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organic chemistry in 1 month!

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by nolahomeboy, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. nolahomeboy

    nolahomeboy New Member
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    Hi everyone. I'm new here... :D

    I'm taking organic chemistry at a community college starting in less than a month. Its my first course since I graduated from Tulane in 2003, and my first science course since 2001. I took chemistry in 1999-2000.

    I am very motivated to do well, but I'm also worried that I wont be prepared to excel in the course. Should I review anything specifically from chemistry so that I'm up to speed when the class starts, or should the first few days give me all of the background info I need?

    I'm also taking biochemistry, so I have a similar question there. If you were me, how would you go into this situation?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. ClosetNerd

    ClosetNerd Senior Member
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    Your taking both at the same time?

    Learn some nomenclature now and it will be a big help when you start.
     
  4. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Hi there,
    If you can get copies of the course syllabi at this point, it may be helpful for you to plan your daily study schedule. Also, as another poster pointed out, learning a bit of terminology is not bad either. Speak with your prospective professions and see if you can get the syllabi or at least a course outline for these classes. These give you and idea of the pace and of the main topics.

    I would not recommend getting the texts and just reading. That is largely a waste of time. Just remember that Biochemistry is the chemistry of organic macromolecules. Be thoroughly familiar with catalysis, equilibrium, acid-base and buffering systems.

    Organic Chemistry is the chemistry of carbon-containing compounds. The key to doing well in organic is being very organized and systemic about your learning. You HAVE to work on some aspect of this course daily and your memorization skills need to be sharp.

    Good luck!
    njbmd :)
     
  5. AlberttheGator

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    Gen Chem and Orgo are totally different. Success in orgo doesnt hinge on success in gen chem.
     
  6. I disagree. Remembering and understanding the basics of bonding mechanisms will be helpful. When I took O-Chem last go around (1998?), the visualization of the molecules and bonds was key for helping me memorize everything - and I aced the course.

    OP, if memories of chemistry are a bit fuzzy, then it would be good to review your chem basics. I am actually in the same boat. I only took the minimum series's in everything in my bio degree, so its O-Chem and Physics all over again come September (plus Calc, to look good)... :eek: I bought a General Chem book this summer that I am reviewing until classes start.
     
  7. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    I agree with talking to the instrucor before class starts. I hope you kept your gen chem book to review concepts and things that orgo might not be too specific on. I was lucky in the fact that my gen chem and orgo books were done by the same publisher. A bunch of the pictures and examples were the same, with obviously more detailed explanations in the gen chem version, which made it a lot easier if I got stuck.
    It also depends on the instructor. My instructors for orgo I and II were very interested in giving students new software to use and websites to check out for structures and diagramming.

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. hermit

    hermit Senior Member
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    Off topic, but...if you are still in NO...what about UNO (or Tulane)? Organic and Biochem are key classes and will look a lot better to an adcom coming from a 4 year school instead of a CC...
     
  9. rcwhite007

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    Agreed. I would look at a senior level. Most medshools tell you upfront that a senior university is prefered

    If there is a couple of things I will tell you to get a basic understanding of:

    Understand and review

    Electronegativity
    Resonance
    Acids & Base reactions
    Nucleophiles & Electrophiles

    Once I got a good grasp of these, the course was CAKE!

    There is this book by David Klein called, " Organic Chemistry as a Second Language" This was a life saver. It puts it all into "easy" terms!
     
  10. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there
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    I completely disagree. The OP already has a degree, so obviously they can handle senior-level classes.

    I say stick with the cc class and follow njbmd's advice.
     
  11. Skillbot

    Skillbot Junior Member
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    It could have been a money issue. I found that it was alot cheaper to do my organic chem at a the local community college, unfort it was also much harder according to a friend who took it at a 4 year.
     
  12. MedSchoolFool

    MedSchoolFool Shake Zula
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    To the OP...The truth is that the degree of difficulty or ease you have with O-Chem or Biochem to a very large extent will depend on how "good" your professor is at explaining them. These are tough classes, no doubt, but a professor who knows how to organize and explain the material will do wonders for you understanding.

