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Stressed..waiting for Orgo 2 grade

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Jamie 99, May 27, 2008.

  1. Jamie 99

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    Ok, I am a 38 yo post-bac applying for 2010. I have a master's degree and have worked post graduate school for the last 14 years developing and leading programs in the nonprofit sector (child welfare, maternal child health, substance abuse, homelessness). Once I decided to pursue medicine as a second career, I left my director job to take a field job where I am now working part-time (3 days/wk) visiting home care patients. Prior to this semester I had been working full time (on call 24/7), taking one class a semester (A's in all general bio and chem). Science GPA is currently 3.5 (worst grade so far is C in calculus, B precalc and B in orgo I) but I avearged a whopping 69 in Orgo II and am waiting for my final grade. If he doesnt curve final, I could get a D. I wont have time to take the class again b/c I have to complete my physics/orgo lab requirements and prep for MCAT. Should I be very concerned? If I do have to explain a D or a C in Orgo 2 would it be inappropriate to mention that this prof was being investigated by the dept b/c of his ethics? He called us stupid, told us we should kill ourselves and said we were lazy. I realize that there was more than his attitude as to why I didnt do better in the class, but it did have a negative impact on me. My undergrad GPA was 3.4 (no F's, D's, two C's, all rest B's and A's, one W). Grad school was all Pass, Fail, Honors. I got pass on everything and honors on all internships. Also I should note that the only science I had in undergrad was "Science and Society." I took mostly English Lit and Human Services courses. Thanks for your opinions on this!
     
  2. nu2004

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    we're in a bit of a different boat in that my "first career" lasted a mere three years after I graduated from college, but grade-wise we're in similar situations. i found organic to be my most difficult class and struggled to make Bs (which i did, barely). my professor was also a bit grouchy but he did implement a small curve to help our grades (class averages were around a 74).

    i had 2 C's in undergrad as well (with few if any science courses), and my cumulative GPA was 3.45. my post-bacc GPA was slightly higher (would have been considerably higher if nor for organic and some illness at the end of the year). regardless, my GPA was not a considerable hurdle during my application process. i think it was very likely offset by my MCAT score, which was in a very high percentile overall. if you haven't taken the MCAT yet, I would prioritize that and put your organic grade to rest.

    it's probably not worth mentioning an ongoing investigation in your application, though if this grade comes back very low (a D or maybe even a C) and it comes up in an interview, I would certainly mention it. however, a strong showing on the BS section of the MCAT will go a ways to assuaging any concern that you can't hack it for med school.
     
  3. scottyT

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    My opinion, FWIW: I certainly would not advocate doing the above. I think it would come off as whiney and would not reflect well on you. You should work with your instructor first, then your institution if you get a poor grade and truly believe your prof is out to screw everyone.

    Case in point, I took a biochem class in college and the instructor was ... how should I put this ... not effective at conveying his wealth of information. The exams seemed extremely variable and subjective. Sometimes he wouldn't accept answers based on material from our primary text because he disagreed with the authors and said that they were wrong (ahh, the joys of tenure). I got like a 38 or something ridiculously low on his first exam and thought it was going to wreck my average for the whole class. And it wasn't just me, there was a faction in the class that was even going to get together to write to the dean about him. I spoke with him and he was really quite personable, just lousy at teaching. He was willing to work with me and we chatted about some of the questions that I felt were unfair. He allowed me to replace my whole course grade with my final grade and I wound up getting an A.

    Of course, it is too late for you to take such an action but it's never too late to speak with your professor. I would strongly encourage you to try to engage in a civil discussion with him about what you felt prevented you from doing better in the class. If all else fails then you can plead your case to your institution. If that fails, well, I don't think your medical school application is the venue to argue your case. It's one course and I'm sure that many people have done less than stellar in orgo II and went on to med school. I personally know a cardiologist who failed the course once and got a D the second time around. Of course he is in his 60s and times have changed.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. nontrdgsbuiucmd

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    Sorry about the lousy experience, I had a similar one many years ago with a teacher who was verbally abusive and derisive to a large undergrad class. I and several students went to the dean to discuss our concerns with this class, and were told that the instructor had tenure, and basically nothing would be done. If there were enough complaints, the instructor would likely eventually be teaching a small group of grad students rather than an introductory undergraduate class. Seemed unfair, but academia is a pretty close knit organization regarding protecting their own.

    Does your school participate in the "pickaprof" web site? If unsure, go to pickaprof.com to check, one has to register, but there's no cost other than viewing the ads.

