Upper Level Biology Classes

Karim

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    I'm currently a biology major. I'm about done with General Biology and I'm scheduled to take microbiology next semester. My question is this: how difficult are upper-level biology classes in general (or in comparison to general biology)? By upper level, I mean anything past microbio...Sorry for the wasted thread, but I'd really like to know.
     

    Turkeyman

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      Hey dude, how's it been going? I haven't been on AIM but once the semester's over I'll be back :D

      The upper-levels actually get a bit easier I feel, because of the greater organization and concentrated scope of material. In the general bios, they are structured to be all-encompassing weed out classes which can become very frustrating. I love my upper-levels...you'll find they aren't as intimidating as you might think.
       

      Karim

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        I just thought of another question and I really don't want to make another thread...How do you double majors (or triple) do it in 4 years? I'm really thinking about double majoring in nutritional sciences and bio but I doubt I'll be able to finish within 4 years. If I do take 5 years as an undergrad, should I apply during my 5th year for medical school? I'm currenty a freshman.
         
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          Karim said:
          I'm currently a biology major. I'm about done with General Biology and I'm scheduled to take microbiology next semester. My question is this: how difficult are upper-level biology classes in general (or in comparison to general biology)? By upper level, I mean anything past microbio...Sorry for the wasted thread, but I'd really like to know.

          more difficult than med school courses :p
           

          Labslave

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            Karim said:
            I'm currently a biology major. I'm about done with General Biology and I'm scheduled to take microbiology next semester. My question is this: how difficult are upper-level biology classes in general (or in comparison to general biology)? By upper level, I mean anything past microbio...Sorry for the wasted thread, but I'd really like to know.

            I guess the biggest difference is that everyone is pretty much on a level playing field in the upper-level bio classes. No longer do you have individuals with significant differences in knowledge bases (because of taking AP classes in high school or lack thereof). For those individuals who did have an advantage in the gen bio classes, the upper-level classes will seem harder ("OMG! I have to learn something?"), while there probably won't be much of a change for those who had to bust their @$$es in gen bio.

            Of course, if the upper-level classes are curved, the situation changes a bit for obvious reasons (it would seem much easier for those who before had a disadvantage).

            In any event, I actually thought the subject material of upper-level classes was a lot easier to digest. This was mainly because the material became more specific to one subject instead of spread out over ten different disciplines. Might have been just my experience though...
             

            Turkeyman

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              Labslave said:
              In any event, I actually thought the subject material of upper-level classes was a lot easier to digest. This was mainly because the material became more specific to one subject instead of spread out over ten different disciplines. Might have been just my experience though...

              You worded it better than I did, it's true :D.
               

              Stroganoff

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                I never took General Bio. Jumped right into Cell Bio, Micro, and Immuno. Also took undergrad level anatomy/physio and another more med school level physio/biophysics course. To me, bio is just alphabet soup. Nothing but boring memorization, like a foreign language:

                "PKJ7 reactive kinase complex 22 binds to XXZ Major Histocompatibility Complex J-chain releasing lysine immunoglobulin sergeant pepper, who invariably kills all the bad guys with green wristbands on their T-Cell receptors, but only if they have CD4+ and CD8-."

                Having said that, as long as you have some interest in the class and keep up with the studying, you'll be fine. As far as thinking is concerned, there's really not much actual "problem-solving" to grunt through. Genetics is more quantitative, though. And upper-level physio/biophysics can get pretty math intensive, which I love.

                Micro is just memorizing a ton of weird vocab: Latin genus/species of a ton of microbes, weird words for diseases they cause, and more weird words for drugs that fight those diseases or kill those microbes. Have fun memorizing. [cynicism] :clap: :hardy: :thumbup: [/cynicism]
                 

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                  Wow, this is actually a very informative thread, thanks for starting it, OP!
                  I was wondering this too, as I just changed my major to Bio... And I think I'm getting my first B in Gen Biology. But it's such a cool class, and I'm learning a ton, so I'm hoping the a$$ busting now will do me well on my other classes. Good to know!
                   
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                    You must be a pretty fast reader in order to go through it all.

                    How do you guys manage time for reading textbooks in upper level courses when the material gets even more nitty gritty and you have to read closely.
                     

                    dajimmers

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                      Hermit MMood said:
                      You must be a pretty fast reader in order to go through it all.

                      How do you guys manage time for reading textbooks in upper level courses when the material gets even more nitty gritty and you have to read closely.
                      I read very little in textbooks, to tell you the truth. Lectures and notes, and re-re-reviewing those notes, has been enough for me for awhile now... I'll read the textbook if I'm interested, but if not, the lecture has always been enough.
                       

