Should I do more Upper Div Sciences?

lilrosahendrix

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Finishing up OChem in 4 weeks. its been a cool ride. I still am not fully convinced I wanna pursue medicine but sheesh im proud of myself its been fun so far.

My question is that I have come to see many science majors take upper div bio courses like genetics, pharmacology and immunology. I am not a stem major but I have a good science gpa, The only science courses I've really completed are really only the premeds. Would you advise I take any upper div science classes? If I were too I would likely have to take an extra quarter.
 
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VaultArmitage

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That's almost entirely up to you! If it pushes your graduation back that might be a deal breaker for me, but if you haven't taken the mcat (which I'm assuming you haven't if you haven't decided on medicine) I think upper science classes can really give you a solid foundation to study off of. Personally I took Genetics and thought it was one of the most interesting courses I'd ever taken.
 
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Finishing up OChem in 4 weeks. its been a cool ride. I still am not fully convinced I wanna pursue medicine but sheesh im proud of myself its been fun so far.

My question is that I have come to see many science majors take upper div bio courses like genetics, pharmacology and immunology. I am not a stem major but I have a good science gpa, The only science courses I've really completed are really only the premeds. Would you advise I take any upper div science classes? If I were too I would likely have to take an extra quarter.
There are many med schools that recommend or require upper-level Bio. You might check the websites of schools you'd be more likely to target and see if they are among them. Genetics, Cell Bio, and Physiology are good choices.
 
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GreenDuck12

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Check MSAR as well for course requirements in addition to school websites. Some programs I looked at had interesting requirements like 2 semesters of A&P specifically, which is outside the norm. Generally, I would suggest classes in genetics, cell bio, molecular bio, immunology, proteomics, A&P etc. The additional depth that you gain may be beneficial for the MCAT but certainly is not required to do well on the MCAT.
 

pdl2015

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If you're not a STEM major and your degree doesn't require all those upper div courses, don't take them. Maintaining a high science GPA and being a non-science major will help you far more than loading up on unnecessary upper level science courses when applying to medical school and potentially delaying your graduation. Research medical schools you'd be interested in applying to and see how your transcript thus far matches up to their required coursework. There's a reason they don't require 50 hours of upper level bio--they're going to re-teach it to you in the first 4 months anyway.

If you haven't taken the MCAT yet and the depth of your science coursework so far are the typical pre-reqs, I'd recommend looking at taking a Biochem course. Biochem will help you with your MCAT prep, and its becoming more and more common of a pre-req for a lot of schools. I'd also advise taking it soon after completing O-Chem. You might also consider taking a combined Anatomy & Physiology course if your school offers one. No need to take separate courses for each if you don't need to. Plus it sounds like you're still trying to figure out whether you'd want to pursue medicine for your career. Short of those two courses, you can do well on the MCAT from your already completed courses and MCAT prep materials. Other upper level courses might give you a bit of insight in what med school curricula will be like, but they certainly aren't necessary to do well on the MCAT, nor to receive invitations for interviews.

As far as not yet knowing whether medicine will be for you, that's fine! You can learn more about what medicine is all about outside of the classroom of upper level science coursework. Go volunteer at your local clinic. Reach out and find some shadowing opportunities to learn more about different professions in the medical field.
 
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jhmmd

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pdl2015 said:
There's a reason they don't require 50 hours of upper level bio--they're going to re-teach it to you in the first 4 months anyway.
No, this is bad advice. You want the med school courses to be a refresher; you don't want to be seeing biochem, endocrinology, microbio, cell bio, and the like for the first time the way that they are taught in med school, which is more like a chapter or two (or sometimes three) a day, as opposed to 1-2 chapters a week. In med school the professors cram the material down your throat--the old adage is that it's like drinking from a fire hose. You DO want to have seen the material before.

pdl2015 said:
your local clinic
Yea, and most major universities with a med school attached partner with a local clinic/homeless shelter. You'll be seeing a lot of low-SES/homeless pts, so be prepared for that. If not, you can ask your PCP if (s)he knows anyone that you can shadow.
 

