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What would you have done differently?

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Alaunus

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Hi i will be a freshmen in a university starting this fall and i wanted to ask you guys what would you have done differently if you had the chance to go back in time to your freshmen year in college. Any tips or insights will be helpful as well.

Thank you!!! :D
 
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phnerd1105

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Hi i will be a freshmen in a university starting this fall and i wanted to ask you guys what would you have done differently if you had the chance to go back in time to your freshmen year in college. Any tips or insights will be helpful as well.

Thank you!!! :D

Start volunteering early, and not screw up my first semester due to partying. :oops:
 

Alaunus

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Start volunteering early, and not screw up my first semester due to partying. :oops:

Would a hospital be a good place to volunteer because i feel like if i volunteer there for a year or two they will let me shadow some doctor's later on...good idea or no?
 

phnerd1105

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Would a hospital be a good place to volunteer because i feel like if i volunteer there for a year or two they will let me shadow some doctor's later on...good idea or no?

Sure, you need clincial volunteering. However, make sure you get lots of NON clinical volunteering as well to show your various interests
 

cowsgomuon

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Asked for letters of recommendation as soon as a class/activity ended. It's good for the recommender to have you and what you did fresh in their mind. Even if you don't end up using the letter, it's still good to have it on file. Even if you did well in a professor's class, and they really liked you as a student, it's really, really difficult to remember specifics 4 years later --> generic LOR.
 

TTigers70

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Asked for letters of recommendation as soon as a class/activity ended. It's good for the recommender to have you and what you did fresh in their mind. Even if you don't end up using the letter, it's still good to have it on file. Even if you did well in a professor's class, and they really liked you as a student, it's really, really difficult to remember specifics 4 years later --> generic LOR.

+1

As far as coursework goes, don't be afraid to take some different classes. I was able to take some classes just out of interest when I started at college. However, as things got more heated with upper-level science electives and such I definitely sacrificed taking cool classes like a random philosophy or art class.

I may have got into research sooner if I could do it again. All the opportunities I had to get into a lab were either in areas I wasn't interested in (i.e. anything related to plant biology...) or would put me in a clerical role with a chance to actually get my hands dirty so to say.

Otherwise, do you. Don't turn into a checklist!
 

noquarter1

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i think you'll find common themes. too many pre meds (like me) wait too long to try and do everything. do the following:

-study hard, and get good grades in all your classes (especially your science)
-volunteer in your community every so often
-shadow a doc every so often
-build relationships with the teachers you know you will be taking many classes from, so you can ask for LOR's later
-get involved in some society, to set yourself up with a leadership position later in your college career.
-be yourself, and have your hobbies/fun

if you do these things, you'll have no trouble getting into med school.
 

TribalSeeds

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get involved early. i'm stuck doing a ton of stuff in one or two years, and it is way too much.
 

0919mmk

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i think you'll find common themes. too many pre meds (like me) wait too long to try and do everything. do the following:

-study hard, and get good grades in all your classes (especially your science)
-volunteer in your community every so often
-shadow a doc every so often
-build relationships with the teachers you know you will be taking many classes from, so you can ask for LOR's later
-get involved in some society, to set yourself up with a leadership position later in your college career.
-be yourself, and have your hobbies/fun

if you do these things, you'll have no trouble getting into med school.


+1 - especially the bolded. Don't get s**t grades, and do stuff that you can really get in to.
 

raltima07

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But most importantly enjoy college. These four (three or five) years of your life are going to be awesome. I was at graduation yesterday (not mine, the year above me), and it was so sad. I would suggest getting involved with everything on campus, and become a part of the school. ENJOY IT - med school will always be there, college will go by. This doesn't mean do bad - it means do good and don't be a checklist
 

cnfz

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I would have joined a fraternity.
 

Alaunus

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+1 - especially the bolded. Don't get s**t grades, and do stuff that you can really get in to.

Thanks will bodybuilding count as a hobby to put on the application because it takes enormous amounts of time and dedication.:thumbup:
 

a winner is you

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Take more BS classes, because nobody cares what classes you take, just your GPA.
 
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Alaunus

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Take more BS classes, because nobody cares what classes you take, just your GPA.

:laugh: are you serious so as long as i have the pre-requisites i can take any easy class i want...but won't they want to take somebody who took harder classes then me?
 

