200 vs 400 level dilemma

I am a post-bac student at the University of Pennsylvania, who has just completed her first semester of classes. I took Cell Biology/Biochemistry, Molecular Cell Biology/Genetics, and Physiology this past semester. All three courses are 200 level courses, and all were requirements for the other upper-level courses Penn offers. I anticipate receiving two A+s, and an A- in these classes. Here’s my dilemma. I have already signed up for a 400-level Biochemistry in the summer. In addition to this, I am trying to decide whether to take a 269 level class or a 404 level class. The 404 class is rumored to be very difficult, whereas the 269 class is much easier. Its costing me a lot of money to take these classes, and I need to do VERY well (pretty much all As) to get my science GPA to where its competitive. I have heard from many med schools that they want to see post bac students taking 400 level courses, not 200 level courses – in order to demonstrate that we are competitive. However, my advisor here at Penn feels that I should not worry about this because the program here is supposedly well-known and a 200-level class from Penn is comparable to a 400 level class anywhere else. I am not sure what to do. I dont want to risk lowering my GPA by taking the difficult 404 class, but I don’t want to waste my money by taking classes that med schools don’t consider very telling of my abilities. So, for the summer, is it better to risk getting a B+/B in a 400 level class, or to bypass the risk and go for the certain A in the 200 level class? (I should add that I am aplanning on taking three 400 level courses in the fall.)

Hi there,
Your advisor has given you good advice. Stop worrying about the course number and keep your grades up. Many times the course content in a 200-level course is much higher than a 400 or 700-level course. This is especially true of graduate-level course where you end up doing more paper-writing than course content.
Take your courses where you will do the best. Make sure that they are of sufficient content to give you the most for your money and do well. Since you are doing “damage control” you need to get the most for your money and improve your knowlege base and GPA at the same time.
Good luck!

Hi…I, too, agree with Nat and with your advisor. Also, because schools have such different ways to indicating “lower level” classes vs “upper level” classes, I don’t think most med schools spend a lot of time assessing which is which for each applicant. Do the best you can in the classes that you are taking.