Chemistry 1 Lab (1 credit)—> P
•Elementary Statistics and Probability—> A
•Immersion in Research (Semester 2/3, 2 credits)—> A+
•Communications and Public Speaking (3 credits)—> W

I know that taking those courses P/F did me no favors being as important as they are, but does anyone have any advice for what to do from here? I am currently studying this summer in preparation for next semester as well as looking around for volunteering, if there is any available. Will retaking those courses for a letter grade in the future still leave me at a disadvantage? (I am aware that when retaking a course a student is expected to get an A.) Any thoughts or advice in general?
No need to retake anything, and if you do well from here on, you will be fine, but, yeah, you did yourself no favors and your 4.0 definitely comes with an asterisk. Schools are not going to like the fact that you manipulated your GPA, but 3 courses aren't going to make you or break you over the course of your entire UG career. They will just assume you had the Bs or Cs that you were masking and move on from there.
 
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LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
25,698
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by OC he means Organic Chemistry which is often a difficult course in which people earn the lowest grade of their academic career.

You are off to a fine start. No need to retake anything. Everyone will recognize that many schools offered only Pass/no pass in Spring 2020. If you had the option of choosing a grade or Pass/no pass, you might be shut out of some schools (Harvard, for example) that will not accept "P" at schools that offered the option of a grade. If you are gunning for those top 10 schools, you might need to think about retaking some classes but cross that bridge when you come to it. No sense repeating classes and incurring more expense at this point.

Start finding some way to be of service to those in the community who can't help themselves (eg: the very young, the very old, the homeless, etc). As soon as hospitals open to visitors and volunteers, begin to get some clinical exposure through shadowing and volunteering or do some training and get a job in a clnical setting (doing direct patient care or phlebotomy or pre-hospital emergency service).
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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May 26, 2018
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I plan on taking Organic Chemistry 2 with laboratory if that counts. I’m confused as to what you mean by OC being suspicious, is that AP credit?
Organic Chem. You also need to take biochem for most schools. so how many science courses are you planning to take given your major and claiming lot of AP credits?
 
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danielthemaniel

Overthinking
May 28, 2020
20
2
26
  1. Pre-Medical
Organic Chem. You also need to take biochem for most schools. so how many science courses are you planning to take given your major and laiming lot of AP credits?
I plan on completing all of the prereqs including orgo 2 and biochem, as well as genetics and cell bio. My major isn’t too intensive but there are some more science courses that I still need to take in it.
 
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danielthemaniel

Overthinking
May 28, 2020
20
2
26
  1. Pre-Medical
by OC he means Organic Chemistry which is often a difficult course in which people earn the lowest grade of their academic career.

You are off to a fine start. No need to retake anything. Everyone will recognize that many schools offered only Pass/no pass in Spring 2020. If you had the option of choosing a grade or Pass/no pass, you might be shut out of some schools (Harvard, for example) that will not accept "P" at schools that offered the option of a grade. If you are gunning for those top 10 schools, you might need to think about retaking some classes but cross that bridge when you come to it. No sense repeating classes and incurring more expense at this point.

Start finding some way to be of service to those in the community who can't help themselves (eg: the very young, the very old, the homeless, etc). As soon as hospitals open to visitors and volunteers, begin to get some clinical exposure through shadowing and volunteering or do some training and get a job in a clnical setting (doing direct patient care or phlebotomy or pre-hospital emergency service).
Thanks, I should also mention that my school was optional P/F (was probably evident from my semester 2 marks). I’m not really deadset on a top ten school, as long as it’s an MD school it should be fine, although I wouldn’t turn down Harvard. I will take your advice on getting involved.
 

EdgeTrimmer

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May 26, 2018
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I plan on completing all of the prereqs including orgo 2 and biochem, as well as genetics and cell bio. My major isn’t too intensive but there are some more science courses that I still need to take in it.
You should be OK, but schools like Harvard may not be forgiving. What's the reason to take that many AP credits?
 

danielthemaniel

Overthinking
May 28, 2020
20
2
26
  1. Pre-Medical
You should be OK, but schools like Harvard may not be forgiving. What's the reason to take that many AP credits?
I have even more AP credits than the ones I mentioned, such as computer science and government. That’s just how it was at my high school and among my friends, it was assumed by everyone that you were to take all those classes. I really wish I had not stressed out so much but oh well.
 