                      Karim

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                        Asherlauph said:
                        Wow, this is actually a very informative thread, thanks for starting it, OP!
                        I was wondering this too, as I just changed my major to Bio... And I think I'm getting my first B in Gen Biology. But it's such a cool class, and I'm learning a ton, so I'm hoping the a$$ busting now will do me well on my other classes. Good to know!
                        Hey, no problem! I'm glad to be of service.
                         

                        Karim

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                          I think I'm going to spend five years at college. I'm only 17 anyway, so why rush things! I'm going to start outlining the classes that I need to take as a double major during the upcoming years, and hopefully everything will work out! I swear, SDN has helped me make some of the hardest/most important decisions in my life.
                           

                          Pretty POHA

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                            SDN has helped me out a ton, too, very inspirational.
                            Someone (sorry, I've been reading too quickly to remember their name) posted about how they don't read their textbooks. This is insane to me!! *eyes getting all big*
                            I read my text several times over to make sure I understand the material. Like the average # of times I read the text is 3-- unless it's for a class that just doesn't use the text. But when does that happen, really?
                            Oh, and OP about taking your time-- seriously, it doesn't matter how long it takes, does it? I'm going to have received my bachelor's in six years or so... I took a ton of gen ed classes... got lots of practice on how to (or how not to) study!
                             

                            lilTXcatMD

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                              :thumbup: :thumbup: Double majoring has actually been one of the greatest things I've done while in college. I will graduate in 3 1/2 years with degress in biology and psychology. I know lots of people think psychology is just an easy major, but some of my psych class have been much more difficult than the bio ones. I like having both because it prevents you from having to focus on say 4 bio classes every semester. Its nice to do something different.

                              OP--- biology classes get easier depending on which ones you take. For instance, Invertebrate zoology is pure memorizing. Comparative Anatomy (my schools upper level A&P) is the same with a little dissecting thrown into the mix. It all depends on what you like to learn.
                               

                              little_late_MD

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                                ShyRem said:
                                Karim, I double majored, but not in bio - I did chem/math. You do it by taking an overload every semester. I did 21 credits most semesters.

                                I took a look at your MDApplicants profile, and looking at your GPA I wonder if you regret taking that many credits per term. If you could do it over again, would you rather just take another semester or two?

                                I ask because I changed majors my (second) junior year, and had to take 18 credits a term just to graduate in 5 years. I can't even imagine taking 6 classes per term of strictly upper level chem/math.
                                 

                                Thundrstorm

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                                  It depends on the class. In general, I'd say that my upper division bio classes were harder but also alot more interesting. In gen bio, I had to learn about a lot of stuff I didn't care about, like plant biology. Classes like neurobio were harder, but were also just so interesting and fun. I wouldn't worry about the difficulty too much; they'll be harder, but you'll also be more prepared for them. Also, for what it's worth, I think upper level bio classes help with the MCAT.
                                   

                                  Em1

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                                    If you want to double major in 4 years, take advantage of summers. Even if you only take 12 credits each summer, that's 36 more credits.

                                    But 5 years isn't such a bad thing. I'd guess that a high GPA with a reasonable course load is better than a not-as-high GPA with an insane course load.

                                    As for upper level bio, I think they were harder than intro, but I was one of those people who had an awesome AP teacher and intro was really easy for me. Just stay on top of the material and you should be fine.
                                     
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                                      Karim said:
                                      I think I'm going to spend five years at college. I'm only 17 anyway, so why rush things! I'm going to start outlining the classes that I need to take as a double major during the upcoming years, and hopefully everything will work out! I swear, SDN has helped me make some of the hardest/most important decisions in my life.
                                      :thumbup: Good plan. Remember don't rush it if you want a double major you need to do well so don't kill yourself to finish in 4-5 years.

                                      Most people I know that had triple majors also had college credit from high school therefore they were able to go directly into a higher level course (such as skipping biology/chemistry/calculus I and II, english, etc).

                                      As for SDN I have to agree. This resource is invaluable and so have the supportive and critical friends I have met along the way. Really allows me to network and get the feedback I need. But remember take things said he with a grain of salt at times b/c not everyone knows what is best for you. You can get ideas but trust your gut when it comes to you. You know yourself best! :luck:
                                       

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                                        Hermit MMood said:
                                        You must be a pretty fast reader in order to go through it all.

                                        How do you guys manage time for reading textbooks in upper level courses when the material gets even more nitty gritty and you have to read closely.

                                        A lot of people don't read the textbooks. I rarely read all of the assigned readings (and still don't in med school). There isn't enough time. Study from the lecture notes and use the textbook as a reference when you need a figure, or to look up a fact, or to read a section when there is something you don't understand.
                                         
                                        Hermit MMood said:
                                        You must be a pretty fast reader in order to go through it all.