    The textbooks I've seen on these subjects tend to fall into two categories: 1)Overwrought and full of so much information that one cannot separate the academic wheat from the chaff, & 2)Glosses the information too lightly so you are left with lots of unanswered questions.

    But I would see no problem with jumping right into O-Chem, even though it has been several years since your last science class. I think that most professors teach their subjects as if the class has no background in it whatsoever, anyway.

    Just pray that you have good professors, study deligently, memorize like crazy (especially reactions) and you'll do fine. Of course, aim for A's. If you feel that one subject is taking away from your ability to well in the other, then drop it. Hopefully you will figure this out early on during the free drop/add period so that you will not have a W on your transcript. But a case of a W here or there is not a big deal, in my opinion.
     
  13. scpod

    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Another poster mentioned that the particular professor will make a difference and it really can make a HUGE difference. However, all the general chem you really need to know can be found in the first chapter of your organic text for the most part. Just realize this: you need to know everything in that chapter really, really well before you can go on. In fact, organic (although it doesn't have much math) is really similar to learning mathematics in that you have to know the basics well in order to do well on the other chapters. Every chapter builds off of something you have learned before. Take a lot of time on the nomenclature; know it forwards and backwards. It'll make the future chapters easier. Organic is very visual, and the use of models is highly suggested. Pictures in the book can be confusing when you start trying to figure out which atoms are in the equitorial or axial plane, for example. Finally, pay attention in your lab. There are questions on the MCAT that describe an experiment and ask you questions about it. If you remember that saponification lab really well, for instance, it'll make the test easier. Good Luck!
     
  14. nolahomeboy

    nolahomeboy New Member
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    Thanks everyone!

    I'm going to check out the used bookstore this weekend to see if I can find a used Chemistry book to review some of these things. Hopefully I can find one by the same publisher as my organic chem textbook. Honestly, I remember the concepts you guys are talking about extremely vaguely at best. I need to raise my comfort level a little before class starts.

    As for the CC vs. 4-year university thing, I was concerned about this, and almost moved across the country so I could be closer to home and afford a 4-year university, but i decided that med schools understand that I work full-time and need to be able to afford the classes I'm taking. UVA and Tulane said CC was fine. A former Stanford admissions official said it wouldnt be a wise thing to do, so fine. Guess I'm not going to Stanford.

    And no, I'm living in DC, not New Orleans, these days.

    Thanks again!
     
  15. MedSchoolFool

    MedSchoolFool Shake Zula
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    Hi again. I just want to add on the good professor note that you should check out www.ratemyprofessor.com. This is a free site that lists honest student reactions to different professors. Check to see if your school is a part of this web site.

    Word of warning...you have to take the critiques on ratemyprofessor with a grain of salt. Sometimes people didn't study hard enough and instead of blame themselves they will blame the professor, thereby giving them a bad review. Just look for the overall pattern...whether it is positive or negative. Any time I took a professor who was rated negatively on ratemyprofessor I lived to regret it...(but sometimes there are no other professors available for a certain class in a certain semester)

    And NO! I do not work for the website. Just a fan. Check it out. Good luck.
     
  16. mledonne

    mledonne New Member

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    Orgo is not that hard if you take it in with small bites and NOT large ones. Meaning study a little each day, make flashcards, and read! You CAN NOT cram for Organic...it will not work. Keep up like others here have said and you will do well.

    I just finished two semesters of orgo at a CC, with a brilliant professor who was a protege of Pauling. Got two B's, for the simple reason of missing classes because my wife had TWO major back surgeries, one per semester. Oh did I tell you I also have two kids 5 & 3 at the time and work full time. Oh one last thing, I last took orgo in Undergrad...1990!

    You can do this...don't sweat..just work hard and be positive.

