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Major in Chemistry--Bad idea?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by drpsycho, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. drpsycho

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    Hey everyone,
    I'm currently a sophomore and I just finished an AWFUL, AWFUL fall semester. Anyway, I started off taking five classes: a business management class that everyone gets an A in, undergraduate research, pharmacology, organic chemistry II, and physics I. I'm suffering from moderate depression so it's been extremely difficult for me to find motivation to do anything. The depression thing was always kind of there, but it never got bad up to the point where I stopped doing homework for like two weeks. It was really bad...anyway, I ended up dropping physics about two weeks into the semester for the sake of my sanity and so I can focus more on organic chemistry and pharmacology. Now, I don't HATE organic chemistry and I actually really like it...but I wasn't consistent. The second part of organic chemistry is known to be one of the hardest, if not THE hardest class, in my university. Anyway, I wasn't consistent with studying and did extremely poorly on all my exams. I barely did anything...I don't know why and I know it's my fault and I'm getting help (saw a therapist four times and will see a psychiatrist as soon as possible). I ended up failing the class, but fortunately, anything below a C does not show up on our external transcript. I have no C's so far, but I really want to major in chemistry. I'm legitimately interested in the subject and I feel like if I manage my depression effectively, I can do well in the future. I have to retake organic chemistry II next fall and I know this time around I'll do much better or at least I expect to. I planned out my schedule for the next two years and a half and I can still graduate with a chemistry degree on time even if I retake it next fall. Am I being realistic? Or should I take this failure in orgo II as a sign that I shouldn't go near chemistry ever again because I'm simply too stupid? The reason why I want to do chemistry is because I'd like to work for a pharmaceutical company or maybe even get a PhD in medicinal chemistry if I don't get into medical school or whatever. Any advice or comments are appreciated. Thanks.
     
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  3. nabeel76

    nabeel76 Senior Member
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    Its kind of hard to say whether you'll do well in chemistry or not, you'll be a better judge of that - how did you do in general chemistry? I personally thought that organic chemistry was one of the easier chemistry courses, for me it was at least. Pchem, biochem, quantitative analysis, etc. were all way harder in my opinion, but I also feel that the upper level chemistry courses are unlike organic chemistry, so how well you do in organic isn't necessarily that great of an indicator on how well you'll do in chemistry so I wouldn't stress out about it. Biochem might give you a little bit of trouble, but if your a chem major, and not a biochem major, then you can avoid those type of classes - so maybe general chemistry would be a better indicator for you.

    P.S. Are you sure amcas will not have access to grades below a C? That doesn't seem to make sense to me, I would verify that. Anyways good luck with whatever you choose to do.
     
  4. Dr Crys

    Dr Crys 2011 Med School Hopeful
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    I didnt actually take Gen chem but I got a failing grade for not withdrawing properly. I am a chem major, and I think it is going to be fine as long as your COMMITED to doing well the rest of your undergrad career. You can use grade replacement and yes it will show up in your apps, but just make sure you show an upward trend in grades and dedication. Goodluck.
     
  5. drpsycho

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    AMCAS won't have access to it because my school will not release the grade. Any course with "No Credit" doesn't appear on the external transcript so there's no way for them to find out. (I love my school because of that) Anyway, I did ok in general chem but I know I could've gotten an A easily... I actually don't know why I didn't get an A since I felt like I did really well on the final. I never bothered to check. In my school, organic chemistry is definitely way harder than biochemistry period. The only problem I can see in the future is pchem but I'm not going to worry about that yet. If I don't pass pchem, I can always fall back to biochem as my major since I'm taking all the required classes for that concentration anyway.
     
  6. shaggybill

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    Obviously, you should do whatever you think you would enjoy the most, but if you want to get into med school for sure, you might want to consider taking on an easier major given your past grades. If you do in fact do poorly in upper division chem classes, then you will pretty much shoot any chance of getting into med school. Those grades might not show up on your transcript, but you have to report them on your AMCAS regardless.
     
  7. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    pchem isnt that bad.. the professor has a lot to do with how pchem goes. i liked my prof so much i took pchem3 after pchem 1 and 2 and got an A in all three classes.
    take to chem majors in your school who are seniors or juniors and see what they think...
    get your depression under control and get your life a little bit more in order and hopefully youll be ok :)
     
  8. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    You have a bunch of issues that you need to address before you can even think about planning your life:
    • Get your depression under control before you make long-term decisions
    • Figure out why you did so poorly in your coursework. If anyone did well in those classes, your failure is not due to the fact that the course was demanding.
    • Figure out what you want from your college experience. With the high cost of education, you need a master-plan for why you are taking course and what you expect to accomplish from your educational experience.

