Ideal 1st Semester Scheduling

I’ve found copious examples of timelines for pre-meds to organize their courseload by, but none specific to non-traditional students.

I plan on achieving a second major, but not an entirely new degree, so many of the suggested spots for gen ed courses/other electives are irrelevant to me.

I’d like to complete the standard prerequisites, as well as some upper-division science courses, and related electives that interest me.

Is this a good/manageable first semester?

  1. Biology 1

  2. Chemistry 1

  3. Precalculus? (I haven’t had it since high school, and have never taken Calc, so I’d like to refresh my math skills)

  4. Psychology 1

  5. A Medical Ethics/Bioethics course of some kind

  6. A “fun” elective - something useful, enjoyable, and not too time-consuming, perhaps improving upon my 2 foreign languages?

    I also plan on continuing to volunteer at hospitals, working part-time (10 hours/week) as a CNA, volunteering as an EMT on a rural ambulance service, beginning research (fingers crossed! I’m psyched about this), participating in student organizations, et cetera.

    Oh, AND having at least a tiny shred of a real life.

    Am I aiming too high?

    I’ve performed well in college before without much effort. Now - a little older and (hopefully) wiser - I’m eager to put some dedication into my studies, but I don’t want to overestimate my abilities and end up with mediocre grades.

    Thoughts? Should I switch sciences around? Take one before another? I’m particularly interested in hearing from those of you who’ve been there.

The looks like at least an 18 credit hour load. I can tell you that I kind of did something similar to that this semester and it was hard to have much time for anything else. Not saying you can’t do it or even that you shouldn’t, but that is a pretty heavy load on top of the work and volunteering, of which I did neither this semester. Also I am assume that the Bio 1 and Chem 1 will have labs and the Pre Cal might even have some sort of recitation session, so that might push the load into the 20+ hour range.

Well, are those Biology and Chemistry classes with lab? And how many credits are they? If the class +lab totals 5 credits, that is too heavy a schedule IMHO. Cause that’s 10 credits of science +9 credits…way too much.I’d think more of the 14-16 credit range would be a bit more doable.


Ha! Whoops. With my liberal arts background, I’m so used to equating 6 classes with 18 hours, the standard amount I took per semester of college.

So maybe four classes then? Bio, Chem, Precalc/Calc, and an elective like Psych? Is it better to take Physics first or put it after advanced math courses?

  • hiphopcrates Said:
Ha! Whoops. With my liberal arts background, I'm so used to equating 6 classes with 18 hours, the standard amount I took per semester of college.

So maybe four classes then? Bio, Chem, Precalc/Calc, and an elective like Psych? Is it better to take Physics first or put it after advanced math courses?

Rule 4: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Rule 5: Do Not Risk Bad Grades By Taking Too Much

Part of the reason that there is no standard course sequence for non-traditional students is each student's situation needs to be evaluated on there implied atypical needs and/or background

You need evaluate long you have been out of school? long has it been since you have had any science course? good/fresh is your student skill set in taking notes, studying from text, taking exams?

4.are you going to school full time?

5.your need, desire, etc on wanting a second major. If you have degree already, what is goal here in a second major?

6.are you aiming for 2 year completions of pre-rec? Or 3 year.

While there are post-bacc that have a single calendar year programs, how you can do so and study, MCAT, Volunteer, apply and have time for luxuries like eating and sleeping is tough for anyone except the most disciplined of students. I think 2 years is minimum time frame, and even that can be a stretch, particularly if you have family and work. Personally, I recommend a 3 year cycle as it isn't simply the amount of work that is a difficult, but the dependencies and timing of the courses and MCAT that are the crux.

The issue is the last term when you will have second semester organic and advanced biology and prep for MCAT at same time. Because of rolling applications, i is strongly advised that you apply early in the application cycle, which means that you take MCAT early as possible. Yet you have to be completed with Organic II to be ready for MCAT

If you are not up to speed on math, then you should take math prior to physics (and chemistry for that matter). If you take Physics your first term with general Bio and general Chem, you'll be back in school starting off with 3 lab courses. Yetif you can possibly take physics your first year, its leaves the second year for Ochem, Advanced Bio and MCAT. Taking Math the summer prior can alleviate this. Of course, probably about half of all medical schools require a semester of calculus at least, which is not a course to take in summer.

There are two other salient points. You need not to simply take these courses but to do exceedingly well. Second, the risk of taking too much is not just simply poor grades but no mechanism to recover. I firmly believe to reduce risk you take less courses over long time span.