     
  17. Truth_seeker

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    nolahomeboy, I totally agree with this post seeing as how I just wrapped up Organic I this summer in 6 weeks. Your first few chapters are a review of some basics in general chemistry such as elctron fields, quantum numbers and spin, acid/base chemistry, some electrochemistry. Then you'll jump right into organic molecules such as Alkanes...nomenclature (tons of it b/c this is the foundation for all the others), organization (conformations), and finally reactions. I'd say the reactions were hardest for me. Then you'll move onto Alkenes (C=C). This builds upon alkanes but WAY more reactions because you have a double bond as a functional group. Then alkynes which really aren't too bad in that the reactions are somewhat fewer. If you've got Alkenes down...you have alkynes down mostly. Then lastly probably some aromatic reactions. That I'd say sums up the whole semester. What worked for me was model kits and notecards that I made up. Put stuff in your own words that way you can make the subject yours. For instance, in an acid/base reaction...a strong base REALLY wants hydrogens. A strong acid REALLY wants to give up the hydrogen such as HCl. Those were straight from notecards I made in relation to reactions in the alkene chapters. Then I listed some of the strong bases that would make an E1 or what reagents made a SN2 favorable over an E2 reaction occur. So stuff like that will help you. Another piece of info. is to read the chapter prior to class. In my organic class, the prof. discouraged us from taking notes b/c her notes were online and per her years of teaching her students did better when they listened, absorbed, and practiced on homework. That's another key...do the homework and more. Get the solutions manual and work the problems at the end of the chapter. It's very much like a math class in that you must practice. Also, join a study group. It helps to vocalize what you learn. There's a connection that's made when you verbalize what you've just learned...(I was a psych. major in undergrad). These are the things that helped me through it. Now I just have to get past Organic II. Good luck. You can do it!
     
  18. A few people mentioned that having a good professor really helps. It probably does, but I don't know that from personal experience. In my O-Chem class, the prof spoke in a very slow and monotone voice and was very unapproachable. When I did make it to this 8 AM class (I think about two or three times the whole quarter), I fell asleep. And I still managed an A in the class. So, my lesson learned...

    Read the textbook very thoroughly and study every day. Because I never went to lecture, I ended up spending a good 3-4 hours every day poring over the textbook. I am a visual learner, so I really enjoyed "meditating" on the molecules and the various rxns for good lengths of time, visualizing exactly what was going on until I understood it - really understanding what's happening is far better than just memorizing. (I found this to be true in Cell Bio too.) If you don't have much of a visual brain, then models probably are a great tool too.

    Its funny, because even though I am writing this for you, OP, it is also a great pep talk to myself in preparation for my O-Chem class this fall... :laugh:

    Good luck! :luck:
     
  19. tdkneo

    tdkneo The Future Dr.Nguyen
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    wow, youre taking biochem and ochem at the same time in the summer session??? my hat goes off to you sir......... :D
     
  20. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    I believe the OP is talking about fall, but I did do Orgo II and Biochem I in the summer. Biggest mistake ever. They only overlapped for like 3 weeks, and I got a B in biochem and a B in Orgo II lab, but my Orgo II lecture grade was dismal(although I suck at organic chem exams - let me look stuff up and I can figure it out. Give me 8-15 part synthesis problems and my brain dies.) suffice it to say I ended up retaking Orgo II in the fall. :(
     
  21. poly800rock

    poly800rock Member
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    i didn't know how to balance a chemical equation until a few months ago and I got a A in orgo. its a completely different beast
     
  22. nolahomeboy

    nolahomeboy New Member
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    I finally started my organic chemistry and biochemistry classes at community college this week. Organic chemistry is off to a good start, but I'm concerned that I'm not ready for Biochemistry. It has been 5 years since my last chemistry or biology class, and I'm not sure I can handle all of this at the same time. I could drop it and take it next summer, but that pushes everything back even further...

    I think I'll go to lecture one more time and then make a decision on that.
     
