rephrasing my question on course load amount; did I ruin my chances yet?

Jan 1, 2013
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I had to rephrase my question...I think that I might have screwed myself over in terms of how I scheduled my classes for the past 2 years…
Basically since I was a freshman I would only take 12-13 credits a semester but would just take 1 pre-med req. I didn’t know how much this would hurt my chances until I visited sdn.

I am now currently a junior for the incoming winter semester (for fall I was in my third year but still in sophomore standing) my cGPA is 3.78 and my bcpm is 3.59. I’m scared that I might have screwed myself over with the way that I have scheduled my pre-reqs each semester ): basically when I started college in 2011 I became very sick with gastrointestinal problems, had to be hospitalized multiple times (and also realized that I had a very bad anxiety disorder and had to start therapy and medication) and really only did 12-13 credits per semester, and the course load was not rigorous at all. I took bio 1 and bio 2 respectively in fall and winter and took basic comp, intermediate comp and other gen eds like art history, anthropology, and nutrition (I had first wanted to be a nutrition major). my second year I declared myself a psychology major, and took 14 credits fall 2012. my course load was, once again, not very rigorous…basic chemistry (not gen chem), speech, italian culture, and intro to psych. I juggled two tutoring jobs and hospital volunteering. My one tutoring job did not allow me to have a flexible schedule. I had to hold office hours, a discussion, sit in lecture with students three times a week and have additional tutoring sessions. The following semester I decided to lighten the course load to 12 credits because I was taking general chemistry with lab, behavioral stats (both classes required a lot of work) and history, while working around 16 hrs per week, and got a 4.0.


This fall semester again I took 12 credits with Orgo and lab, developmental psych and sociology (again, only 1 premed class and two ‘easier’ classes, again working two tutoring jobs but now holding a rigorous research position. my gpa for the semester was a 3.78 with a B+ in Orgo.

my parents also pay for my tuition, I work to help pay for it. I don't qualify for financial aid or loans and I have two scholarships; taking a heavier course load will also put more strain on my family financially.


fall 2013 will be my last light course load since I no longer have the one tutoring job...the job did not really allow me to be that flexible with scheduling as I had to be available during various specific time slots during the week, but now since I no longer have that job I am taking 15 credits during winter- physics with lab with three psychology classes to play catch-up with my major. From here on out I will be taking 15 credit-18 credit semesters and doubling up on pre-reqs. I am concerned about what adcoms think, since it took me this long to start 'challenging myself' and if my major psych classes like behavioral stats and developmental psychology will be considered fluff/easy classes (to me they weren't)

I am just wondering now since I took three 12 credit semesters and one 13 credit semester with only one hard science class, how much that will hurt me? If I take heavier course loads in the future will I be okay? thanks again.

Also...for those of you who are wondering about my illnesses and discussing it during the application process, I have IBS and gastroparesis, and had gallstones in the past.

**edit: I only have two semesters of 12 credits. I took 13 credits for my first two semesters freshman year.
 
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Pacna

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I am just wondering now since I took three 12 credit semesters and one 13 credit semester with only one hard science class, how much that will hurt me? If I take heavier course loads in the future will I be okay? thanks again.
I took 12-13 credits per semester every semester in college b/c I came in w/ transfer credits. Nobody ever mentioned it. In fact, I was only ever complimented on my GPA.

Meet the prereqs. Get a good GPA. Graduate. Nobody will care much about the rest.

Edit: Also, nobody's going to give you a pass for your illnesses. I'm personally sorry for you that you had to endure that, but I would never mention any of that to a medical school. Everybody has their challenges. That's part of what a good GPA says: you overcame and didn't make excuses for yourself.

Also, it's usually best to just clarify in your original thread rather than make a new one to help reduce clutter.
 
