Advice for 1st semester of post bacc

Hi all,

I’m starting my post bacc program on 27th (can’t believe it’s finally here!!) with Precalc (which I have no concerns about and expect will be an easy A), and Bio. Having not taken any science courses in many years, I am finding myself with a bit of trepidation about the Bio material. I’d love to hear any advice you might have for performing well in this class, or just a general overview of your experience learning the material.

Thank you in advance for helping me fight off that FUD!


Get ahead, and stay ahead of reading.

Sit in front; get to know your profs.

Take it one day at a time.

I would concur with olderguy’s advice. Regarding the get ahead/stay ahead philosophy; I have always done this in all my classes and it is very helpful. I generally have to sit in front anyhow as I don’t hear that well, but it is no coincidence that studies show that people who sit in the front of class tend to not only participate more but also have a higher GPA. This is of course fairly general advice to school overall, but I can’t really think of anything specific to Bio or the sciences in general at this time.

No worries…I was in the same boat when I started…I was a business major and had not been in school for over 12 years…and I was terribly fearful of ALL science classes…But, I put in 100% effort…studied diligently and it all worked out for me…

I just finished my first year of medical school.

So, it is possible…


Hey Lucy,

Congratulations on taking the jump into your post-bacc program. I was in the same position about a year ago and it was quite an adjustment having been out of school for about 12 years or so. I’ve done very well but not without learning a few lessons along the way…

Here are a few things not yet mentioned:

  1. It took me about a month to remember I used to spend hours at a time in a library studying subjects (3 - 4 hour periods). Block out dedicated study time early and stick to it.

  2. Befriending your classmates and networking is the key to survival - knowing the good professors, tricks, free resources, food, etc. Be social and don’t let age stop you. For example - I have not needed to buy books for almost all my classes because of classmates, pdf files, etc. Just today I returned my $160 orgo books because of a classmate gift.

  3. Get to know what your resources are around campus - tutoring services, advising, activities, etc. Your pre-med people don’t have a monopoly on info and often times aren’t the best ones to get you what you need. Example - in my school the engineering school has the best tutors and are available to everybody (if you find out where they are).

    Success isn’t a solitaire game so don’t play it alone.

    BTW Everyone…this my first post…

    I’m R.Eddy in New York City

Welcome, R. Eddy! And, good advice, too! I think you are right about the premeds. At my school, inquiries made to the AMSA on campus were met with silence and then when I went to the office in the union it was non existent! Maybe things changed, but that was irritating. If you’re the premed AMSA president on campus, for example, you should at least make sure the correct office is noted or that emails get replied to or that you inform the premed advisor of what is going on with the organization on campus. So, don’t just focus on the premeds. Engineering students, like R. Eddy points out, and others can sometimes be more approachable and helpful.

I get the feeling with some premeds that they are only out for themselves and just looking to put another position on the med school aps. Some traditional premeds are too caught up in themselves (not all mind you), some think they are God’s gift to the campus, the community, etc. Some are great and just as put off by the other ones as you are. You can spot them if you pay attention and make alliances. I have no issue getting along with my fellow younger students. Be approachable, don’t act like a “typical” premed, and you’ll find lots of like-minded people (premeds and not) to become lab partners with, swap books and tips, complain with, etc. I have found that the “barriers” of age I thought would be there just really aren’t. It gives me hope for my future where there will be lots of younger colleagues many of whom may be my “seniors” when I get to med school, residency and practice. Most of my classmates don’t care, or really notice, that I’m 35 or that I have a kid and on a second career path. It’s important to keep in mind, that, yeah, some of those annoying premeds are out there but they are not necessarily the norm. They are just so stuck on themselves and such know-it-alls that they stick out more than the other nice, unassuming students that you want to get to know. At any rate, when it comes down to it, your maturity will go a long way because these traditional students are people we will be working with to manage the lives of our patients.

As for academics, set aside time to study and do not underestimate how much time you will need for it. My summer physics class was incredibly time consuming, but because I erred on the side of caution I set enough time aside and found there were moments left in the day I could use for something other than physics. I could have gone the other way, though, and worked more, committed more to other things and I would have been in a bad situation as a result. So, my best advice is be open to your classmates, but be wary of some of the more vocal premeds who want to remind everyone else every second of the day how special they are. Some can even go out of their way to steer other students in the wrong direction as a form of sabotage. It’s ridiculous, but happens. So, be careful who you get help from if you need it. I, personally, as a rule don’t ask for advice or help from any fellow student. Hands down. I just don’t do it. I don’t mind a group of people working together to figure stuff out, but if you really need help in any area schedule an appt. with your prof or please go to a reputable tutor. Even TA’s are not necessarily the best so start at the top if you are struggling.

I can’t underline it enough: give yourself tons of time! It’s better to overestimate than find yourself scrambling. Best of luck!