2sk0ol4c0ol

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:laugh: are you serious so as long as i have the pre-requisites i can take any easy class i want...but won't they want to take somebody who took harder classes then me?

In truth the 300, 400 level classes aren't more difficult. They simply denote a class that require pre-requisites and are taught with the basic assumption that you've accumulated so much knowledge.

For example a class called math 223 is has a higher ranking the MA 165 both are calc classes and 165 is significantly harder. The difference being the calc 223 is or business majors and assumes familiarity with a few economic concepts (i.e mathematic formulas you'll see in econ) while 165 is just plain and simple calculus.

As such there will be a number of 300 and 400 levels that are 'joke' BS classes. So you can take upper level work that sounds difficult but is really cake. So i you get the impression that you can take all 100 level classes and the adcoms will be cool with that think again.

PS most majors require a certain number of hours at the 300 and 400 level, so there is just no avoiding these.
 

noquarter1

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:laugh: are you serious so as long as i have the pre-requisites i can take any easy class i want...but won't they want to take somebody who took harder classes then me?

major in what you want. if you want to be a dance major, go for it. but make sure you take all the prereqs, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a few extra science classes just to show you are capable/serious about med school.

how much ya bench? *said with swagger as i stand by the drinking fountain*
 

SarahBellum1

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I wish someone would have pounded it into my head how difficult it was to get into med school and how important grades are. I mean, I knew it wasn't easy...duh...and I was probably really naive, but I didn't realize how hard I had to work to be a really competitive applicant. I figured since I blew through high school with no problem, I could do the same in college with the same study habits. So, I continued in college to study only the night before every college exam (including all my science classes...idiot...), thinking I would have the same success. False...I got stuck in that habit and ended up with mostly B's and a few C's (and some A's) over the past 3 years, so now I am kicking myself and trying to make up for it at the last minute (I'll be a senior). I also play a varsity sport, so that limited my time to study too. So be sure to study in advance (not all at once the night before), and manage your time wisely, and just make sure to get as many A's as possible right at the start...
 

r1012

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Prioritize. Never feel pressured to do ECs (and especially not going out/partying) at the expense of your grades/MCAT studying. There's always another weekend to go out and party, but unless you have a time machine, you can't go back and study more. That being said, find a balance - exercise, have your hobbies/ECs that will keep you sane when you have 3 exams and a term paper to write within a week. Also, get involved with research and/or find internships that interest you early on and build a working relationship with a couple professors over your academic career. Good luck!
 

Mac Blade

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Take this advice with a grain of salt, since it's coming from someone only a year ahead of you. With that in mind, appreciate that my opinions on the last year relate to my current perspective on recent events; I have no way to know what kinds of dividends the sacrifices I made will ultimately pay. Foremost, you should study hard - don't take cruising to As as a given. Before anything else your freshman year: have fun. Get settled into the rhythm of college life, establish a routine, make friends. If that involves clubs/service organizations, great, you're killing two birds with one stone. If it just means using your free time to chill with your friends in the dorm, that's cool too, 4 years is plenty of time to volunteer/shadow/join organizations/etc. There's a tendency among those like you and myself to become too singularly focused on preparing for med school too early in our undergraduate careers. Join organizations because they sound fun, or you're truly interested, not because it will look good later. I think that's huge for med school adcoms - demonstrating what you did really impacted your growth as a person and that you loved what you did.

My freshman year, I neglected the part where I was supposed to have fun. I worried way too much about school, I compete at a top 10 DI program in my sport, and the added pressure merely increased my stress further. Simultaneously, I stretched myself way too thin by joining a virology lab. I've been interested in clinical virology since high school, and don't get me wrong I love working in my lab. My PI is so chill, he doesn't mind if I only come in an hour or two a week, but I put it on myself to do a lot: to learn as many protocols as I could, to always stay current reading the field journals, etc. Looking back, I realize I had sort of killed all the healthy outlets I had for stress, and the stress began to wear me down by the end of the year.

I didn't mean for this response to ramble on like that. I suppose, state more succinctly, what I mean't to say is that you should first focus on making good grades, but don't kill yourself over one or two Bs. Second, find some outlets for your stress and just have fun. In some ways, I feel like I lost a year that could have been really great by putting undue pressures on myself. Don't do that.
 
D

deleted393595

Thanks will bodybuilding count as a hobby to put on the application because it takes enormous amounts of time and dedication.:thumbup:

Yes. And it will look especially more impressive if you compete.
 