    If so, all school grade distributions by instructor & by class will be listed there, i.e. % As, Bs, etc. The info is loaded directly from schools to the service, so it's about as accurate as one can get. I think the service is a major improvement over "word of mouth" on how tough/easy the grading is for a specific teacher.

    My school has an orgo teacher that, per a peer, failed an entire class last spring. Supposed to be an excellent and very engaging teacher, just not a good bet for those of us who need good grades. I went with the guy who gives (according to the pickaprof site) 20% A's instead.
     
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  5. Empi

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    My Orgo 2 experience was similar to the previous poster.

    The prof was so condescending toward me several students came up to me and actually *thanked* me for asking questions because they were all too intimidated by the prof. to dare ask a question.

    On top of this, the lab is a separate grade, this fellow doesn't curve, and he doesn't assign graded homework.

    This should not be tolerated. Organic chem is inherently difficult for the majority of students enrolled in the class; we don't need a hostile professor as well. I thought I was getting my first C, but I ended up rocking out my final (standardized, curve given department-wide, iow, not controlled by that professor.) I ended up with a low B.

    I guess if the ad-coms ask me about the B-, I'll just say I didn't test well in that class, but I redeemed myself by scoring a 96 in the cumulitive final.

    I hope your final also brings up your grade.
     
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  6. gman33

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    If you get less than a C, you will need to retake the course. It will not satisfy the prereq requirements. Schools may let you retake the course prior to matriculation, but I doubt it. I've never heard of someone being admitted without first completing the Orgo requirements (maybe Orgo lab).

    Please don't try to talk about why you did bad. It comes off poorly. The only way to offset this is by retaking the class and doing well.
     
  7. Jamie 99

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    Thanks for your responses everyone. I ended w/ a C- in class. Gman 33, do I need to take it again or will med schools accept this as a passing grade?
     
  8. gman33

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    I always believed that you needed a C or better (not a C-) in order for a prereq to count. I just did a quick search and could not find this anywhere in writing. You may want to contact AMCAS or individual schools for clarification.

    Does anyone have this in writing?
     
  9. flip26

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    Some med school websites are very explicit about "C or better" which I surmise means a C- is inadequate.

    Sorry, I have no links, but someone in this boat should check the individual websites of the schools they are interested in...
     
  10. njbmd

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    There are two potential problems here with the first being that your knowledge base might not be sufficient to do well on the Medical College Admissions Test with that grade. Your GPA is not going to be outstanding and you are a non-science major. You need a one-shot excellent score on the MCAT and you likely need to repeat that course before you go on.

    Making yourself competitive for medical school admission is a marathon and not a sprint. You cannot afford not to take your time a do well. While you have some classes in front of you, the folks who are going to be competing with your for seats in medical school will be very, very competitive academically as both uGPA and MCAT scores have been going up every year. If you have a D in Organic (either section), you have a tough road ahead especially since you are a non-science major.

    A second problem is that you are responsible for your grades period. It doesn't make any difference if Satan was your professor, it is your responsibility to master the material by any honest means necessary. To attempt to place "blame" on the professor for your performance in any way is not a sound choice. If a class isn't working for you, at the first sign of trouble, you should be in your professor's office during office hours early and often until you get the help that you need. If your professor didn't hold office hours or refused to assist you, then you take that up to the department chairman and then to the dean.

    As an adult learner, it is incumbent upon you to tune out extraneous comments and hone in on the material that needs to be mastered. If the professor was not teaching according to the objectives in the syllabus, not holding office hours and not assisting students during those office hours, then you have a legitimate claim that you (and your fellow students) can bring (in writing) to the department chairman. If no satisfaction from department chair the you all should head for the dean.

    I promise you that through medical school and residency, thousands of comments have been made about me and my fellow classmates and residents but we kept our eyes on our goals and the tasks at hand. It called developing a "thick skin" and it's one of those characteristics that one needs for success in medicine. If I don't perform up to par, it's my fault period.
     
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  11. Jamie 99

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    Thanks NJBMD. I learned through this class the importance of developing a thick skin. As a social worker who has worked with abusive men, abusive parents, etc., I was probably more sensitive than the average student. Many students though were reduced to tears and dropped the class. From what I hear, this prof (it was his first semester) is not coming back. The chair of the Dept came to our class while he was teaching to let us know that he was under investigation. I studied a lot for this class and did seek out the prof. I think one of my problems was that I was so anxious. For example, I studied 15 hrs the day before the final, slept for 3 and studied 9 hrs the day of the final. Maybe this was not the right approach? Anyway, at my school a C - is 70-73. My premed advisor did not tell me that I have to take it again. She thinks that I have a strong application even w/ this grade (based on my post bac grades, letters of recs and many years of leadership experience in allied health). I have been advised by several docs who sit on admissions committees, due to my age (38), that I need to apply for 2010. My plan has been to apply w/ the C - but I guess I need to check the websites and call the schools I am applying to. I could take the course again during the spring while I am prepping for the MCAT but that may mean no work if i am to do well in both. Or I could audit the class to improve my skills for MCAT. I will do whatever I have to. I have made many sacrafices to pursue medicine.
     