  23. jumboolia

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    Hello,
    I completed all my pre reqs at UF (4 year university) with the exception of PHysics 1 and chem 2 at a community college back home. I spoke to an advisor here and he indicated that credits from community colleges are frowned upon because they are notriously known for being MUCH MUCH easier. And from the experience of taking classes at both UF and FCCJ (a CC) I can say with certainty that the difficulty of my classes at the CC paled in comparison to the science courses I took at UF. The CC courses were analogous to highschool coursework, perhaps even easier. So take them at your risk, money is a big issue, but I think that for the most part admissions comitees know that the intensity of work at a CC is signifcantly easier.

    furthermore, organic is much different than Gen chem. Personally I hated gen chem. It's so annoying diong all those stiupd calculations and monotonous conversions...organic involes more understanding but there's actually reasons that you can see and draw out to back everything up. I suppose it's up to you, for the most part, people that did well in orgo had also done well in gen chem, but not necessarily the other way around. I would buy the orgo text book for the class in advane and start looking at it, and memorizing the functional groups. Review polarity, acidity, stuff like that too.
     
  24. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    It really depends on the CC you attend. Obviously your experience was that your cc courses were way easier than your university courses, and perhaps that is the case for all Florida CC's, but I know the CC classes in Colorado are just as difficult and in some cases more difficult (ie. most of the math) than the university courses. I've also heard that is the case in California as well. Of course, in reality that disparity exists among universities as well, but that is definitely where the stigma against CC courses has come from. If, however, you live in a state where CC courses are respected by the universities you will most likely be fine for applying to med school with them as well (providing extremely high grades in them - absolutely nothing lower than a B, and only one or two of those with the rest A's).
     
  25. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member
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    I agree, g. chem is totally different than o.chem. I had a really hard time with gen.chem, even with a great professor, and when I took organic I aced both I and II. Yes the professor was also great, but I believe its a personal thing, because I really enjoyed doing those looooong systhesis and retro-synth. I am a very methological person, like a set of rules and to follow them (at least in orgo that is :D ) I like detail and to reach a conclusion to all my problems (in this case to reach a product/s). Also the nomenclature was super easy, its pretty much the same set of rules and memorization. The NMR and IR was by far my favorite/chalenging of the class. I love to decipher(sp) "puzzles" which is kinda how IR/NMR is like...I had a lot of fun in these clsses. So don't be intimidated by what you hear from other students, trust me if I did it (not a super-brain) you can too.

    Just keep up with your home-work and do lots of practice problems and you'll be fine.
     
  26. JamieMac

    JamieMac Elite Member
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    I second this...it is a great site that can at least give you the heads up on a prof. I've put in my two cents on a few profs since I found it to be so helpful myself. It is a must use resource.
     
  27. sistahnik

    sistahnik Senior Member
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    Hey everyone!! This advice has helped me as I will also be starting organic I in 1 week (fall semester). I feel ready but not so ready. :scared: I have just heard so many stories about the class that I refused to ask anyone else about orgo, but this thread has given me some hope of getting through it. Thanks!! :)

    P.S. I also second the motion to check out ratemyprofessor.com!!
     
  28. thoffen

    thoffen Member
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    I've found so far that reviewing for the MCAT through my examkrackers book before learning in class has helped me tremendously. When I learn them in class, I seem to have a much better understanding coming out of it. Pre-reading the textbook is not great because it goes into a lot of detail you're usually better off not knowing.
     
  29. little_late_MD

    little_late_MD Ready To Jump
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    That's a little odd to hear, as Community Colleges in Florida are required by statute to have a similar content basis and pedagogy to their University counterparts in the state. The reason for this is that CC course credits need to be transferrable to a Florida University under the Florida Statewide Articulation Agreement (2+2 law) down here.
     
  30. Truth_seeker

    Truth_seeker Member
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    Totally agree with you on this issue. Here in Raleigh, NC, Wake Tech is not easy. I'm speaking of the science department. I've taken Biology and gen. chem II there. Neither were easy and I'd say just as hard as my classes over a NCSU. Not to mention, Wake Tech is a feeder into the UNC system. On the flip side, if you take an 090 class, you're going to get remedial level students. But as you move up, you typically encounter better, more focused students.
     

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