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Jun 21, 2012
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Edit: Also, nobody's going to give you a pass for your illnesses. I'm personally sorry for you that you had to endure that, but I would never mention any of that to a medical school. Everybody has their challenges. That's part of what a good GPA says: you overcame and didn't make excuses for yourself.
I think this is a bit overblown, and I don't know what you're basing that on.
They don't know you overcame anything if you don't mention it to them, and many prompts on secondary apps lend well to discussion of these issues such that you can discuss them w/out turning your PS into a negative expose of your health. While I would not bring up anything that could be misconstrued as a psychiatric illness (stigmatized and never definitively managed) or anything that is ongoing and suggests that you will not be able to handle medical school, I would feel entirely comfortable bringing up a serious illness that shaped you and/or your educational path, that you have learned from, and that you have actually moved past (either a chronic condition that has now been stabilized for a few years, or an acute condition that has no reason to recur). The OP does not have a bad GPA, so he need not discuss his illness as an excuse for anything.

I do have a chronic illness that at times during my education has not been well managed. I know there are other people on SDN who are in the same boat. The OP should private message one of us or get a reply from someone here on an adcom if he/she has concerns specific to that or to "ok" the way s/he is presenting it in AMCAS/secondaries (if including it at all). Personally, I've never found it to be badly received at an interview for med school or at this point residency (although, I guess I should wait to see which program I match to) -- people always ask how it has shaped me and the way I will practice medicine. It opens the door for a discussion that I would not otherwise be able to initiate and that shows a strength of mine. There have been times when my illness has impacted my education negatively, and you can see it on my transcripts. However, you can also see that those are blips and that I recovered and performed above average at later milestones. Several times when *I* have brought it up out of concern that it would be held against me, the interviewer has assured me that I would not be at the interview if they were concerned and proceeded to disclose having a severe illness him/herself in college or med school. Most people have seemed extremely sympathetic to the fear of being hurt by it and reassuring that it would not be held against me. Interviewers are human. Most of the time. Illnesses are a detriment to an application when it is not convincing that you have recovered/managed them to an extent that you can succeed in medical school, succeed in residency, and later practice in a meaningful capacity.

OP, your prior courseload is fine. A lot of people don't know whether or not they want to go to med school until after they've been in college or even graduated . . . people take all sorts of irregular courseloads in that process. SDN errs on the side of gunner-ism. Yes, getting into med school is difficult, but it's not that ridiculous that you're screwed if you took a light courseload at a period when you may not even have been pre-med. If you have a few semesters of full and rigorous courseload, that serves the purpose of showing an adcom that you can handle med school -- other than that, you can do whatever you want as long as you keep a decent GPA.
 
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Goro

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Compared rto someone who took a more rigorous course load, you might have some difficulties.

With applications being so competitive, the schools you apply to will look for a convenient reason to cull your app, and your course history is one of them. 12 credits/semester is almost part-time. You will need to play up the work history you had while you were going to school. But tutoring doesn't cut it for me.

Sometimes you have to play the hand life dealt you.



I am just wondering now since I took three 12 credit semesters and one 13 credit semester with only one hard science class, how much that will hurt me? If I take heavier course loads in the future will I be okay? thanks again.[/quote]
 
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Compared rto someone who took a more rigorous course load, you might have some difficulties.
With applications being so competitive, the schools you apply to will look for a convenient reason to cull your app, and your course history is one of them. 12 credits/semester is almost part-time. You will need to play up the work history you had while you were going to school. But tutoring doesn't cut it for me.
OP specifically mentioned increasing the courseload from here on out. Taking 3 classes instead of 4 for 2 years is not going to hurt her if she takes 4+ for the subsequent semesters. Given the number of people who go to college and then flounder and get bad grades . . . and are forgiven in the med school application process, I think it's a bit harsh to say the OP will be culled for taking 3 courses a semester for a few semesters. People do a lot worse, and this doesn't even put the OP near the back of the pack with that GPA. Sure, maybe *some* school would dislike it, but I can't imagine it being a pervasive problem.