Thornwalker

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Take more BS classes, because nobody cares what classes you take, just your GPA.


Quoted for truth. As someone whose been accepted this cycle (after going through grad school and a "gap" year) no one cares about what classes you take. And if, by chance they do that's a low on their priority list and easily explained away by "I wanted to get involved in more ECs/ research/etc etc".

I bought into the whole "you have to take harder classes because you're a premed" thing and it just sucks. Seriously, why did i have to take the engineering calculus and the physics majors physics?? Take the easiest of these more difficult classes you can fine - their still calc and physics. I saw my friends breeze through these with A's with 1/2 the material and 1/4 of the work whereas I struggled to get that B- with the really hard engineering calc class that drug down my science GPA.

Also, I would highly recommend taking the MCAT after your sophomore year if you plan on going straight though. Right after you finish taking ochem and physics (physics was my hardest section), and you'll probably have a bio class or two and only a year out of gchem. Why wait an extra year and have to work to relearn all that physics/ochem crap?? Get a cush research job for a professor (doesn't matter what) for 10-20hrs a week, and study for the MCAT all summer (because you won't have to take it earlier in the year in time for the app cycle) and take it in August before you go back. Bam. If you score great then you're done, and the MCAT will last you by the time your ready to apply the next cycle. And, if you fail, you'll have a WHOLE year to improve/identify weakness/ come up with a study plan (use EK btw, don't blow 2Gs on a kaplan course). The two most important things in your app are GPA and MCAT. Then comes the personal statement and ECs. Don't sacrifice your GPA/MCAT for ECs/research - those are easy to make up - GPA/MCAT not so much.

College is a blast. Get involved in activities you enjoy, gain some leadership experiences if possible but don't stab people in the back to do so. It's not the end of the world if you don't get to be the bio society president (side note: major in something other than bio - do you really want to take classes on plant physiology??). Be humble in your journey, help people out whenever possible and network your ass off (without being annoying). These things will open doors for you that you never thought possible.


TL;DR
-ratemyprofessor.com will save your life (and your GPA)
-Take the MCAT after your sophomore year if possible, study all summer and knock it out of the park.
-College years are the best years of your life so enjoy them. Just don't "overindulge" to much.
-Be humble, network and above all don't be a tool.
 

Alaunus

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Quoted for truth. As someone whose been accepted this cycle (after going through grad school and a "gap" year) no one cares about what classes you take. And if, by chance they do that's a low on their priority list and easily explained away by "I wanted to get involved in more ECs/ research/etc etc".

I bought into the whole "you have to take harder classes because you're a premed" thing and it just sucks. Seriously, why did i have to take the engineering calculus and the physics majors physics?? Take the easiest of these more difficult classes you can fine - their still calc and physics. I saw my friends breeze through these with A's with 1/2 the material and 1/4 of the work whereas I struggled to get that B- with the really hard engineering calc class that drug down my science GPA.

Also, I would highly recommend taking the MCAT after your sophomore year if you plan on going straight though. Right after you finish taking ochem and physics (physics was my hardest section), and you'll probably have a bio class or two and only a year out of gchem. Why wait an extra year and have to work to relearn all that physics/ochem crap?? Get a cush research job for a professor (doesn't matter what) for 10-20hrs a week, and study for the MCAT all summer (because you won't have to take it earlier in the year in time for the app cycle) and take it in August before you go back. Bam. If you score great then you're done, and the MCAT will last you by the time your ready to apply the next cycle. And, if you fail, you'll have a WHOLE year to improve/identify weakness/ come up with a study plan (use EK btw, don't blow 2Gs on a kaplan course). The two most important things in your app are GPA and MCAT. Then comes the personal statement and ECs. Don't sacrifice your GPA/MCAT for ECs/research - those are easy to make up - GPA/MCAT not so much.

College is a blast. Get involved in activities you enjoy, gain some leadership experiences if possible but don't stab people in the back to do so. It's not the end of the world if you don't get to be the bio society president (side note: major in something other than bio - do you really want to take classes on plant physiology??). Be humble in your journey, help people out whenever possible and network your ass off (without being annoying). These things will open doors for you that you never thought possible.