                                        How do you guys manage time for reading textbooks in upper level courses when the material gets even more nitty gritty and you have to read closely.
                                        You would be out of your mind to read every page in an upper-level bio course, but I read the textbook when I have questions that the powerpoint/notes don't answer. The book is useful for explaining things like signal transduction and such.
                                         

                                        Karim

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                                          I'm thinking about taking Animal Behavior (easy class, I hope), Immunology, Histology, and Endocrinology as my upper level courses, all in the hopes of preparing myself for medical school. Do these sound good? What's the difficulty rating on these?

                                          I started compiling a list of the classes that I'll have to take for a nutritional sciences (sports medicine concentration) major and I started thinking...I'll have to take all these extra classes, which might end up hurting my GPA. Even though I really want to study sports medicine (I'm convinced that it's something I'll enjoy), maybe it's just too much of a stretch. Most likely, I'll take 5 years to graduate if I double major...and the more classes, the more chances of them fouling up my GPA. I don't even know how hard a nutritional sciences major is (I'm guessing that it's easier than Bio), but I won't take any chances.

                                          I want to major in biology because 1) It is interesting, although not as interesting as nutritional sciences to me, 2) The preprofessional B.S. for Biology covers all of my pre-med classes, 3) I just applied to become a school senator for the College of Sciences, so I have to be a College of Sciences major. Unfortuantely, nutritional sciences is under the College of Health Sciences, which is seperate.

                                          I want to major in nutritional sciences because 1) I like it! 2) It will be pertintent to the rest of my life, 3) It covers most of my pre-med courses (except Organic II and some general biology), 4) 2 semesters of A&P, as well as biochem are required.

                                          So...to get the best of both worlds, I'm thinking of double majoring. If not, I'll probably just end up majoring in Biology. What do you guys think I should do?
                                           

                                          Karim

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                                            Something else that I probably should add is that I'm planning on studying abroad the fall of my junior year, right after I take the MCAT. A lot of stuff to do, I know! The problem is that there are things that I really want to do (like study abroad, become a school senator and major in nutritional sciences) and there are some things that I have to do. Can you guys help me find the balance between these two? I predict "slow down" as an answer...
                                             

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                                              I'm not sure I ever got the logic of taking those sorts of upper bio courses if u're going to take them in medical school. I mean, why take endocrinology if you're going to take it in medical school. same for histo and immuno. If you're really set on taking those sorts of courses, drop endo unless u have a research interest in it. extra histo would be useful for histo, phys, pathophys, and pathology. immunology's always a nice thing to have and is always cutting edge. But again, if u're going to take all of these things in medical school and do just fine in them, why take em in undergrad.
                                               

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                                                Karim said:
                                                I'm thinking about taking Animal Behavior (easy class, I hope), Immunology, Histology, and Endocrinology as my upper level courses, all in the hopes of preparing myself for medical school. Do these sound good? What's the difficulty rating on these?

                                                I started compiling a list of the classes that I'll have to take for a nutritional sciences (sports medicine concentration) major and I started thinking...I'll have to take all these extra classes, which might end up hurting my GPA. Even though I really want to study sports medicine (I'm convinced that it's something I'll enjoy), maybe it's just too much of a stretch. Most likely, I'll take 5 years to graduate if I double major...and the more classes, the more chances of them fouling up my GPA. I don't even know how hard a nutritional sciences major is (I'm guessing that it's easier than Bio), but I won't take any chances.

                                                I want to major in biology because 1) It is interesting, although not as interesting as nutritional sciences to me, 2) The preprofessional B.S. for Biology covers all of my pre-med classes, 3) I just applied to become a school senator for the College of Sciences, so I have to be a College of Sciences major. Unfortuantely, nutritional sciences is under the College of Health Sciences, which is seperate.

                                                I want to major in nutritional sciences because 1) I like it! 2) It will be pertintent to the rest of my life, 3) It covers most of my pre-med courses (except Organic II and some general biology), 4) 2 semesters of A&P, as well as biochem are required.

                                                So...to get the best of both worlds, I'm thinking of double majoring. If not, I'll probably just end up majoring in Biology. What do you guys think I should do?


                                                If you really like nutrition, why don't you just have that as a major? Honestly, switching colleges can be a hassle but I would highly suggest this. The upper level bio classes for some pre-meds are often boring if they are plant/animal biology that have little reference to medical school. Every biology program is different at every college. You could still take some upper level bios as electives if you so choose. Plus then you can do study abroad with some electives. I am a huge proponent of study abroad as that was the ONE thing I wish I really would have done in college. Its a great experience if only for a summer.
                                                 

                                                Karim

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                                                  I'm going to do study abroad in the fall of my junior year so I use the previous summer to study for the MCAT so I can remember my stuff...The reason why I'm not jumping into nutritional sciences is because I just applied for senatorial position for the College of Sciences...
                                                   