I also think it means a lot when you say "I didn't qualify for further financial assistance and could not afford to take a heavier courseload," which is what the OP wrote later in the post. People go to community colleges and work like this all the time. If OP hadn't led with the details of being sick, the financial issue would have felt like it carried a lot more weight.
 
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OP specifically mentioned increasing the courseload from here on out. Taking 3 classes instead of 4 for 2 years is not going to hurt her if she takes 4+ for the subsequent semesters. Given the number of people who go to college and then flounder and get bad grades . . . and are forgiven in the med school application process, I think it's a bit harsh to say the OP will be culled for taking 3 courses a semester for a few semesters. People do a lot worse, and this doesn't even put the OP near the back of the pack with that GPA. Sure, maybe *some* school would dislike it, but I can't imagine it being a pervasive problem.
thank you and to be fair my freshman year I was nontrad lol :p
 

Goro

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Mea culpa. It was difficult to read through the novella. But if OP bumps up the course load, then s/he will be fine.

OP specifically mentioned increasing the courseload from here on out. Taking 3 classes instead of 4 for 2 years is not going to hurt her if she takes 4+ for the subsequent semesters. Given the number of people who go to college and then flounder and get bad grades . . . and are forgiven in the med school application process, I think it's a bit harsh to say the OP will be culled for taking 3 courses a semester for a few semesters. People do a lot worse, and this doesn't even put the OP near the back of the pack with that GPA. Sure, maybe *some* school would dislike it, but I can't imagine it being a pervasive problem.
 
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Mar 22, 2012
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I had to rephrase my question...I think that I might have screwed myself over in terms of how I scheduled my classes for the past 2 years…
Basically since I was a freshman I would only take 12-13 credits a semester but would just take 1 pre-med req. I didn’t know how much this would hurt my chances until I visited sdn.

I am now currently a junior for the incoming winter semester (for fall I was in my third year but still in sophomore standing) my cGPA is 3.78 and my bcpm is 3.59. I’m scared that I might have screwed myself over with the way that I have scheduled my pre-reqs each semester ): basically when I started college in 2011 I became very sick with gastrointestinal problems, had to be hospitalized multiple times (and also realized that I had a very bad anxiety disorder and had to start therapy and medication) and really only did 12-13 credits per semester, and the course load was not rigorous at all. I took bio 1 and bio 2 respectively in fall and winter and took basic comp, intermediate comp and other gen eds like art history, anthropology, and nutrition (I had first wanted to be a nutrition major). my second year I declared myself a psychology major, and took 14 credits fall 2012. my course load was, once again, not very rigorous…basic chemistry (not gen chem), speech, italian culture, and intro to psych. I juggled two tutoring jobs and hospital volunteering. My one tutoring job did not allow me to have a flexible schedule. I had to hold office hours, a discussion, sit in lecture with students three times a week and have additional tutoring sessions. The following semester I decided to lighten the course load to 12 credits because I was taking general chemistry with lab, behavioral stats (both classes required a lot of work) and history, while working around 16 hrs per week, and got a 4.0.


This fall semester again I took 12 credits with Orgo and lab, developmental psych and sociology (again, only 1 premed class and two ‘easier’ classes, again working two tutoring jobs but now holding a rigorous research position. my gpa for the semester was a 3.78 with a B+ in Orgo.

my parents also pay for my tuition, I work to help pay for it. I don't qualify for financial aid or loans and I have two scholarships; taking a heavier course load will also put more strain on my family financially.


fall 2013 will be my last light course load since I no longer have the one tutoring job...the job did not really allow me to be that flexible with scheduling as I had to be available during various specific time slots during the week, but now since I no longer have that job I am taking 15 credits during winter- physics with lab with three psychology classes to play catch-up with my major. From here on out I will be taking 15 credit-18 credit semesters and doubling up on pre-reqs. I am concerned about what adcoms think, since it took me this long to start 'challenging myself' and if my major psych classes like behavioral stats and developmental psychology will be considered fluff/easy classes (to me they weren't)

