Advice on this summer's course selection

I start at the local 4-year state university this summer. I have to take courses because I was admitted for this term. I have orientation in 2 weeks however they want us to have an idea as to what we want to take. I have the following tentative schedule picked out:

Summer A term from 5/17 - 6/25: College Physics I (non calc based)

Summer B term from 6/28 - 8/6: Bio I and College Trig

Any advice/warnings/wisdom/th reats?

(Random notes: I’m a transfer student transferring in with over 90 credits from community college and a 3.9 GPA. Only prereqs done at the CC were English 1 and 2, college algebra and stats. Plan on taking the above math class and “health care research methods” at 4 year inst. to assure competency. about 60-70 of those credits are paramedic school credits. My major is Health Sciences.)

I would recommend taking general chemistry I and II if possible instead. That will give you the most flexibility in deciding when to take the rest of your prereqs (since you have to take Gchem before taking Ochem).

Also, you could theoretically complete the rest of your prereqs next year, apply in June, take the MCAT in June, and finish your degree while you interview, just like trad students do.

Chemistry I is only offered over the regular full Summer semester with a teacher who is rate 1.9 on ratemyprofessor.

As for the degree. I have about 3 years to go to finish that.

Personally I think ANY Physics class will be dodgy without having had Trig ahead of time - if you genuinely remember it from High School then you’re probably good to go. I took trig the semester before Physics I and was glad I did. (If you DON’T remember it, I recommend getting a Trig textbook and looking through the first third of it, especially the basic functions, the unit cirle, radians, angular velocity…and also the easier but essential geometry sort of stuff like pythagorean theorem, law of sins and cosines. It’s not hard, it’s just essential. Oh, and actually graphing the functions is key to sound/waves/etc. Yeah, you must have some trig first, the more I think about it.)

As for Bio 1 - I took Bio 1 and 2 over the summer and it was more or less a breeze (DEFINITELY the easiest pre-req IMHO). So far the most difficult pre-req I’ve done (and I’m finishing them up this semester) was Gen Chem 2 (over a six week summer session.) (But the teacher was the hardest in our school’s chemistry department. That class was one of those worst experiences/best experiences kind of things, like climbing a mountain or something. But it was probably just a worst/worst experience for virtually everyone else in the class that got C’s and D’s. I’ve never worked so hard for an A in my life.)

In general, I gotta say I LOVE summer classes. It forces you to give it all you’ve got, and that’s the way to succeed anyway. Good luck!

Hey, Matt. It’s a little difficult to give too much direction seeing as we don’t know which classes are available. I would piggyback Superoxide’s comments that an complete and solid understanding of trigonometry is essential to getting an A in physics (including algebra-based physics). I would strongly advise any student against taking physics without that understanding. The other thought I have regarding your schedule is the breaking up of physics, which I’d do my best to avoid.

Without knowing what’s offered that’s as much advice as I can give–sorry! However, just another word of caution…consider the ratings on ratemyprofessor with a grain of salt. I believe, more often than not, students who are unhappy are highly over represented in the stats. Also, college students are notorious for wanting professors to be easy. However, at this stage of the game, it won’t benefit you a whole lot to have that–you need courses which will challenge you to learn and produce so that you are prepared for your life as a medical student.

Thanks guys.

I guess I’ll have to postpone physics however there is nothing else really I can take this summer. I really wanted to get either a physics or chem class banged out this summer so I didn’t have to take Physics and Chem together twice with this fall being Bio2, Chem 1, PHY 1 :-|. Logically it makes sense: Take physics without a trig knowledge base to avoid taking it twice with chem OR take it twice with chem with a good math refresh and trig foundation. It seems better to have the solid foundation and hectic fall and spring then to risk fighting for a B- or worse.

My only other option is that I can take Chem I over the full summer term. I am 23 and haven’t had chemistry since I was 17. What do you guys think?

I would seriously consider it. Think about it this way - the other scenario would have you just getting Bio 1 and Trig done anyway… Take Chem 1 over the course of the whole summer (I’m assuming you wouldn’t take Bio 1 as well) and you only get Chem 1 and Trig done, same net pre-req yield. At my school Chem 1 is a pre-req for Bio 1 anyway.

Chem 1 and Trig this summer sounds like a good idea to me. And don’t fear your time away from Chemistry - for an intelligent person, Gen Chem 1 feels like it gives you all you need, i.e. your background as is should be perfectly sufficient. And mathwise all you need is pre-calc algebra (and honestly, not extensively at that…most of the math in Gen Chem 1 is doing conversions and basic equations, Gen Chem 2 requires logs/graphing skills/basic quadratics, but also isn’t hairy. The math in chemistry isn’t difficult.)


How confident do you feel in your math abilities? The reason I ask is that both physics and chem are really just a little more extensive word problems. I think the ease of the math in either of these courses is relative–some people find it very easy, some find it very difficult.

It looks like it will be a very similar schedule for you either way you go, unless you’re thinking you can do the gen chem course for the full summer and then add bio 1 and trig for the last part of the summer. I’m not saying this is a good or bad idea, I really believe it is student and school dependent. I think I’d feel very comfortable with that load, others will think you’re nuts for considering it (if it’s even an option). When I returned to school at the age of 33 I took gen chem 1 and 2 with labs along with calculus 1 during the summer and felt very much at ease, but I felt I could still handle algebra and trig without too much difficulty. Others in my chem class really struggled just keeping up with chem alone because they didn’t have the math confidence/background/ski lls/whatever-you-want-to- call-it.

Whatever you decide, choose a schedule that will allow you to do well in your classes–you don’t want to have to explain multiple B’s or even a single C in science prereqs on your transcript to the adcoms. Getting in is tough enough without that baggage if you can at all avoid it.

I really appreciate the input. The trouble I’m having is assessing how to approach it. I haven’t done college Algebra for over a year however my strongest subjects were always math and science. Granted I’m usually slower then most at both but I’ve only gotten A’s because I try my best to make up for it with persistence.

What I’m fighting with is that I am a health sciences major. I plan on attending school full time while working an average of 20 hours a week. My degree includes classes in genetics, biochem, A&P, Nutrition, Research and other upper level sciences and what not. I think taking some heavy classes concurrently is inevitable. With that said, if there is ever a term to get right, it is the first term back to full time, first term at a 4 year D1 school in the summer and first term as a premed (a lot of confidence riding on this). I’m pretty sure I have to take a chemistry placement test so pending that, I may choose chem I and trig with a non science course in summer A.

Keep the advice coming if you have some.