TL;DR
-ratemyprofessor.com will save your life (and your GPA)
-Take the MCAT after your sophomore year if possible, study all summer and knock it out of the park.
-College years are the best years of your life so enjoy them. Just don't "overindulge" to much.
-Be humble, network and above all don't be a tool.

wow, thank you!!!!:love:

Do you choose what MCAT score you sent to the schools or do they look at all of them, meaning if i take the test twice do i choose what test i get to send to them?
 
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Alaunus

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In truth the 300, 400 level classes aren't more difficult. They simply denote a class that require pre-requisites and are taught with the basic assumption that you've accumulated so much knowledge.

For example a class called math 223 is has a higher ranking the MA 165 both are calc classes and 165 is significantly harder. The difference being the calc 223 is or business majors and assumes familiarity with a few economic concepts (i.e mathematic formulas you'll see in econ) while 165 is just plain and simple calculus.

As such there will be a number of 300 and 400 levels that are 'joke' BS classes. So you can take upper level work that sounds difficult but is really cake. So i you get the impression that you can take all 100 level classes and the adcoms will be cool with that think again.

PS most majors require a certain number of hours at the 300 and 400 level, so there is just no avoiding these.

So how do i find out these "BS 300 and 400 level classes", sorry if i didn't understand because you also tell me not to take the 100 level classes.
 

Thornwalker

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wow, thank you!!!!:love:

Do you choose what MCAT score you sent to the schools or do they look at all of them, meaning if i take the test twice do i choose what test i get to send to them?


No problemo. Hopefully my experiences will save someone some time, GPA points and an additional ~40G's in grad school debt.

The goal is take the MCAT one time because schools will see all the times you've taken it. Each school has different policies on this, some will take only the latest (this is why you don't retake a good score), others will combine the best of each section (rare). Either way, they'll see that you've taken it multiple times.

Of course, after you are done taking the test, before you leave the center you can choose to not get the test graded (if you feel you did really poorly). In that case its 200$ down the drain. You don't have the option of taking it without schools seeing it (when you go to apply that is).



Edit: The way you find the "bs" 300 and 400 level classes is by asking the people above you and using ratemyprofessor.com (i can't underestimate the value of this website). You have to take the lower divisions in your major (gen bio/chem etc) - take the easiest ones possible. Then when it's time to choose an upper division take the easiest one you can find (example - immunology a 400 level class was ridiculously easy whereas classes like developmental bio was notoriously more difficult subject material / professor). Again, ask older students in your department, and ratemyprofessor.com.

Also, taking a class with a 'new' professor is a gamble. Only take a class from a new prof if 1) you can be sure you found their OLD ratemyprofessor or 2) the only other option is take a class from someone that sounds ridiculous hard/lots of work. It's been hit and miss for me on 'new professors'.
 
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Alaunus

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No problemo. Hopefully my experiences will save someone some time, GPA points and an additional ~40G's in grad school debt.

The goal is take the MCAT one time because schools will see all the times you've taken it. Each school has different policies on this, some will take only the latest (this is why you don't retake a good score), others will combine the best of each section (rare). Either way, they'll see that you've taken it multiple times.

Of course, after you are done taking the test, before you leave the center you can choose to not get the test graded (if you feel you did really poorly). In that case its 200$ down the drain. You don't have the option of taking it without schools seeing it (when you go to apply that is).

Thanks again i will be reviewing this thread during the summer with all the great replies.
 

noquarter1

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i'm all for not making life more difficult than it needs to be, but i would caution you about searching for the bs 300 and 400 classes. taking the easy way out might get you through undergrad, but once med school and life hits, it might cause an unwelcome and rude awakening. if you don't learn how to study effectively now, once you finally do get 'real' not bs classes (ie med school) you will be like a fish out of water.
 

curt656

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My advice is NO SLACKING! Don't think that just because you show up for class, take some notes, and understand what is being taught to you as you hear it does not mean you will retain it and do well on tests. READ YOUR TEXTBOOK and do problems until you can't hold a pencil anymore, lol!

It makes me sick seeing all these kids not doing crap and then they wonder why they did not do well on the test, asking me how I am doing so well in the class. I study all the f'n time. Studying can make up for bad instructors any day, and there are a hell of a lot of bad instructors out there.