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danielthemaniel

Overthinking
May 28, 2020
20
2
26
  1. Pre-Medical
It is not uncommon among the applicants I interview at a top research med school to see 27-30 AP credits. That's 9 or 10 classes!
Speaking of interviews, if I am asked about taking P’s this semester (which I feel there is a good chance that I will be) my reasoning is that I was reliant on office hours and discussion sessions and had trouble adjusting to learning online from home halfway through the semester. What is your take on that?
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
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Speaking of interviews, if I am asked about taking P’s this semester (which I feel there is a good chance that I will be) my reasoning is that I was reliant on office hours and discussion sessions and had trouble adjusting to learning online from home halfway through the semester. What is your take on that?

You are unlikely to be asked about it in interview. I'd certainly have other fish to fry and not bother with that sort of thing from several years earlier. I'd rather talk about what attracts you to a career in medicine, the kind of reserach you've done, what you do for fun or how you got involved in one of your activities, why you picked your major and/or your undergraduate school, something specific about your study habits.

But don't they take higher level science classes in college?

Most do. I interview them after at least 2 years of college, sometimes after 3 or 4. The OP has only been in college for a year.
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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Most do. I interview them after at least 2 years of college, sometimes after 3 or 4. The OP has only been in college for a year.
Since OP indicating that he will more science classes, they should be fine. But if a non-science major takes only Organic Chem and Biochem and uses AP/IB credits for rest of premed requirements how would your school treat such an applicant?
 

KnightDoc

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2+ Year Member
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Since OP indicating that he will more science classes, they should be fine. But if a non-science major takes only Organic Chem and Biochem and uses AP/IB credits for rest of premed requirements how would your school treat such an applicant?
Why are you wasting @LizzyM's valuable time with such a basic, rookie question? :)

I am pretty sure, and am also pretty sure that you know, that schools like to see college level work and grades for prereqs. At my school, we are advised that if we come in with AP credits, we either have to take upper level courses for chem, bio, physics, etc. or take the intro class for a grade to replace the AP credit. There is no way a non-science major can apply to most med schools with only Orgo, Biochem, and a bunch of AP credits.
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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Why are you wasting @LizzyM's valuable time with such a basic, rookie question? :)

I am pretty sure, and am also pretty sure that you know, that schools like to see college level work and grades for prereqs. At my school, we are advised that if we come in with AP credits, we either have to take upper level courses for chem, bio, physics, etc. or take the intro class for a grade to replace the AP credit. There is no way a non-science major can apply to most med schools with only Orgo, Biochem, and a bunch of AP credits.
To help rookies who wants to use all the AP/IB credits and do non-science major :)
 

KnightDoc

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AP credits only satisfy intro courses; there are no AP courses for the orgo, biochem, gen chem 2, and advanced bio classes that are pre-requisites for med school.
Yes. The point is that med schools want to see grades at the college level for prereqs. If you get AP credits or otherwise place out of those classes, they expect to see upper level classes in the same subjects, with grades. This is a non-issue for science majors, who have a ton of graded classes to show adcoms their proficiency. The point of @srk2021's query is that non-science majors with lots of AP credits cannot skate by with only orgo and biochem and expect to get into med school. Gen chem 2 and advanced bio classes are not prereqs, but are required if you place out of gen chem 1 and intro bio.

Just one example, from Columbia:

Applicants must have:
  • At the time of application, at least three full academic years at a regionally accredited college in the United States or Canada.
  • Baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation.
  • One year of English or other writing-intensive course.
  • One year of Biology with labs.
  • One year of Physics with labs.
  • Two years of Chemistry, one of which must be Organic Chemistry, both with labs.
  • Biochemistry, Statistics and Biostatistics are highly recommended but not required.
 
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