I am just wondering now since I took three 12 credit semesters and one 13 credit semester with only one hard science class, how much that will hurt me? If I take heavier course loads in the future will I be okay? thanks again.
Ah, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I think I've only had one 12 credit semester, but I've had a few 13's. I maintained a great GPA and I've had 6 II's with an acceptance, a waitlist, and 4 pending decisions. I think if you pick it up towards the end (I finished the last 3 semesters of undergrad with 15 each), you will be fine. As stated above, don't volunteer any perception of a light courseload. If asked about it, then maybe disclose your health issues, but never try and make it seem like you are making excuses, rather make it seem like challenges you have overcome. Everyone has different circumstances, and no matter what people on SDN tell you, adcoms do take this into consideration. I also agree with the above statement that people on SDN are on the "gunnerish" side. I might also add neurotic. At the end of the day, just do you. Take what you've learned from your experiences and specifically show how they have motivated you to get into medicine. Adcoms are looking for self-reflective, well-rounded, and compassionate people (among other things), and be sure to always be confident in your achievements.
 
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would a 3000-level behavioral stats course be considered a 'fluff' or 'easy' class during a 12-credit semester? because I took it in the winter of last year with gen chem and it was a challenging class/heavy workload...just curious lol...
 

bluebillion

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Don't worry about it. I highly doubt that an AdCom will sit through your transcript and judge you based on academic courseload.

Just get good grades and you'll be OK.
 

bambi

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I think this is a bit overblown, and I don't know what you're basing that on.
They don't know you overcame anything if you don't mention it to them, and many prompts on secondary apps lend well to discussion of these issues such that you can discuss them w/out turning your PS into a negative expose of your health. While I would not bring up anything that could be misconstrued as a psychiatric illness (stigmatized and never definitively managed) or anything that is ongoing and suggests that you will not be able to handle medical school, I would feel entirely comfortable bringing up a serious illness that shaped you and/or your educational path, that you have learned from, and that you have actually moved past (either a chronic condition that has now been stabilized for a few years, or an acute condition that has no reason to recur). The OP does not have a bad GPA, so he need not discuss his illness as an excuse for anything.

.
I imagine how it would be viewed would depend on what it was. IBS would be viewed very differently to Crohns for example
 
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I imagine how it would be viewed would depend on what it was. IBS would be viewed very differently to Crohns for example
I'm not even sure which one you're saying would be viewed as worse or how that conflicts (if that's what you're suggesting by quoting me) with what I said.
 

bambi

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I'm not even sure which one you're saying would be viewed as worse or how that conflicts (if that's what you're suggesting by quoting me) with what I said.
Not saying it conflicts, just quoted you because the health issue was the point I was commenting on.
I'm surprised you don't understand why or in what way the 2 would be viewed as different but I don't know how junior you are. That's not a dig, just saying.
 
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Not saying it conflicts, just quoted you because the health issue was the point I was commenting on.
I'm surprised you don't understand why or in what way the 2 would be viewed as different but I don't know how junior you are. That's not a dig, just saying.
Maybe not meant to be a dig, but rather full of yourself in interpretation as well as snide in phrasing (you don't know how junior I am because I asked for clarification of your point?). I did not say I didn't see how the two were different, I said I didn't understand which you were implying was worse or in conflict with what I had said.

In my original comment, I said I'd avoid disclosing anything that could be construed as psychiatric or out of your control if you don't have to do so (which the OP probably doesn't given a decent GPA). Valid or not, IBS is certainly construed to be primarily psychiatric by some. Crohn's can raise a lot of questions about whether your illness is actually under control even if you think it is, and for physicians trained in a certain era still has some reputation for being psychiatrically influenced. Both are illnesses per my above criteria that I would be reticent to mention, but each for different reasons. In contrast, I'd be less worried by health disclosure made by someone who has ulcerative colitis that has been asymptomatic for several years post successful/definitive management w/ colectomy. So , yes, I understand how the two are different.