  12. NukeQuazar

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    If this prof gets reprimanded formally, you might ask another prof or administrator to mention it in a LOR, but only if you retake the class and get an A, showing that the prof had a lot to do with your bad grade. I wouldn't mention it myself; you should stay away from being negative in your essays.
     
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  13. Jamie 99

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    Thank you, Nuke Q. What do you and others think about taking Biochem instead of taking Organic 2 again? I was advised to do this by a mentor who sits on an admissions committee.
     
  14. NukeQuazar

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    I think it's generally better to take another upper division course than repeat, but you might have to retake it for some schools if you end up with a D. Organic is one of the most important, and difficult, pre-reqs, so I would retake it if I go a D, maybe even with a C. The advice of an ADCOM is valuable!
     
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  15. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    It's not a bad idea to take biochem--some schools require it as a pre-req anyway. The issue for you is going to be whether your organic chem foundation is strong enough for you to do well in a biochem course. A B and a C- suggest that you may really need some additional organic coursework before you'd be ready to ace a biochem course. I would seriously consider retaking the organic class for that reason alone, as well as because organic is tested on the MCAT like other people have already mentioned.

    FWIW, I agree with the others that you should *not* in any way, shape, or form blame the prof for your C-. An applicant who tries to pass off their lack of success as someone else's fault comes across as making excuses, which is a real turn-off. What the adcom wants to see is someone who acknowledges that a problem exists and does what is necessary to solve that problem. No one in this whole world cares about your learning and your grades nearly as much as you do. Therefore, it is you who should be doing everything necessary to make sure that you learn what you need to learn and pull the grades that you need for medical school. You will have bad teachers here and there for the rest of your time in school, including some of the teachers in med school. But would you really be willing to just give up and flunk out of med school because of their bad teaching!?! Instead of focusing on how bad this prof was (and he does sound pretty awful), focus on what you are able to control and change, which is *you.* What else could you have done to have earned at least a B in this class? If you do decide to retake it, what will you do differently this time around? If you decide to take biochem, what can you do to ensure that you get a B or better? You will be much more successful in both chemistry and in the app process if you make this bad situation into a learning experience and use it to become a better student in the long run. (I'd have to say that yeah, staying up all night before the test and only getting three hours of sleep was probably not the most effective study strategy.)

    I also wanted to comment about your age--I honestly don't think that being 39 versus 40 when you apply is going to make that big of a difference. You are already so much older than a trad applicant that any school that would have been "prejudiced" against you for being 40 will still be prejudiced against you for being 39. IMO, it's much better to be a competitive 40-year-old applicant than a mediocre 39-year-old applicant. Don't let other people push you into moving faster if it means that your grades suffer as a result--the numbers that matter the most to adcoms are your UG GPA and MCAT score, not your age.

    Best of luck to you. :)
     
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    #15 QofQuimica, Jul 6, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  16. Jamie 99

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    Thanks Q of Q for your response. I just resigned from my job and plan to focus 100% on studying. I am taking Bio chem + lab, physics 2 w/ lab and organic 1 lab next semester. This will be my first semester with a full science courseload. I have been working full time and just last semester part time (25 hours) so I could take Orgo 2 and Bio 2. My plan in the spring is to take a Kaplan course and study for MCAT from January-April (with PT work). Do you think that this will be enough time if I dedicate myself to studying 4-5 hours a day? I am also looking into SMP's to fill my gap year. I would do it for two reasons; one to feel prepared for med school and two to increase my chances of admission. If I am not accepted for 2010 I could reapply w/ the advanced courswork for 2011. I also have started to visit schools that offer preadvisement. I really want to apply for 2010, esp now that I have left my job. I started this process back in 1/05 so it has been a long haul already. I think that I can do better in biochem with all my focus on school. This will be a defining semester for me. Anyone have specific insights into SMPS in the northeast area? Specifically, UMDNJ, NY Medical College, Temple, Drexel or PCOM? Thanks!
     
  17. Empi

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    Q of Q rocks.
     
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  18. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Good grief, I only studied for the MCAT for 10 weeks and it about near killed me. If you can keep that pace up for almost twice as long, more power to you. :luck: with your courses this semester, and if you do run into any trouble, get help *early*. :)
     
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