pdl2015

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No, this is bad advice. You want the med school courses to be a refresher; you don't want to be seeing biochem, endocrinology, microbio, cell bio, and the like for the first time the way that they are taught in med school, which is more like a chapter or two (or sometimes three) a day, as opposed to 1-2 chapters a week. In med school the professors cram the material down your throat--the old adage is that it's like drinking from a fire hose. You DO want to have seen the material before.
The depth of comprehension of the material in these topics one needs to have to do well in medical school is far greater than what undergrads are expected to have to ace their coursework. Previous exposure to the material will only help so much. Students excel in medical school because of the work they put in in medical school. No one walks through pre-clinical sciences because of courses they saw in undergrad. I agree it's nice to have some exposure to these topics in undergrad, but it's not necessary in order to do well in medical school.
 

jhmmd

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pdl2015 said:
The depth of comprehension of the material in these topics one needs to have to do well in medical school is far greater than what undergrads are expected to have to ace their coursework. Previous exposure to the material will only help so much. Students excel in medical school because of the work they put in in medical school. No one walks through pre-clinical sciences because of courses they saw in undergrad. I agree it's nice to have some exposure to these topics in undergrad, but it's not necessary in order to do well in medical school.
I would argue that it is, but suit yourself
 

pdl2015

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I would argue that it is, but suit yourself
If they were, they would be stated as such. Non-science majors would also drop out at a higher rate if the lack of such exposure is as fatal as you say. As far as I'm aware, there is no difference in that population compared to their science major counterparts.

People with good study habits will make for good medical students. That's the bottom line. OP seems to be displaying that just fine so far.
 

jhmmd

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pdl2015 said:
If they were, they would be stated as such. Non-science majors would also drop out at a higher rate if the lack of such exposure is as fatal as you say. As far as I'm aware, there is no difference in that population compared to their science major counterparts.

People with good study habits will make for good medical students. That's the bottom line. OP seems to be displaying that just fine so far.
It's just advice, like I said. Not everything is spelled out.

And I didn't say that not taking upper div bio is fatal, just that it's not advantageous to NOT take upper div bio. No digs at the OP
We are in agreement then?
 

jhmmd

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pdl2015 said:
If they were, they would be stated as such. Non-science majors would also drop out at a higher rate if the lack of such exposure is as fatal as you say. As far as I'm aware, there is no difference in that population compared to their science major counterparts.

People with good study habits will make for good medical students. That's the bottom line. OP seems to be displaying that just fine so far.
It's just advice, like I said. Not everything is spelled out.

And I didn't say that not taking upper div bio is fatal, just that it's not advantageous to NOT take upper div bio. No digs at the OP
We are in agreement then?
 

pdl2015

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It's just advice, like I said. Not everything is spelled out.

And I didn't say that not taking upper div bio is fatal, just that it's not advantageous to NOT take upper div bio. No digs at the OP
We are in agreement then?
I think so, however if OP has a high sGPA so far through the typical pre-reqs and ends up taking a bunch of upper level bios, in addition to classes that are actually required for their degree (and perhaps gets a B or C in one/some of the difficult upper level bio courses), I think it will be more detrimental to their application than if they just took what they needed to take, along with say Biochem and A&P.

I took a ton of upper level biology courses because I was a biology major and enjoyed them, even the ones I didn't get As in. I just think there's a proper balance for a non-science major to take upper level Bio courses. Some of them can be quite difficult, along with what I'm sure will already be difficult, major-specific upper level's OP is actually required to take. OP shouldn't take on more risk than what is needed to gain a medical school acceptance. I think it's important for OP to take some classes beyond the bare minimum pre-reqs, but definitely not important to take Molecular, Developmental, Immunology, etc., and things of the like. They might offer some help when OP does go through MS1's pre-clinical sciences, but assuming OP has a lot of other upper-levels that are actually required for their degree, it's just not worth it, especially if it delays graduation.

edit: I will note that this advice does largely stem on OP's actual, current sGPA. If it's closer to 4.0, the need for additional display of upper level science comprehension decreases. If OP got a few Bs in the prereqs that brings their sGPA down closer to 3.5, then the need for the additional display of upper level science comprehension increases. There's definitely a balance to be struck. Personally if I was in OP's position and I was sitting somewhere around a 3.7 and I did the math and saw As in Biochem and an A&P would get it north of a 3.8, I'd focus on that and planning adequate time for MCAT prep, without worrying about racking on many more upper level bio classes. A 3.8+ sGPA comprised of ~40 hours at that point with a great MCAT will garner a lot of attention from medical schools.
 