    Wanting to have something to "do" if you "don't get into medical school" is not a sound reason for undertaking a course of study. With your poor performance, you are closing doors for yourself and thus you need to address the issues that are keeping you from performing your best. To continue "just to graduate" is not going to get you to your goals.

    The problems that you describe are not things that you can just "solve" while attempting expensive and demanding coursework. Until you get the basics mastered, you are going to continue to have problems with failure. You have to remember that "do-overs" don't really happen in academia. You get one chance not to ruin your undergraduate experience.

    Make sure that you stop "floundering" and get on a solid path to success. Right now, looking for a major is not the root of your problems. Your academic skills and abilities are not sound enough to keep going on. If you get your underlying problems under sound control, you can make some realistic decisions that can bring you success.

    You need to get an unofficial transcript and see exactly what is on your transcript. Just to say that something won't show up doesn't mean very much. You need to KNOW what's on your transcript period.
     
  9. shiftingmirage

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    Is your concern just the orgo grade? At my school, after organic, there isn't another organic or organic like class. We had p-chem (all math, no orgo) and and advanced inorganic class, and an instrumental class. So no orgo after that, so if the only thing holding you back is your difficulty in organic, I say go for it.
     
  10. Rabbit36

    Rabbit36 Lagomorphadelic
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    Consider the possibility of taking a semester off to realize what you want and how to best deal with your depression. I'm not suggesting your depression is debilitating or anything, but you don't want to risk any more bad grades because you spiral for a few weeks again next semester. There's no penalty for taking a semester off, and it can save you a lot of anguish from not being able to just 'kick' your depression. Chemistry and medical school both require a lot of commitment and drive, so depression very easily gets in the way. If you think you've got a great handle on yourself and are excited with life and motivated at this point, then work hard and do chemistry if that's what you like. If you're just scratching the surface of your depression, maybe give it a little while to realize what brings it on in you and what may help. It's good you're seeing a therapist, there's too much of a stigma associated with it (especially in medicine), but also don't expect it to be a magic bullet. It's up to you, they're just there to listen.

    From the perspective of just trying to get into med school, chemistry obviously isn't the easiest major to do really well in, and schools really just care about GPA whether you're sociology or biology or chemistry. If your overwhelming priority is to go to med school, think of what you have to do in order to end up with a high GPA and how to make the rest of your app great. If you put it in your mind that you will go to medical school no matter what, then chances are you will, even if it's after several cycles. I understand that everyone sort of needs a backup plan in the back of their mind, but you need to be really committed to make it through the process.
     
  11. udlax16

    udlax16 ^lax=lacrosse
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    I'm a BS Chem major and I came into college thinking that it wasn't going to be that. :rolleyes: I'm a sophomore now and am half way through the chem classes I need to take. It's hard and wasn't the best choice looking back in terms of giving myself a better chance at a really high GPA. But if you like the things you will learn, gen. chem, orgo, Pchem, Biochem and whatever else then go for it. Just pick something you enjoy and are good at. Good luck with everything.
     
  12. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    it does depend on how much chemistry makes sense for you.. my chemistry grades have all been A's or A-'s and i probably would not have had such a high gpa with other majors only because chemistry just makes sense to me...
    if you like it and truly enough it,give it a try. i knew i needed to be a chemistry major because i needed to get chemistry out of my system so i can move on to fully enjoying medicine.. if that makes sense. this semester with my last chemistry class ever i have realized that chemistry is finally out of my system. im ready to move on :)
     
  13. Chemdude

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    I majored in chemistry because I knew that it would be easier than biology(for me, at least). Most of the people who majored in biology got stuck in the huge weed-out courses...I didn't want that to ever happen to me. Besides, I didn't find introductory bio courses interesting.

    Organic chemistry doesn't "represent" chemistry...it's sort of the "awkward" branch of chemistry. Some people suck at O-chem but are awesome at PChem, anal, etc.

    My professor once told me:
    The creative study organic, the geniuses study pchem, the innovators study inorganic, and the anal-retentive study anal.

    I wouldn't give up on chemistry just because I was doing bad in o-chem...give chemistry a chance.
     
  14. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    :love:

    agreed! its a lot of fun.. really...:thumbup:
     
  15. chemnerd89

    chemnerd89 In it for the lulz
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    Yes......Join Us.....
     
  16. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    and the professors are super nice!! hehe there is something about chemistry people that makes them bond. at least that has always been my experience. physics is similar. maybe it has to do with how tiny chemistry and physics major classes usually are. in my school there are usually under 10 chemistry majors per year, even less for physics.
     
  17. iA-MD2013

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    I love my chemistry :love:
     
  18. Chemist0157

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    I'll graduate with a chem degree so I have to lobby for it! Organic is a unique class as far as the chemistry ones go. I would think your experience and success in general chem/university chem would help you gauge whether you should continue further with chemistry or not.

