Overly ambitious, I know. But I still need ADVICE!!!

Lucca

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How do you plan on devoting significant amounts of time to ECs while gunning for a 3.8 gpa in 19/21 hour semesters?
 
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tavokeri9

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Well, I'll still be involved with school clubs and shadowing/volunteering (I'll keep doing it throughout the semester). It'll just be a year-round thing along with the continuous studying I guess...
 

Lucca

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Are you used to performing at high-levels over long periods of time already? I'd say it's definitely doable but extremely dangerous and I would advise against it. Think of the extra money/time you spend in undergrad as an investment in your mental health and in the "less-tangible" parts of your application. Your course-loads are exclusively science (besides that one English class in the summer) which, I hope, means you love hard-science - why not pursue research? You will not be able to commit to a meaningful research experience in a 19 or 21 hour semester. I promise you. 10 hours a week doesn't seem like much of a commitment at the outset but unless your courses require only 20 minutes of studying a day I don't see how you could maintain a healthy academic, emotional, and mental balance. Sustainable for one semester, but not 3.
 
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From personal experience it will be VERY hard to study for the MCAT with this schedule unless you are a natural at standardized testing. You have to treat it just like another class, and it can become overwhelming. I ended up having to retake after I began working full time and studied after work (I am taking two gap years) and on the weekends, but at least it didn't compete with homework.

Personally, the schedule looks a bit heavy. I took a lot of 18+ credit semesters but usually that included internships and research, so a bit more flexible without added work and study loads. It's totally up to you though, if you can be honest with yourself and still say that you can do it, then it's possible. However you can still do the things you want to but instead do them during the summers between the 4 years of UG.
 
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If your GPA slips, you can bet that med schools won't be impressed by you graduating early. Why not aim do graduating a semester early? You can have a more manageable course load, have more time for ECs, still save some money, and can use the semester after you graduate for a meaningful activity before you apply over the summer.
 
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The coursework in itself might be manageable but combined with studying for the MCAT and time for volunteering/shadowing experience it sounds miserable. I've handled a pretty busy schedule at times and it's hard to not start resenting everything! You have to keep your sanity in mind.
I don't think schools would view a packed schedule as necessarily a bad thing, especially if your grades were good during this time.
Just don't over-commit yourself.
 
Nov 6, 2013
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You can do it... Are your summers split into two sessions, because I would definitely advise against taking 13 units in one summer. lol 9 is definitely pushing it really hard, if it is one session. I assume that if you went to the trouble of figuring out how to graduate in 3 years, you have also taken care to parse out any time conflicts ahead of time?

I'm taking 9 different courses this semester for 23 units, including a couple of extra curriculars. With the exception of my Social Psych class and my elective, all of my courses are reading and writing intensive and take up a lot of time. I am doing a clinical based major, so even though my fieldwork is 1 unit, it takes a lot of time and resources... and a couple of my classes exceed the reasonable time requirement for amount of homework involved (2 hours studying for every hour in class). My schedule is full until Saturday and I still end up missing sleep and studying on Sunday.

Despite planning, things will still take more time than you think they will. You still have to worry about eating, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, budget, etc., too. My rule of thumb is that if I get tired at a point while MAKING my schedule, I have to think harder about my time commitments.

Last semester I took 21 units, did a lot of side projects, worked 2 days a week teaching a class, and it was a good magnitude easier than this semester. Just saying that your mileage will definitely vary depending on your teachers and how much you care about what you are learning.

Even though I care a lot about almost all my classes, I feel that I don't have the time to go as deeply as I would like into particular areas in the textbooks such as checking citations, going on research excursions etc.

Anyway, it's possible. If you can come up with a good schedule that your gut tells you that you can handle, you will be fine as long as you follow-through from the very start and constantly keep track of your engagements. If push comes to shove, it just means sacrificing sleep. Do give yourself a fun day with no commitments because you will probably need it.

Edit: I don't see how you can study for MCAT at the same time, tbh. You can try and integrate it with your studies in related areas? You could just take your MCAT after you graduate. I don't see why you are so aversed to a gap year? You could take Sociology for the new MCAT, study really hard, do good work during ECs, and have free time to pursue your interests.
 
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Nov 6, 2013
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why not pursue research? You will not be able to commit to a meaningful research experience in a 19 or 21 hour semester. I promise you.
I totally agree with this. The reason I am taking so many units is not to graduate early but get as many things out of the way as possible so I can be more committed to scientific research and ECs in the upcoming semesters. I have been setting these things in motion during my spare time and will be starting a lot next semester. My course load is going to normalize a lot after this semester.
 

lobo.solo

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What's the rush? Enjoy the ride. I think this is completely unnecessary and it might hurt your performance. Also don't forget about having the time to build meaningful ECs. Many people with good stats aren't successful because their ECs are weak.
 