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jhmmd

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pdl2015 said:
I took a ton of upper level biology courses because I was a biology major and enjoyed them, even the ones I didn't get As in. I just think there's a proper balance for a non-science major to take upper level Bio courses. Some of them can be quite difficult, along with what I'm sure will already be difficult, major-specific upper level's OP is actually required to take. OP shouldn't take on more risk than what is needed to gain a medical school acceptance. I think it's important for OP to take some classes beyond the bare minimum pre-reqs, but definitely not important to take Molecular, Developmental, Immunology, etc., and things of the like. They might offer some help when OP does go through MS1's pre-clinical sciences, but assuming OP has a lot of other upper-levels that are actually required for their degree, it's just not worth it.
I liked my bio courses too, which I guess is why I was a bio major :p

Do they even offer Immunology/Developmental bio at your uni or do I just live in an area that is not as advanced? :laugh:
 

pdl2015

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I liked my bio courses too, which I guess is why I was a bio major :p

Do they even offer Immunology/Developmental bio at your uni or do I just live in an area that is not as advanced? :laugh:

Yup! One of the many reasons I (biasly) believe The University of Texas is the best place to go to college. Hook ‘Em
I didn’t take Immunology, but I did take Developmental, Molecular, Vert Neuroanatomy, among a few others. I did well in some, not as well in others. The masochist in me had the desire to take them all.
 
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elloL

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Finishing up OChem in 4 weeks. its been a cool ride. I still am not fully convinced I wanna pursue medicine but sheesh im proud of myself its been fun so far.

My question is that I have come to see many science majors take upper div bio courses like genetics, pharmacology and immunology. I am not a stem major but I have a good science gpa, The only science courses I've really completed are really only the premeds. Would you advise I take any upper div science classes? If I were too I would likely have to take an extra quarter.
I don't know what your major is, but I can tell you what I think as a Psychology major with a minor in Neuroscience (also non-stem major). I just graduated and I only did the standard requirements with my only upper-level science courses being two neuroscience courses. I can tell you that not having had to take any extra labs besides those required allowed me to have time to tutor at my school and gain valuable experience teaching. I ended up finishing with a 3.95 cGPA and a 3.93 sGPA. I was obviously ecstatic with these stats, but now I am facing two major disadvantages. 1 - I am finding that the biology section on the MCAT for me seems to require me to prepare more than stem majors and I have to teach myself new concepts that were never covered in my intro-level biology courses. Not only that, but reading the dense passages is relatively new for me because scientific research analysis and comprehension were not covered in the courses that I did take, and I would bet most intro-level biology courses are like this. While I think that I will be able to improve by the time that I take my MCAT, it would have been much easier if I had taken some more upper-level biology courses (Genetics and Physiology, especially). 2 - Many medical schools consider the rigor of your course load, and view those with more difficult science courses more favorably. This means that people who have GPAs similar to mine who were able to take more challenging science courses will likely have more of an edge than I do. Upper-level science courses prove that you can succeed in medical school. If I could go back, I would have definitely tried to take more upper-level biology courses.
 
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pdl2015

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1 - I am finding that the biology section on the MCAT for me seems to require me to prepare more than stem majors and I have to teach myself new concepts that were never covered in my intro-level biology courses. Not only that, but reading the dense passages is relatively new for me because scientific research analysis and comprehension were not covered in the courses that I did take, and I would bet most intro-level biology courses are like this. While I think that I will be able to improve by the time that I take my MCAT, it would have been much easier if I had taken some more upper-level biology courses (Genetics and Physiology, especially).