    Personally, I love it. I like biology too (have it as a minor), but I enjoy solving problems and using knowledge in applications instead of just memorizing. Not to say there's no applications of biology; this is just my experience at my undergrad.

    Anyways, you should do it because it's cool. :D 'Nuff said.
     
  19. chemnerd89

    chemnerd89 In it for the lulz
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    Pun? If so, well played.
     
  20. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    HAHAH wow so not intentional but still awesome
     
  21. DrReo

    DrReo "Thread Necromancer"
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    That's hilarious. I've enjoyed my chemistry degree. However, I would like of tried a business related degree or engineering before buckling down with strict science courses... Look at all your options..
     
  22. NAVYLABTECH08

    NAVYLABTECH08 DA DOCTOR IS HERE
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    How can you take organic w/o general chemistry. At my school, Gen chem was a prereq for O. cHm. anyways, I would not choose either degree. I would choose a degree like basketweaving or something easy to assure my GPA was 4.0. Next, I would only take the science pre-reqs and mcat and go into med school. Engineering or physics, are you insane?Just my opinion!
     
  23. drpsycho

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    Thanks for all the responses. You've all been pretty helpful. Another reason why I'd concentrate in chemistry/biochemistry is because I'm already comfortable with the department. I know many (most) chemistry professors and spend a good amount of time in the chemistry building. I'm close to the people in my lab group and I know that I can get plenty of help as long as I ask. But I guess I should be realistic and declare something much easier and that doesn't require much thinking since I'm just not smart enough for science. I thought about doing business, but I know little to nothing about the subject. Another problem is that I don't have much classes that aren't biology or chemistry so I haven't fulfilled ANY other concentration requirements since I've been mostly focusing on premed prereqs and the chemistry requirements...I'd have to start all over next semester if I do something like economics, which I haven't even taken the introductory course for it. Granted there aren't many requirements so I could still do it, but I really have no interest in economics. If I don't do chemistry or biochemistry, I really have no idea what else I can do. I'm somewhat interested in International Relations, but there are tons of requirements none of which I have fulfilled, and I have no experience in taking any reading intensive class. I know I should major in something I enjoy, but I don't really enjoy reading tons of books and then writing about them, you know? It's just not my thing. Although I could probably force myself to do it if I really wanted to.
     
  24. T12

    T12
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    Chemistry's the best.

    At my school there are like 10 faculty members and we're all family. Everyone works together to get through the tough classes. Small cohorts go through all their classes together and rely on each other, which, if I'm not mistaken, is a strategy medical schools encourage.

    This is in contrast to the Bio classes at my school, in which the 70 pre-med kids all work alone and absolutely refuse to help anyone but themselves. Boo to that.

    Just my experience, of course.
     
  25. chemnerd89

    chemnerd89 In it for the lulz
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    Exactly. At my school, nearly all the pre-meds are bio majors. We few, the chemistry majors, stick together.
     
  26. NurWollen

    NurWollen Strong with the Force
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    :laugh::laugh::laugh:

    On another note, is that typical that bio majors get stuck in huge weed out classes? At my school general biology I is a big weed out class, but all premeds have to take that regardless of whether or not they are bio majors. I think it all depends on the professor. One of my roommates transferred from a much more well-known school after take General Bio I, got a high A, then transferred to my current, lesser known school, and got struggled for a C in Bio II.
     
  27. 229141

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    If you love chemistry go be a chemistry major.

    Regardless of what anyone says, you will have a lower GPA as a chemistry major than if you were to be a biology major. I personally liked the biology major more than chemistry, but it is not as bad. Chemistry also requires Calc based physics, which could screw you up on the MCAT since they test it based off of algebra based physics. How is your math skills? I don't mind all the math I just find it a pain in the ass while you have to take other classes that are more relevant. Also watch out for classes like instrumental chem..its a 5 cred class here that kills most peoples GPAs. Like others have said, TONS depends on the professor.


    Cliffs: Bio Major GPA > Chem Major GPA
     
  28. chemnerd89

    chemnerd89 In it for the lulz
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    Not necessarily :thumbdown:
     
  29. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    so not true!! if i were a bio major my gpa would be so much lower. chemistry faculty help people out.. professors see the hard work so much more easily in small, albeit hard, chemistry classes and reward people for it. as mentioned previously, you usually go through your tough classes with a small group of people and you stick together, work on problem sets together, etc. also! in bio its all reading and memorization but in chemistry its problem sets and exams, and usually the problem sets prepare you well for exams. i am not a reading intensive person and i hate writing papers. i will take problem sets and exams any day over papers.
     
  30. jaguarms

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    Far too many premeds have been in your circumstance.