My other bit of advice is that good grades and a social life do not necessarily go hand in hand. It is okay to reward your hard work and have some fun every now and then, but if you find yourself hanging out with your friends and getting fubar more than you are studying, do not be surprised when you get a C or worse in chemistry or calculus. There is not substitute for good, old fashioned studying. Partying should be the exception, not the rule if you are serious about med school.

Take it for what it's worth, but I speak from many years of experience, lol!
 

curt656

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Also, taking a class with a 'new' professor is a gamble. Only take a class from a new prof if 1) you can be sure you found their OLD ratemyprofessor or 2) the only other option is take a class from someone that sounds ridiculous hard/lots of work. It's been hit and miss for me on 'new professors'.


This is not a bad bit of advice either, although I must say from my experience that it seems like the new professors tend to go easy on their students the first couple of semesters as they want to look good to their department heads by having classes that produce good grades.

Never underestimate a professor looking for tenure!
 

Alaunus

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My advice is NO SLACKING! Don't think that just because you show up for class, take some notes, and understand what is being taught to you as you hear it does not mean you will retain it and do well on tests. READ YOUR TEXTBOOK and do problems until you can't hold a pencil anymore, lol!

It makes me sick seeing all these kids not doing crap and then they wonder why they did not do well on the test, asking me how I am doing so well in the class. I study all the f'n time. Studying can make up for bad instructors any day, and there are a hell of a lot of bad instructors out there.

My other bit of advice is that good grades and a social life do not necessarily go hand in hand. It is okay to reward your hard work and have some fun every now and then, but if you find yourself hanging out with your friends and getting fubar more than you are studying, do not be surprised when you get a C or worse in chemistry or calculus. There is not substitute for good, old fashioned studying. Partying should be the exception, not the rule if you are serious about med school.

Take it for what it's worth, but I speak from many years of experience, lol!

Thank you very much all of this is very useful:)
 

exquisitemelody

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Make sure you study and get good grades but have fun too. You probably have a lot more time than you think you do. Think something interests you? Go do it! There was one activity I didn't do during my undergrad that I regret not doing because I thought I didn't have enough time. I probably could've squeezed it in there if I tried. Have fun though...it goes by fast.

Prepare for the possibility of NOT getting into med school right after undergrad. Find internships, get research experience, do SOMETHING to make yourself marketable after college if you need to.
 

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I wouldn't have waited until the spring semester of my junior year to start studying for the MCAT. I had a 21 credit course load and barely studied. So I took it anyways...realized I messed up really bad when I got it back...studied for only 2 weeks and retook it.

It's a miracle I got in this cycle. :laugh:
 

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I would have majored in engineering or chemistry and taken more humanities and philosophy classes. Also get involved early, try to go aboard at some point. Have fun.
 

zeppelinpage4

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Build a solid GPA your freshman year, it's a great buffer in case you get lower grades later on. However it's not so easy to raise GPA if it is low from the start.

Aside from academics though, I would echo the others saying to enjoy college. I did nothing but study my first semester and really stressed most of the way through sophomore year and looking back the best memories were just chilling out with my buddies outside on a weekend or going to an awesome party.
You should still study hard and give priority to your academics, but it's really easy to get caught up in always trying be at the top of a class. However, college can have a lot of great experiences to offer, a lot of things you may not even be aware of. =]
 

Slobrochill

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Studied less. I know, I know but hear me out.

I believe many pre-meds (myself included) get to a point of saturation and need to realize they have learned the material and step away from it. Then they need to go enjopy the weekend and live a balanced life. Obsessive studying leads to stress and it can actually be detrimental to your academic performance.

Also, take on large meaningful extra curriculars you will remain commited to over the years. Do not involve yourself in millions of small meaningless groups because they will take up so much time and in the end really mean nothing.
 

motomed

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major in something different. you're going to learn medicine in med school, so for now study something else that will benefit you in your medical career and will make you an asset to your medical school classmates. your app will stand out, you'll have different experiences, and if you can sell that these things are meaningful to the practice of medicine, you're golden. try psych, sociology, education, social work, nutrition (not really covered in med school...), economics, philosophy... you'll have plenty of time to get the prereqs in. forget majoring in some version of bio or chem. everyone else will be doing it, and most of the classes you'll take for your major are no more relevant to medicine than anything else you could take in a different major.
 

orthomyxo

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Learn to study in a way that doesn't involve cramming all night up until 5 minutes before the exam. Also, major in something ******edly easy like underwater basket-weaving.
 
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