Yeah, you definitely will need to teach yourself whatever wasn't covered in your previous coursework, but the depth at which you need that knowledge is, for the most part, covered in MCAT prep materials. I hope you have enough time to prepare, but just a bit of encouragement from someone who has gone through it all: you can do it! Don't fret at the topics you didn't cover in your intro classes. Just attack them with greater vigor in your prep work. There are plenty of online resources at your disposal that will get you what you need. Be confident! You're clearly a good student who can study well. Also make sure you allocate enough study prep time. Don't cram it all into 8 weeks, especially if either of you need more time to cover materials you didn't cover in your pre-med classes.

2 - Many medical schools consider the rigor of your course load, and view those with more difficult science courses more favorably. This means that people who have GPAs similar to mine who were able to take more challenging science courses will likely have more of an edge than I do. Upper-level science courses prove that you can succeed in medical school. If I could go back, I would have definitely tried to take more upper-level biology courses.

GPA trumps rigor practically every time in the eyes of most adcoms. Your 3.9+ GPA in both fields is highly impressive, and most other applicants who gain acceptances will have a lower GPA than you. Don't think you're at a significant disadvantage for having not taken more upper-levels. The only thing I'll say about rigor (or lack there of) is that if someone only took 12 hours every single semester, that may raise a red flag in the eyes of some, but that's about it.
 
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jhmmd

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pdl2015 said:
GPA trumps rigor practically every time in the eyes of most adcoms. Your 3.9+ GPA in both fields is highly impressive, and most other applicants who gain acceptances will have a lower GPA than you. Don't think you're at a significant disadvantage for having not taken more upper-levels. The only thing I'll say about rigor (or lack there of) is that if someone only took 12 hours every single semester, that may raise a red flag in the eyes of some, but that's about it.
Yep yep

And of course the MCAT

marie9132443 said:
I am finding that the biology section on the MCAT for me seems to require me to prepare more than stem majors and I have to teach myself new concepts that were never covered in my intro-level biology courses. Not only that, but reading the dense passages is relatively new for me because scientific research analysis and comprehension were not covered in the courses that I did take, and I would bet most intro-level biology courses are like this.
Science passages ARE quite dense on the MCAT. You can prepare with scientific journal articles and things like that, though. Other journals are good for this too--the Atlantic, etc.
 

lilrosahendrix

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If you're not a STEM major and your degree doesn't require all those upper div courses, don't take them. Maintaining a high science GPA and being a non-science major will help you far more than loading up on unnecessary upper level science courses when applying to medical school and potentially delaying your graduation. Research medical schools you'd be interested in applying to and see how your transcript thus far matches up to their required coursework. There's a reason they don't require 50 hours of upper level bio--they're going to re-teach it to you in the first 4 months anyway.

If you haven't taken the MCAT yet and the depth of your science coursework so far are the typical pre-reqs, I'd recommend looking at taking a Biochem course. Biochem will help you with your MCAT prep, and its becoming more and more common of a pre-req for a lot of schools. I'd also advise taking it soon after completing O-Chem. You might also consider taking a combined Anatomy & Physiology course if your school offers one. No need to take separate courses for each if you don't need to. Plus it sounds like you're still trying to figure out whether you'd want to pursue medicine for your career. Short of those two courses, you can do well on the MCAT from your already completed courses and MCAT prep materials. Other upper level courses might give you a bit of insight in what med school curricula will be like, but they certainly aren't necessary to do well on the MCAT, nor to receive invitations for interviews.

As far as not yet knowing whether medicine will be for you, that's fine! You can learn more about what medicine is all about outside of the classroom of upper level science coursework. Go volunteer at your local clinic. Reach out and find some shadowing opportunities to learn more about different professions in the medical field.

Facts, I'm not gonna take the uppers
 
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elloL

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I thought it was wise to graduate on time and just have extra time to study solely on the mcat than take other science upper divs, delay my timeline, and possibly ruin my sGPA.
That's definitely possible - It's what I am doing right now. Like I mentioned though, studying for the MCAT is a lot of work in general, but even more so with fewer biology courses taken. I'm watching a lot of Khan Academy videos and reading through content books for what I never learned.
 
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