Lack of Direction in Classes

So, this semester I am taking Organic II and Cell Biology. I really enjoyed my classes last semester (Biology II and Organic I. Both had assigned homework, one of which counted towards our grade (Biology II) whereas the other homework directly mirrored what would be on the exam (Organic I).

However, this semester, I am not being given any help by the professors regarding what to study and what problems to do in the book. The Organic II professor just tells me to “do the problems at the end of the chapter” and there are over 60 problems. I tried to do them last week and started freaking out since I couldn’t do the very difficult ones without looking back for help from the book for some reactions.

So, what is ending up happening is that I am less passionate about the classes and studying less, which then causes me to question my dreams and everything I’m doing with my rationale being “if I can’t do this, how could I possibly do well in medical school?”

Do you guys have any suggestions as to how to make this situation better?

I know this question might be similar to the previous poster, but I thought because it was specifically related to class work, I should/could make a separate post?

I hate to say it but it really important that you can study and learn on your own without guidance. I would follow the prof’s advice and do all the questions at the end of each chapter. Start with the easier ones and progress to the harder ones. If you need to look at the answers that is OK, just make sure you understand the answer. If you don’t - get help (from prof, tutor, classmates). Then before your exam do the questions over again - maybe not all but a smattering again going easy to hard. That’s what I did for Organic, particularly because there was a TA strike right in the middle and the University closed down for 2 months. I just had to keep plugging away on my own. It was hard so I know what you mean, but in the end I had my best marks in that class.

Then try to picture your end goal to keep yourself motivated. Believe me, once you are in medical school you will have many instances of being absolutely buried and thinking “why am I doing this?” You’ve got to be able to see yourself (in your mind) at the end of the journey. I also find that a shadowing experience or volunteer work reminds me of why I am doing this.

Sorry if this isn’t what you are looking for, but it worked for me.


Hey, sadako12. Forge ahead! That is my advice. It stinks to have a less than helpful professor, but it happens. It is important to keep your goals in mind and do whatever necessary to learn the material and do well. Some professors know their subject incredibly well, but have zero passion for teaching and therefore stink at it. So be it. It’s not about them, it’s about you and you have to do what you have to do. I would recommend checking out the internet for help, tutorials, etc. and are two I can think of. There are others. If you have not already, search YouTube and you will find all kinds of help, too! Check out some books at your library and if they are super helpful, buy them cheap (or not: these are your grades: do what you can!) on Amazon, ebay, etc. Organic Chem as a Second Language is good and I think there is a Org. Chem II as a 2nd Language. I have heard Barron’s E-Z Organic Chem is good, too. If need be, find a tutor. Talk to your fellow students, too! If you feel this way, chances are some of your classmates do, too. Maybe you can form a study group.

Whatever you do, remember that this is your life, your dream and your path. It’s up to you to strive in less than perfect situations and make your dream happen. I completely understand getting disenchanted w/ coursework when your instructor is less than stellar. I had some fellow students agonizing over having to teach themselves physics because the teacher was so awful and unhelpful, but those who wanted to succeed found a way to make it work. I was lucky enough not to be in that class, but I’ve been in similar situations. It stinks, but you have to make do.

As for having to looking back in the book to help you out with homework, I say so what? But, keep at it. It’s a learning process. I don’t think anyone expects to go through a chapter and do the end of chapters problems perfectly the first time (or 2nd or 3rd, etc depending on the subject!), but that is why practice, practice, practice is so important.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but rather let you know that I understand those times when you feel discouraged and dispassionate, and that is normal. However, keep your eye on your goal and remind yourself that you will do whatever it takes to succeed. If you are worried you’ve lost your passion, take a mental break from medicine. It’s hard to do, but maybe it’s something to try. Or, look for inspiration to reignite your passion for medicine. All I need to do is watch an old episode of ER and I am back in the game, reminded of where I want to be and what I want to do and that I will do whatever it takes to get there. Maybe you have a similar tool to reinforce your dreams?

Think about what drew you to this path, evaluate where you are now on that path and decide if you are still keeping in line with your ultimate goal or if your focus has shifted. Only you will know what is right for you, but it sure can take some contemplation and self honesty to figure that out! Tough to do. It took me too long to get where I am now, but all is not lost.

I am confident in most of us OPMS! We have the drive and the passion and the honesty and insight to know when we have fallen behind or lost our drive and the maturity to evaluate ourselves and get back on track or find another way.

sadako -

I’d just add that if you find yourself in a time crunch and don’t see how you could do all 60 problems, look for similar problems. Often there are several of the same type problem in a row. Make sure you do one of each type, and if you had to look up stuff in the book, try another of the same type, and repeat. If you run out of problems on an area you are having difficulty with, come back on another day and work them again till it is easy. If you do one and it’s simple, do another for practice, and then move on. That way you will not be neglecting harder questions (which very well might show up on your test).


One thing I did was work the examples within the chapter as practice problems before tackling the ones in the back. Also if you are having to look back when you first do the problems that really isn’t that big of a deal. I found myself looking to the solutions/manual twice even three times before it really clicked.