I just don't know about your reading comprehension & inclination to talk down to a person whose background you don't know--not a dig, just saying.
 
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Maybe not meant to be a dig, but rather full of yourself in interpretation as well as snide in phrasing (you don't know how junior I am because I asked for clarification of your point?). I did not say I didn't see how the two were different, I said I didn't understand which you were implying was worse or in conflict with what I had said.

In my original comment, I said I'd avoid disclosing anything that could be construed as psychiatric or out of your control if you don't have to do so (which the OP probably doesn't given a decent GPA). Valid or not, IBS is certainly construed to be primarily psychiatric by some. Crohn's can raise a lot of questions about whether your illness is actually under control even if you think it is, and for physicians trained in a certain era still has some reputation for being psychiatrically influenced. Both are illnesses per my above criteria that I would be reticent to mention, but each for different reasons. In contrast, I'd be less worried by health disclosure made by someone who has ulcerative colitis that has been asymptomatic for several years post successful/definitive management w/ colectomy. So , yes, I understand how the two are different.

I just don't know about your reading comprehension & inclination to talk down to a person whose background you don't know--not a dig, just saying.

I wanted to thank you for the information and reassurance that you've given me on this post. I was wondering though, in terms of my light previous course load- how my individual classes during those 'light' semesters will be looked at? winter semester of last year I took gen chem and a 3000-level statistics class for the behavioral sciences (which I was told was going to be a difficult and rigorous class by my major advisor, and they were right) I was just curious if adcoms would look at individual classes as well and determine if they are easy or difficult classes. I know that basic statistics is seen as an easy class, but I felt that the course that I took was difficult and rigorous.
 
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bambi

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Maybe not meant to be a dig, but rather full of yourself in interpretation as well as snide in phrasing (you don't know how junior I am because I asked for clarification of your point?). I did not say I didn't see how the two were different, I said I didn't understand which you were implying was worse or in conflict with what I had said.

In my original comment, I said I'd avoid disclosing anything that could be construed as psychiatric or out of your control if you don't have to do so (which the OP probably doesn't given a decent GPA). Valid or not, IBS is certainly construed to be primarily psychiatric by some. Crohn's can raise a lot of questions about whether your illness is actually under control even if you think it is, and for physicians trained in a certain era still has some reputation for being psychiatrically influenced. Both are illnesses per my above criteria that I would be reticent to mention, but each for different reasons. In contrast, I'd be less worried by health disclosure made by someone who has ulcerative colitis that has been asymptomatic for several years post successful/definitive management w/ colectomy. So , yes, I understand how the two are different.

I just don't know about your reading comprehension & inclination to talk down to a person whose background you don't know--not a dig, just saying.
Er...major overreaction there!! I don't know how junior you are, nothing wrong with saying so, and your status and response suggest you are much more junior than I am. Here, at least that would be the absolute normal way to phrase that. I included the "dig" comment partly as I am not entirely sure the same would be said there, seems you ignored that.
 
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BlueLabel

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Maybe not meant to be a dig, but rather full of yourself in interpretation as well as snide in phrasing (you don't know how junior I am because I asked for clarification of your point?). I did not say I didn't see how the two were different, I said I didn't understand which you were implying was worse or in conflict with what I had said.

In my original comment, I said I'd avoid disclosing anything that could be construed as psychiatric or out of your control if you don't have to do so (which the OP probably doesn't given a decent GPA). Valid or not, IBS is certainly construed to be primarily psychiatric by some. Crohn's can raise a lot of questions about whether your illness is actually under control even if you think it is, and for physicians trained in a certain era still has some reputation for being psychiatrically influenced. Both are illnesses per my above criteria that I would be reticent to mention, but each for different reasons. In contrast, I'd be less worried by health disclosure made by someone who has ulcerative colitis that has been asymptomatic for several years post successful/definitive management w/ colectomy. So , yes, I understand how the two are different.

