For Mary R Richard B

Naturally, I won’t limit this question to Mary or Richard. Just from reading their posts over the past several months, they seem to be quite dialed in on their advice; striking a balance between “Rah, rah you can overcome anything” to “Get your head out of your arse.”

Here’s the situation:

    Took general biology as pre-req to bio I over the summer and earned an "A."

    Took chem I over the summer and earned an "A."

    Taking 11 credits this fall: chem II, bio I and pre-calc.

    Working a full-time job and which has had me on traveling a bit over the past month.

    Typical family obligations as husband and father of two (ages 10 & 6).

    Have a solid A in biology and should have an A in pre-calc (prof is slow to grade).

    Hanging on to a B by the skin of my teeth in chem II. Concepts not that difficult, just not getting in the required study time to get the material through my thick head.

    First chem exam: 82. Second chem exam (with little study time): 58. Ouch.

    Running the math, I will have to score in the 90s on the next two exams, quizes and lab to ensure I end the class with a "B".

I'm waffling between my ego pulling a Rocky story and coming back with fantastic scores for the last half of the semester; and my realist saying to cut my losses with a "W" and re-take chem II in the spring with only 7 credits (two classes) for the semester instead of the 11 credits (three classes)I'm taking now.

So there it is: Pride vs. (as Richard says) jumping through the hoop with a good GPA.


If you are unable to change your schedule at all so that you can devote the time needed to gen chem, I’d consider taking the W. There are a couple of good reasons besides the risk of getting a C or lower that I can think of. 1 - you want to learn the concepts in gen chem well so that you do well on the MCAT. 2 - you want to learn the concepts well so that you have a solid background for doing well in ochem. At most schools, the gen chem stuff most necessary for organic is usually covered in gen chem 2.

On the flip side, you may need to be prepared to explain why you took a W. But, assuming the rest of your academic record is decent and you don’t have a bunch of W’s running around, I don’t think it will be a huge issue. Try not to portray it as you dropped it because you didn’t think you would get an “A” and more as a you dropped it because you didn’t have the time to devote to learning the concepts as well as you wanted to.

I’m leaning toward the latter as my rationalization: pacing.

I’m supposed to be volunteering four hours per week this semester and simply have not been able to make the time due to the chem II lecture and lab work. No more online math classes! They take more time than the live class and are essentially self-taught courses…which takes more time!

What I’m finding is that I’m having very little retention of the chem II material. I attribute it all to competing interests for my time.

As a side note, I had some outside consulting/authoring commitments that I had planned on wrapping up before I started down this road to med school in May. Unfortunately, I have not been able to conclude those projects so they’re still competing with study time. I hope to have them wrapped up soon but for now, it’s either a school or project situation. They cannot co-exist so perhaps it is best to swallow some pride, take the W and go for a re-do in the spring and hope to knock it out of the park with an A.

GPA since starting is sitting at a 4.0 (not including a 3.33 undergrad many moons ago).


Emergency!'s advice is golden and she usually says things more succinctly than I. Insert her post here and read it again. The W is small potatoes compared to the downside of not only getting a C in Chem 2 but not learning it very well… OR the downside of killing yourself and never seeing your family in order to pull off the B. I don’t see either of those as good alternatives.

I have to say that after a while, this is what I appreciated about being an OPM. My family obligations FORCED me to make some rational decisions about time and study methods. I wouldn’t have necessarily been as smart about this if I hadn’t been beholden to so many other people.



First, 11 credits is plenty… considering the “crosses you bear”; you are still full time. Your concern is well placed this IS the time when consistency counts but you do have valid issues.

It is always a delicate balancing act… it sounds to me however you are THINKING through this, which in all likelyhood, will lead to the best possible outcome!

Do you think you can pull a 90 in the next two exams? Is there something else you can cut (with the appropriate and timely explanations to those things on the losing end) to make the time for 90% level preparation? I found myself in a similar situation in Gen Chem I and I was able to pull it out of my ass by buckling down in the lab and I also did an “extra credit project” that cost me basically one late nighter…

You might consider a visit with the professor, I have found that often if you have compelling circumstances and honestly share these, many (not all of course) will “work something out”. You might consider tutoring, I know it is sometimes tough to be given “help” by a person closer to your kids age than yours… but that is just one more little advantage.

I will diverge just a bit from others in this thread… I make the “cutoff” for taking a “W” at a “D” or an “F”. A single “C” at this stage (before physics and Organic Chemistry) is not a deal breaker. Just remember this: everyone pretty much gets ONE “freebee” (in my case a C in physics) just be sure not to let it happen again (indicating a pattern)

In my own “open records interview”, a much bigger deal was made about a 20 year old “W”, than my two year old “C”.

I hoped that helped, this in NO way is intended negatively you are approaching this precisely correct!


I’m with the others here; swallow your pride and do what’s right for your career. I know from bitter experience that planning to pull a rabbit out of a hat usually doesn’t work. Exams in gen chem tend to get harder towards the end of the semester, not easier, so tread carefully.

By the way, tutors are a good thing. The way I see it, anyone who knows something I don’t know has something to teach me. I’ve had great luck with tutors decades my junior, too! Best of luck,

Thank you all.

As of today, 80% of me is leaning toward taking the W and re-taking the class in the spring with calc. Taking this approach gives me the first half of spring semester as “review” to better learn the concepts…which at this point, I’ve only been able to lightly engrave on the top of my noggin’.

Terry is correct in that the exams are only getting harder; building on lessons I was only able to get by rote memorization so far. In chem I, I was able to figure out problems I didn’t “get” because I knew the underlying concepts. In chem II, I haven’t had the time to get those concepts and I’m a-hurtin’.

Chem II (at least in the text I had) depends very heavily on getting those first couple of chapters down pat; it does build on those concepts. I’d suggest dropping and putting the effort into your other classes. You’ll be better off in the end.

Just in from my advisor: “It would be prudent to drop the class.”

That cinches it. Bye-bye chem II until spring.

Truly, I don’t think you’ll regret this. Struggling to get by in a core concept class is going to cause you a lot of hurt in the future, whereas postponing in order to really nail the material will pay off. The only pain in postponing is the postponement itself and that is just so small compared to the alternative. Congratulations. You’ll do well in the spring.



That sounds like a reasonable course… you might tuck ALL of this away in your “lessones learned” file… for future planning… and fix the external stuff that boxed you in this time… BEFORE continuing in a big way… (remember the “ONE” freebee).

O chem and physics are coming and on a continuum of time use both are serious time vacuums (O chem likely worse)

Good Luck



Originally, it was to be O chem, calculus and bio II this spring.

Hardey har har har…

Early into this semester I knew that dog wasn’t going to hunt for spring.

Depending on what the advisor suggests at tomorrow’s palaver, here’s where I see the schedule:

Spring '08: Calc & re-do Chem II

Summer I: Physics I (at state college and have instructor lined up…retired physicist, not academician, from the Nevada Test Site who is more concerned about you learning concepts than formulas.)

Summer II: Physics II

Fall '08: O Chem I and Biol II

Spring '09: O Chem II and ??

I was scheduled to take the MCAT in spring '09 but we’ll see what happens now. Amazing what kind of domino affect one class has on the overall schedule.