Course schedule

With regards to post-bacc coursework - how much is too much?
I want to be challenged but not overwhelmed. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so there’s little sense in overburdening myself to get somewhere a year faster. On the other hand - I want to demonstrate to med schools that I can succeed with a difficult courseload.
Regardless of the “not required but recommended” courses I take, I expect to be in a position to apply to med schools as of Summer, 2007. The question is how many other courses to take - to get a better understanding of the material, as well as to prove that despite previous poor performance, I really can hack it. Also, the more courses I take, the more I can raise my lackluster GPA.
This semester (similar to last), I’m taking 2 courses w/ labs at the local CC, in addition to working full time. I expect to be a full-time student as of this fall.
UCF’s Molecular & Microbiology advisors have been helpful in discussing the requirements and recommendations (for example, they recommend a higher level & more medically useful course than Bio II), but I don’t feel they understand the non-tradtional perspective as well as the members here.
So, with all that… what do you think of this schedule?:
Summer 06 - Bio I w/ lab, work full time

4 units

Fall 06 - Organic Chem I (no lab)
Fall 06 - Genetics (no lab)
Fall 06 - Microbiology w/ lab
Fall 06 - Physics I w/ lab (physics for NON-engineers)

15 units

Spring 07 - Organic Chem II w/ 6-hr lab
Spring 07 - Physics II w/ lab (for non-engineers)
Spring 07 - (Vertebrate Histology w/ lab) OR (Neurobiology, no lab)

13 units

Summer 07 - MCAT


Wow, pi, that’s a pretty intense schedule. But if you feel that you can handle it and make all As and Bs, more power to you. How many classes have you been taking per semester up to this point?

Definitely a pretty intense schedule. It can be done - I took a similar schedule myself. My biggest question is on the Ochem. I’m assuming that you are planning to take both labs the same semester/quarter. Are you sure that your school allows you to take both labs simultaneously? Often the second lab builds on concepts from the first lab. Organic chem lab is quite a bit different than gen chem lab.
Also - you might want to talk to some people who have taken/are taking the labs. I found organic lab to be very time consuming. Pre-labs and lab reports are very extensive. Ask around what kind of time you can expect to put in doing lab reports and etc. Labs in general chew up a lot of time. So, you really need to sit down and look at how many hours a week you are actually going to be spending in class and how much work the various labs require outside of class. Are you going to have enough time to study and adequately prepare?
Obviously, the intensity/time commitment required for lab can vary from school to school, so I encourage you to ask around and find out how they are at your school.
Good luck!

Thanks for the quick responses
The lab setup with OChem is the only way it’s offered here (University of Central Florida), which I found kind of surprising. I have Tuesday set aside for nothing but OChem lab.
It makes sense to find out what I can from UCF students with first-hand knowledge of the coursework there. I’ll see what I can do along those lines.
For recent perspective, Fall 05 was my first semester back to school. I worked full time and took A&P1 w/ lab, as well as two online courses: Human Nutrition and Developmental Psych. I was pleased to find that I’ve learned time management skills in the last 5 years :stuck_out_tongue:
This semester is full time work, plus A&P2 w/ lab and Chem 2 w/ lab.
I’ve done well in both semesters, and while neither compares directly to a load of O-Chem plus… well, I figure I spent 40 hours a week working that I can now dedicate to school. That should be at least two courses worth
Perhaps I’m overreaching, which would probably be worse than under-~. I suppose I feel a need to prove myself, demonstrate that I’m capable of exceeding the demands of a rigorous courseload. I can only imagine that that’s in line with what med schools are looking for (?).

By “doing well” what do you mean? if you got A’s in ALL classes then yes, this insane schedule of yours “might” work but if you did not get A’s in ALL courses then I would NOT even consider this insanity. I tell you what, I would not consider this EVEN if you got A’s in all your courses so far. Taking TWO classes of science with labs is NOT the same as taking FOUR. You NEED to demonstrate academic prowess and there is NO ROOM FOR ERROR with non-trads. The adcoms will expect that you only bite what you can chew because we are more nature no? be extremely careful in assuming.

Good points to keep in mind, efex - thanks. I did try to split up the labwork, with microbio + physics 1 semester, and orgo + physics another. I appreciate the feedback in trying to determine how doable this is.
For what it’s worth, by “doing well” in this case, I mean all As, with about half my final averages over 100 .

While I do agree that O-chem is a major x-factor, and the course you really need to think about when deciding if this schedule will work out well or not, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the schedule insane.
I’m taking 3 lab classes right now (Gen Chem II, Gen Bio II, Anatomy & Physiology I) plus an EMT-B course. I’m also an in-class tutor (basically T.A.) for a lower level gen chem I course, which means I attend all of their classes and labs as well, and working an additional 18 hours a week or so as a science tutor in the academic success center of 1 of my 2 schools. I’m also getting straight A’s without much of a problem at all, other than needing to make sure I put enough time in to the Anatomy class before tests. Origin+insertion+action does not come quite as naturally as other things
Mainly, if I were you I’d do everything I can to get a feel now for what O-chem will be like. I’d also try to track down the instructors for the lab classes and find out exactly what their courses will entail - lab courses are not all created equal. One of my labs this semester requires zero formal lab reports, but rather has us maintain a lab notebook in a semi-formal style. This only requires 30 minutes or so before each lab, generally, and the same amount of time or less after lab as long as I maintain it well during the lab. Another course requires 2 long, formal reports, and much shorter more perfunctory efforts for the other labs. And since A&P is actually split up into A the first semester and P the second, while we do have plenty of lab time we have no lab reports required…
The schedule you have in mind looks very similar to my plans for next year, so I’d say as long as O-chem isn’t too terrible for you, it looks fine. But checking on the specifics of those lab classes isn’t a bad idea. I did that with my intended courses, and it did give me a little bit extra peace of mind, which is never a bad thing