I just don't know about your reading comprehension & inclination to talk down to a person whose background you don't know--not a dig, just saying.
Holy overreaction batman! You're just on a roll lately aren't you!
 
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Syncrohnize

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Compared rto someone who took a more rigorous course load, you might have some difficulties.

With applications being so competitive, the schools you apply to will look for a convenient reason to cull your app, and your course history is one of them. 12 credits/semester is almost part-time. You will need to play up the work history you had while you were going to school. But tutoring doesn't cut it for me.

Sometimes you have to play the hand life dealt you.
[/quote]

Goro, thanks for all the service you provide on SDN and what's below is not meant to call out your years of expertise on the matter.

...but I take exception to that bolded part. Don't you think credits are a poor indicator of actual achievement/learning? I took 12-14 all throughout college and learnt quite a lot as I made connections between courses, spent time to digest the material, and the stuff I learnt actually stuck after courses were over which translated to a long term comprehension and a decent MCAT. I don't really think one needs to pile on the courses after courses as it doesn't really mean anything at the undergraduate level where students can choose what courses to take and game the system. Instead, there are other things like work, volunteer experience, exploring passions, and having fun that one prioritize before worrying how many credits they should be taking. The only reasonable justification I can see for looking favorably upon students who complete more than 15 credits a semester is that ideally they're "prepping for the volume of the medical school courseload"...admittedly... I have not experienced medical school yet but I do think undergrad and med school are completely different ball games. From what I have heard from an overwhelming majority of medical students, most of your time will be devoted to study as opposed to work experiences and other ECs. Also, many students tell me that while memorization is important, comprehension and integration is even more critical. I believe the latter can be more efficiently achieved with 12-15 credits. I've seen bright students who take more and the result is often late night cram sessions before tests resulting in less retention (they have less time to think critically about what they're learning and less time to apply it to other classes... even if they can retain it for the purposes of achieving a superior score on a multiple choice exam in these upper level bio classes that test short term memory). Even more importantly, I've heard from many students that took 12 credits a semester in ugrad at T50 med schools that while the initial phase of medical school was a challenge, they did reasonably well and improved dramatically in time for the next exam that was 4 weeks later. What's the point of trudging through a heavy course load when all it does is prepare you for something other students can pick up in such a short duration of time? Admittedly, this is all anecdotal evidence but it seems rational and I can think of no strong advantages of taking more than 14 credits a semester.


I don't doubt that when all other factors are kept the same, a 17 credit student shouldn't look better than a 12 credit student. It's just that that difference should only be considered after a multitude of factors including GPA, MCAT, and all the other stuff people on SDN rant about. Therefore, my response to questions regarding "is X credit load ok/earn me brownie points?" are always similar.



Therefore, OP, I think that your overreacting a bit here...You're asking if adcoms will look down on your 12-13 credit record when your already planning to take 15-18 later? To be honest, they probably won't even notice. I wouldn't if I had access to so much data.
 

Goro

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It will vary from AdCom member to member. I, for one, consider ecology courses to be both 'fluff" and not indicative of how you can do in medical school, compare to, say, anatomy or physiology. I'm OK with Astronomy, or Evolution, which are pretty far off the mark for your clasic pre-med coursework.

Keep in mind some people apply and get in with the bare-bones pre-reqs!

But clearly, our best indicators are the classic biology courses that mimic medical school curricula.



I was just curious if adcoms would look at individual classes as well and determine if they are easy or difficult classes. I know that basic statistics is seen as an easy class, but I felt that the course that I took was difficult and rigorous.[/quote]
 
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I think that course difficulty could vary from university to university. For example, Behavioral Statistics is actually regarded as a difficult course at my institution, whereas at other institutions it could be seen as an easier course...just my two cents.