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Doudline

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I will be delighted reading your update at the end of the next semester about how you now have a 2.0 GPA, no research and no extracurriculars.
 
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OP, plan out your future semesters as you would a long data talk - have contingency plans. You need to plan your courses such that, if necessary, you know exactly what to drop such that you can still stay on track/push back by a semester/push back for a year.

As far as the course load, depending on your institution, it may not be so bad. In fact, my best semesters were those when I took the hardest course loads. As a result of feeling as though I won't have any time, I became very good at getting to work right away and not wasting time. In the end, I actually had more free time while taking a harder course load. If you have a procrastination streak like I did, you may find that this kind of stepping up of your load will benefit you in the long run.

That said, you have to keep a close eye on yourself and realize that it is okay to fail to reach your goal of graduating early. The worst thing that could happen is if you start to slip but are then to proud or stubborn to follow through on those contingency plans I mentioned earlier.
 

darkjedi

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Or you can take a gap year to do the things you like. It's not worth it to crowd out your schedule and risk damaging your GPA for merely graduating a year early.
 
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Or you can take a gap year to do the things you like. It's not worth it to crowd out your schedule and risk damaging your GPA for merely graduating a year early.
I agree. I wouldn't take genetics, organic chemistry, and physics together with other upper level science classes unless your school is really easy and grade inflation is rampant (and even then, the goal should be to actually retain the material).

It is possible, but not advisable and not fun. I took 22 credit hours one semester and loaded it with many upper level science credits. To make matters worse, I also worked. The semester was pure hell. I did manage to keep an A average, but I was very miserable and sleep deprived. Your situation sounds less chaotic, but still not something I would ever attempt based on my experiences.
 

GUH

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You will die. This is a very typical schedule for the dude who talks big about being pre-med but ends up not making it. Summer school is a great idea but your semesters are too heavy.
I will be delighted reading your update at the end of the next semester about how you now have a 2.0 GPA, no research and no extracurriculars.
agreed 100%
 

Lucca

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As far as the course load, depending on your institution, it may not be so bad. In fact, my best semesters were those when I took the hardest course loads. As a result of feeling as though I won't have any time, I became very good at getting to work right away and not wasting time. In the end, I actually had more free time while taking a harder course load. If you have a procrastination streak like I did, you may find that this kind of stepping up of your load will benefit you in the long run.

That said, you have to keep a close eye on yourself and realize that it is okay to fail to reach your goal of graduating early. The worst thing that could happen is if you start to slip but are then to proud or stubborn to follow through on those contingency plans I mentioned earlier.
This. I believe the saying goes: All it takes to achieve great things is a plan and not quite enough time. Still, I think it's more meaningful for the OP to rack up that time/workload in other commitments besides classes.

Here's my main reason why: If and when you get into medical school you will spend anywhere from 6 to 12 years of your life being sleep deprived, overworked, power-studying for standardized tests; the rest of your life will then be dedicated to learning nothing but medicine, medicine, medicine.

Do you really want to start now, in the prime of your youth? Live life Sisyphus, that boulder isn't going anywhere.
 

kekes

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Medical schools will be impressed by your course load if you do well or if you can explain why you did not do so well. That being said, Take as much time as you need before applying & enjoy being an undergrad to the fullest. There's no other time in your life like it. I had one semester sophomore year that was somewhat insane (biochemistry, calc, genetics, advanced o chem, & golf) and this period of time went completely unmentioned during my interviews. I did well that semester, but it was much less interesting than other parts of my app. Every situation differs but I hope you realize it's not a race.
 
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mvenus929

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You want to take that courseload, and still take the MCAT on time to matriculate Fall 2015? You'd also need to make sure that you finished your undergrad classes in time to start med school. It's not going to happen. You will need to take some sort of gap year, whether it's doing TfA or something else. In that event, you'd want to take the MCAT in 2016 and matriculate in 2017, because you certainly won't be able to study for the MCAT with that schedule.

Spread it out, take an extra semester, or recognize that you're going to need time between undergrad in med school. You'll be way too burnt out to go straight through.
 
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tavokeri9

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You want to take that courseload, and still take the MCAT on time to matriculate Fall 2015? You'd also need to make sure that you finished your undergrad classes in time to start med school. It's not going to happen. You will need to take some sort of gap year, whether it's doing TfA or something else. In that event, you'd want to take the MCAT in 2016 and matriculate in 2017, because you certainly won't be able to study for the MCAT with that schedule.

Spread it out, take an extra semester, or recognize that you're going to need time between undergrad in med school. You'll be way too burnt out to go straight through.
No, I won't be going to med school directly (in Fall 2015). I was planning to take the mcat september 2014, graduate UG may 2015 and join med school fall 2016...
 

Doudline

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If you hate your undergrad experience, you need to figure out why and how to fix the problem, not try to rush out of it. Your course of action sounds quite immature tbh.
 
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