    And as for your specific situation, I see quite a bit of myself. So here's my advice:

    1. TAKE YOUR TIME! There is absolutely no requirement that you graduate in under four years. So many premeds feel that if they don't graduate "on time" (whatever that means), that they will be a failure. Having worked in a freshman orientation program at my university, I know for a fact that the students who pressured themselves to take on too many units at a time were the ones to drop from premed first.

    2. Not everyone knows by their sophomore year what major they really want to be. If you find that business management is really cool, then do it! Better yet, MINOR in biology or biochemistry so you can keep yourself sane. I know a guy in Harvard med right now that was a philosophy major. And you know what? He loved it and got a great GPA as a result. Even better, his premed class grades were boosted because he was happy with what he chose.

    3. There is nothing wrong with being a part-time student. If you have to deal with depression, then take time to take care of YOURSELF first.

    4. MAKE (don't hope for!) time to exercise. Clear your schedule. MAKE time to work in an internship with a pharma company that you love, and to FIND your spiritual grounding. I know that when I was depressed in high school, finding my faith in God and challenging myself physically (with running and weight lifting) transformed my ability to work and cope with stress.

    5. Don't be scared of the "dreaded W." I have a close friend who told me that I "failed" when I was forced to drop a class with a "W" mid-semester. But you know what? No grade is worth being etched permanently into your transcript when IT DOES NOT REPRESENT YOUR BEST WORK. I have had to drop with a "W" more than one time, and yet I am still getting interviews at absolute dream schools. I attained a higher GPA than my negative friend who told me that dropping was failing. And you know what? It was worth it.

    6. Don't feel that you have to take every class consecutively, in sequence, and on track. Having been a TA for chemistry at my university, I know for a fact that the curve is often more difficult in premed classes done "on sequence." What I'm saying is that the mean for a midterm in the fall organic chemistry 1 class was higher than the mean for the spring or the summer organic chemistry 1. Why? Because more premeds take the first class in the fall and the second one in the spring. The students that are "off-track" don't have to compete against the type-A "wave" of prehealth wackos. And what does that translate into? Less stress for you. (NOTE: This doesn't apply to classes that are on an absolute scale. Good luck there!)

    7. If you are going to retake a hard class in the chemistry sequence, remember that your final grade is going to be a reflection of the amount of time you put into the class. Many professors advocate studying three hours outside of class for every hour of lecture. Try that strategy yourself, and you will notice a difference. Also, don't wait until the weekend before to study for a midterm.

    8. Best of luck in being premed! It's a hard path but a wonderful experience. Remember to take care of yourself during that time: physically, mentally, and spiritually. It's all about learning to find balance and learning to know yourself better in the end.
     
  31. 229141

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    Meh, ok good point you're right. I can memorize facts pretty easily so bio's always came to very naturally...but I guess some people do better in chem type classes.
     
  32. iTool

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    .
     
    #31 iTool, Dec 21, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  33. MDman87

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    For what it's worth, I would be a chem major if I had it to do over again. Instead, like almost everyone else, I followed the status quo and majored in biology. Within a couple of years I realized how much I enjoyed chemistry, but I felt like it was too late to change
     
  34. T12

    T12
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    From the sound of it, you and I may know each other, haha.
     
  35. RoyBasch

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    Maybe something is wrong with my mind, but this is what I read when I first saw this post. :laugh: [might have been good not to abbreviated "analytical"]

    My two cents: I started out as a chemistry major but it was too hard for me to maintain a high GPA so when I committed to being pre-med I switched to Biology. I was equally intellectually interested in both. But as other posters have said, you should major in what you like best and what you feel you are personally strongest in as your interest and ability is what will ultimately allow you to do well grade-wise. But make no bones about it, the medical school adcoms look at GPA and science GPA in particular with great scrutiny.
    -Roy
     
  36. funkydrmonkey

    funkydrmonkey They Call Me Dr. Funkmonk
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    Bad Idea:

    2 Words:

    Physical Chemistry:oops::(:scared::barf:
     
  37. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    aww pchem isnt bad.. its just more math-y
     
  38. T12

    T12
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    Hardest part of P-Chem is getting there. When the pre-req list contains 5 semesters of Chemistry, 4 semesters of Calculus and 2 semesters of Physics, a class is bound to get a bad rep.

    Well, I guess the hardest parts could be the tests...those too.
     
  39. Chemdude

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    Well, I try to degrade analytical chemistry as much as possible. That's why I call it anal chem. It's the most horrible thing that ever happened to me...sitting in a dim lab and doing experiments for hours, over and over, just so my experimental pH can be close enough to the actual pH.

    Analytical is my pchem...I can't wait to take Instrumental Analytical Chemistry(sarcasm), that's why I'm taking it in my last semester of UG.
     

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