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Northwestern vs. Loyola Chicago post-bacc

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rainandsleep

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Chicago post-bacc students, please share your wisdom!

I'm a first-year student (taking chemistry and physics) in Northwestern's post-bacc program, and a combination of several factors has me seriously considering transferring to Loyola's program for my second year (organic chemistry and biology). Below are my thoughts/concerns/questions- any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Organic chemistry at Northwestern is notoriously difficult and the exams do not fairly test what is learned. The rigor of NU classes is supposedly going to be beneficial when studying for the MCAT- has anyone found this to be true? Would I be worse off in the future if I took classes at Loyola instead? In addition, the course evaluations for biology made it clear that the teaching for that class leaves much to be desired.

The advising at Northwestern is basically non-existent. There is a pre-med adviser for post-bacc students, but I have gotten more clarity regarding things like research, volunteering, and scheduling my MCAT test date from SDN. Loyola seems to have a much more supportive environment, and the committee letter of recommendation sounds like a wonderful bonus.

My concerns about transferring to Loyola:
- The cost. I work full time at Northwestern, so I get a hefty tuition discount on classes that are cheaper than Loyola's to begin with.
- Northwestern offers evening classes, while it sounds like Loyola only offers classes during the day.
I also wonder if it would look "bad" to have transferred post-bacc programs when it comes time for orgo.

I have found a few threads with similar discussions, but all are several years old (and Northwestern's program still seems to be finding its footing...). Any insights would be appreciated!
 

leric90

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Northwestern might be more difficult but loyola is more cut throat in the sense that there are very limited in the number of A's they give out.
 

gimmeshelter

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I did exactly what you're considering, and I'm happy to answer any questions you have. (I'm going to vet school in the fall, however, so the only thing I can't speak to is MCAT preparedness.) I'm really happy with my decision and would do it again in a heartbeat. I was never in the formal post-bacc program at NU, because I didn't see the benefit (a certificate?) versus just taking the classes as a nondegree student. I also took my classes at Loyola as a nondegree student. Anyway, I started on the normal track at NU, taking BIO170 over the summer then taking chemistry and physics for a year. Nobody better than Ott for chemistry, so that was a great decision for me. But physics at NU, as you may know, can be unpleasant. This is what initially got me thinking about another school. At Loyola, you can choose your professor -- there are simply more classes from which to choose, since you're mixed in with the undergrads. I felt trapped by physics at NU -- it was Schmidt or nothing. My main motivation, however, was the biology program. Hands-down, Loyola has better professors, better lab facilities (seriously, beautiful), and better curriculum for a pre-health student. I had plenty of friends who stayed on at NU, and my conversations with them, comparing experiences, confirmed this. While I was dissecting a new species weekly, they were manipulating frustrating and outdated computer prgrams that they'll never touch again. I do know that NU is trying to improve the lab experience ... in fact, they hired my (awesome) lab TA from Loyola. Avoiding Coddens, however much I might have learned in his class, was just a bonus. I had a fantastic (FANTASTIC) orgo professor at Loyola. Loved the class, learned a ton, got a recommendation out of it. Organic chemistry is tough anywhere, but it was pretty painless at Loyola. I had additional motivations for switching to Loyola (scheduling, availability of certain upper-level prereqs I needed, etc.) that helped me make my decision, and your factors may vary. Based solely on biology and organic chemistry, I'd say Loyola is far and away your better choice. I came back to NU for biochem (scheduling worked better) this past fall, and I did my undergrad there, so don't get me wrong -- I have much love for my Wildcats. In this situation, Loyola was simply the better choice for me. I applied to 6 schools, was accepted to 5 and wait listed at one ... so I don't think the change bothered admissions committees. If you have other specific questions or want professor recommendations, don't hesitate to ask. Good luck!
 

gimmeshelter

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Also: Not sure what the above poster is referring to about limited As? Bigger classes would mean more As, I think, when there's a curve involved. And Loyola's standard cutoff for an A in the biology department (for non-curved classes) is 3 full percentage points lower than NU's.
 

gimmeshelter

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One more thought: Loyola does have some evening classes -- definitely at least one section of organic. You can log into LOCUS (their CEASAR) as a guest and browse the schedule.
 
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