To me the insanity of it is due to taking four science classes that are not the easiest with some labs in there *and working full time where I am assuming you actually have to work right? this is not the same as having some full time job where you can sit around and study…that is why I said “insane”. Also there is just NO need to go about this all rush rush like this IMHO. Sure, there are some folks that are very capable of doing this and I am NOT insinuating he/she is not capable but why do it? if you can take your time maybe do some volunteering/clincial work/etc? I mean there is only so much time in one day. If you work full time (40hr/week) and four science classes with labs (although I saw that not all have labs) and volunteer and shadow and do homework to me that IS alot. I mean save all that for medical school when you will have no choice with your time…that is all. But hey to each it’s own.

I inferred from the original post that pi was NOT going to be working full time while taking the insane course load. Did I infer incorrectly? Trying to work full time AND do this course load puts a little different spin on it . . . after all there are only so many hours in the day! I worked while doing my course load, but fortunately my job was such that I often had a lot of time to study.

Ah, I should clarify - I’m working full time now and taking classes. Come fall, I won’t be working, just doing school.
I don’t know that I’ll be doing more than intermittent volunteer work, which may look bad for me; on the other hand, I work at a not-for-profit community mental health center, which I feel shows dedication to the community.
I’m working on some shadowing, and I may end up putting in a few hours of work if they need me in the fall. But yeah - working full time with a full courseload would be insane
I find that if I tell myself “I may as well take advantage of [not having to do X] while I can,” I never get it done. I think a science-intensive courseload will prove - to me as well as med schools - that I’ll be able to hack it. To be honest, what scares me more than OChem2 is Bio1… Bio1 is across town at 8 in the morning, and I am NOT a morning person in any concievable way, shape, or form. That’s something else I have to change… so I’m taking Bio1 at 8 across town at 8 in the morning.
I’m a he, by the way

OK my bad. This makes more sense then…yeah then this is for sure more doable although four science classes is still pretty intense. Usually most folks try to “sprinkle” the science classes with some non-science classes to soften the curriculum. Also as you go up in the courses from frosh to soph/junior classes they do get much more involved…good luck!

Ok, Bio 1 out of the way And in two weeks, I start school full time!

Given all of the feedback, I’ll likely be replacing one of my fall courses with something along the lines of Intro to Pharmacology or Medical Terminology - interesting stuff, just not one of the “hard sciences” per se.

Currently, the plan is :

Fall 06 - Organic Chem I (no lab)

Fall 06 - Genetics (no lab) -

Fall 06 - Microbiology w/ lab -

Fall 06 - Physics I w/ lab (for non-engineers)

15 units

Physics and Organic need to be taken here, so no change on those.

Of Microbiology or Genetics, which would serve me better in the long run?

Personally, I’m more interested by Genetics, though that course is offered more frequently (so I may be able to pick it up in Spring, or next Summer, perhaps).

Any thoughts?


Wow, Adam, that’s quite a load of courses–2 science with labs, 2 science without labs. Will you be doing the MCAT next year?

[quote=pi1304Of Microbiology or Genetics, which would serve me better in the long run?

Personally, I’m more interested by Genetics, though that course is offered more frequently (so I may be able to pick it up in Spring, or next Summer, perhaps).

Any thoughts?


Hm. Tough call. Both will be useful. It may depend on how rigorous the courses are. You definitely can't go wrong with genetics - over the course of my first year there has been a LOT of genetics and molecular biology integrated in various units. I say if you find genetics more interesting, then go for the genetics.
  • ttraub Said:
Wow, Adam, that's quite a load of courses--2 science with labs, 2 science without labs. Will you be doing the MCAT next year?

I'm looking at a Summer 2007 MCAT, yeah.

I'll probably be dropping the courseload down a notch and replacing either Micro or Genetics - thanks for the advice on that, Amy. There's just so much stuff I want to learn... check out this list of meaningful unrestricted electives for preprofessional students !

For what it’s worth, I think genetics will be more useful for the MCAT. The review of transcription, translation, and replication is helpful.

Thanks again for all of the input I’m still somewhat torn between losing Micro or Genetics; they both interest me, but I think it will be necessary to give myself at least a little break.

To think “out loud,” as it were…

Micro is 5 credits and includes a lab; so dropping it would free up more time. It would also mean I end up with ~13 credits this semester instead of 15; is this a big deal?

Micro seems like it might be better for the long run - med school and beyond.

I’m more interested in Genetics; it’s 3 credits (with the option of an additional 1 from an optional lab that I had not been planning on taking). It’s the only class I have Tues/Thurs mornings, so dropping that would free me up until 2 on Tues and 6 on Thurs. That might allow me to fit some work in… or it might allow me to throw my sleep schedule off. I’ve always just kind of wanted to learn more about this, ever since I studied Mendelian inheritance in high school. Will I have more of an opportunity in the future, assuming I don’t ever fit it in my (second) undergrad?

Amy says both will be useful as far as med school; Denise says genetics will help more on the MCAT. Hm… still torn

For what it’s worth, I’m not going to lose too much sleep over this; I’m going to do all I can to make the best decision possible and move on. I’m sure either one will work out well. Of course, I still welcome any feedback

If you’re torn, go for the one that pulls you. You seem fonder of Genetics.