                                                  Karim

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                                                    Rendar5 said:
                                                    I'm not sure I ever got the logic of taking those sorts of upper bio courses if u're going to take them in medical school. I mean, why take endocrinology if you're going to take it in medical school. same for histo and immuno. If you're really set on taking those sorts of courses, drop endo unless u have a research interest in it. extra histo would be useful for histo, phys, pathophys, and pathology. immunology's always a nice thing to have and is always cutting edge. But again, if u're going to take all of these things in medical school and do just fine in them, why take em in undergrad.
                                                    Wait...I'm confused. I thought the reason students take Anatomy and Physiology and Biochemistry in college so they don't have such a hard time in medical school. I'm using that same logic for other classes in my biology preprofessional degree. Am I wrong to do so? Are they hard in college?
                                                     

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                                                      Karim said:
                                                      Wait...I'm confused. I thought the reason students take Anatomy and Physiology and Biochemistry in college so they don't have such a hard time in medical school. I'm using that same logic for other classes in my biology preprofessional degree. Am I wrong to do so? Are they hard in college?

                                                      most med students never take those classes either, at least at my school. I'm sure if u took some of those classes, a couple of med classes might be a bit easier, but people are able to learn all those subjects just fine (well, relatively, lol) in med school anyway. Take em if they interest you, but I personally think that you'll serve yourself just as well by taking classes you enjoy and expanding your knowledge. Pretty much any sorta major would be useful to you either in prepping for med school or dealing w/ medicine. even philosophy . well, maybe not ceramics. And if u really just love biology and want to take as much anatomy and immunology as you can lay your hands on, then go for it.

                                                      Physiology could be useful for MCATs though. I did perfectly fine w/o it, though.
                                                       

                                                      dajimmers

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                                                        Karim said:
                                                        Wait...I'm confused. I thought the reason students take Anatomy and Physiology and Biochemistry in college so they don't have such a hard time in medical school. I'm using that same logic for other classes in my biology preprofessional degree. Am I wrong to do so? Are they hard in college?
                                                        They may or may not be hard, depends on the professor, school, and you. I thought most of mine were easy, but I was interested in them, and am damn good at cramming for MC exams.

                                                        I think taking the upper-level bios is better for proving you can hack it in them, than for making med school easier. I have some teaching (TA) experience, and plenty of upper level bios, so I'm trying to express the fact that I have a good head start, and am very willing and interested in helping non-science majors catch up in med school. So far the interviewers seem to appreciate this.

                                                        Should I give up school senate for the sake of the other major?
                                                        No, I think the leadership and extracurricular experience gained by school senate is more important than an extra major. Do what you will enjoy the most, by all means, but if school senate is cool to you, do that. Get in committees and top positions in it, and you'll have a stellar EC to discuss at interviews.
                                                         

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                                                          Asherlauph said:
                                                          SDN has helped me out a ton, too, very inspirational.
                                                          Someone (sorry, I've been reading too quickly to remember their name) posted about how they don't read their textbooks. This is insane to me!! *eyes getting all big*
                                                          I read my text several times over to make sure I understand the material. Like the average # of times I read the text is 3-- unless it's for a class that just doesn't use the text. But when does that happen, really?
                                                          Oh, and OP about taking your time-- seriously, it doesn't matter how long it takes, does it? I'm going to have received my bachelor's in six years or so... I took a ton of gen ed classes... got lots of practice on how to (or how not to) study!

                                                          Wow. I haven't even bought the textbooks for 1/2 my classes. People with this kind of reading capability astound me. :laugh: Maybe it's because pretty much all of my classes have had printable powerpoint slides that I just make into an outline. . . And the fact that nobody tests on the text, just the lecture material. Yay public school and 400+ person classes!

                                                          Looks like I'll have some catching up to do with the reading attention span come next year. :rolleyes:
                                                           

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                                                            little_late_MD said:
                                                            I took a look at your MDApplicants profile, and looking at your GPA I wonder if you regret taking that many credits per term. If you could do it over again, would you rather just take another semester or two?

                                                            I ask because I changed majors my (second) junior year, and had to take 18 credits a term just to graduate in 5 years. I can't even imagine taking 6 classes per term of strictly upper level chem/math.
                                                            little, the main reason my GPA sucks is I messed around 20 years ago the first time I went to college. I actually failed an entire semester's worth of classes back then. I explained this in my profile - and when I went back my grades were mostly A's, a few B's, and two C's. The only regret I have is I got mono one semester when I was taking OChem II, PChem II, dif eq, physiology and adv. calc II (the senior level one) when it was too late to drop classes. So I struggled that semester a little bit (ended up that semester with a 3.0).

                                                            Interestingly, except for the mono semester, the semesters with the highest credit levels were my best semesters. I thrive under pressure :) . If I could do it over again, I would probably take the same classes pretty much the same way. I think I'd take genetics before biochem, however. Or take it at the state university (apparently that biochem class was pretty darn easy) in the summer. My biochem class was almost worse than advanced calc in terms of work.
                                                             
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