Nervous about starting class

I’m taking my first pre-req in September and I’m really nervous about it. I’m worried I’m going to be completely lost and/or feel out of place. Is this normal?
Also, I’m only taking one class b/c its been a while since I’ve been in school and I’ll be working full-time (for the first year anyway). I was thinking about taking chemistry the first year. Does this make sense or should I start with Bio? Does it matter??

When I went back for post-bacc classes, it had been twenty years since I’d been in a college classroom… and twenty-four since I’d taken chemistry. So yeah, I wondered how I would do. To my surprise and delight, not only did I do fine - but I actually enjoyed it, which certainly had not been the case when I was 18.
So go into this with the idea that you are going to learn something and it is going to be rewarding. Don’t make it more meaningful than that - yes, it is the first step on what will be a big journey, but for now it’s just a class and your goals are: enjoy it, learn a lot, do well. And I chose that sequence deliberately, because I do believe that your chances of doing well are significantly better if you focus on enjoying it and learning the material rather than focusing on the grade.
What to take first: general chemistry, undoubtedly. Now, this is going to require that you are facile with algebra-level math, so if you’re one of those folks who is easily discouraged by math issues, you may want to do a math class as your first step and THEN get into chemistry.
Why chemistry first? You can take lots of bio courses in various sequences and they don’t generally build on each other. But you usually must complete both semesters of general chemistry before you can take organic chemistry, and so doing just the chemistry prerequisites is generally a minimum four-semester proposition. So you want to get going on chemistry at the start of your post-bacc adventure.
Good luck! Going back to school was a GREAT experience for me, and I hope it will be for you, too.


I’m taking my first pre-req in September and I’m really nervous about it. I’m worried I’m going to be completely lost and/or feel out of place. Is this normal?
Also, I’m only taking one class b/c its been a while since I’ve been in school and I’ll be working full-time (for the first year anyway). I was thinking about taking chemistry the first year. Does this make sense or should I start with Bio? Does it matter??

Hi there,
It makes perfect sense to start with one class. The only drawback with starting with General Chemistry is that you need to be sure that your math is tight. You need to be very solid in algebra with a timy amount of Trig. If your math is rusty, better to start with General Biology (totally concept) and do Chemistry after you have tightened up your math. Your math prescription can be as simple as purchasing a small book called Mathematics for General Chemistry and doing some problems in your spare time. You need not re-take College Math unless you need the credits.
Good luck and don’t be nervous about the classwork. Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone else in the class is just as nervous. Focus on getting off to a good start, pacing yourself and making study an every-day thing. It will be good practice for medical school.

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous about going back to school. I know I did. I was terrified (especially since the last time I had been a science major I had failed chemistry!). The first semester is the hardest. So even if you’re completely overwhelmed for the first two months, don’t give up, it will get better. I think it’s really smart of you to only take one class. I took three with labs my first semester back with working and ended up dropping one because I was so overwhelmed. As for biology vs chemistry, that depends. Do you like math and feel really comfortable with it? If so, take chemistry. If you feel a little shaky on your math or prefer to learn a lot of information (as opposed to math problems), take Biology.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. My first semester back, I felt like my brains must have leaked out sometime since the last time I was in school. But little by little it came back, I figured out what I was doing, how I needed to study. And I ended up with A’s and B’s. Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help, get a tutor and even start a study group. And of course, come up and read posts here for inspiration. There are a lot of amazing people on this forum. Good luck! You’re going to do great!

I’m right there with you! I’m taking my 1st prereq now (Algebra). I’m set for a full load in the fall, though. I was nervous, too, when I started Algebra. The last time I took algebra (or any math, for that matter) was in 10th grade (32 years ago!) I’m surprised (shocked, even) at how much I retained from HS and how well I’m picking up on it. I think my maturity level and the fact that I’m REALLY, REALLY motivated has made the difference. As for what class you take next, I guess that just depends on you. I’m scheduled to take Chem I, Bio I, and Trig this fall. Don’t let the years away from your last schooling bother you, though. Heck! If I can do it, I’m sure you can, too! Best wishes!

It’s totally normal to be worried if you’ve been away from the classroom for a while, but try not to let it consume you. For one thing, you’ve got a few months to go before September and you don’t want to burn yourself out before you even start. Instead, try to focus on what you can do to make this the best possible experience. If you’ve had weaknesses in the past, try to focus on what you can do to improve and have everything in place before class starts (i.e. setting up binders or organizing a workspace), but otherwise use the summer to rest and relax since you’ll have less time to do that once class starts.
I’m not sure whether it matters which subject you take first. I’d go with whatever works into your schedule best or which one you’re more interested in. I see you’re in Boston. What school will you be attending? I know that at Harvard Extension School, the bio class recommends that you have a year of chemistry, but it’s not a requirement. I’m not sure if other schools follow that belief or not.


I was thinking about taking chemistry the first year. Does this make sense or should I start with Bio? Does it matter??

By the way, I don’t know about your school, but OSU Stillwater requires algebra as a prereq to chem I. You need to check with your school to find out their requirements for Chem I. And, if you’re a bit rusty on you algebra skills, you might want to take a placement test at your school to see which algebra class you might need. This is, of course, assuming you haven’t already met that requirement.

Nfdal- we are on the same boat…I’m also starting in the Fall…it hasn’t been so long since I left college, but bilogy (not counting introductory biology I - last Fall), chemistry and math I took for the last time in High School - 7 years ago…
You’ll be all right…
and I guess we can create a support group…I’ll be taking Chemistry I, too

Well we are all in the same boat ( hope it’s not the TITANTIC ) I’ll be starting after not being in college since 1989 . But we will be fine, hard work, stress, fun, learning new things, and a few tatoos later we’ll be Doctors.

I too am riding in that boat. Fall after not being in school for nearly 7 years of life & a job that requires NO thought - thus I am trying to study for something else (ACE exam) as a wake-up call to the grey matter.
tatoos? nah, they obscure the muscle too much

HI Nfdal, It’s totally normal to be nervous. I just started my prereqs. in May and I was nervous. I still am nervous and I think a little bit of nerves/fears is good to get/keep you motivated. It’s not a time to relax. Anyhow, I finished Chem. 1 already and, I’m not going to lie - it was one of the hardest things I’ve done - that’s why I’ve been absent this past month, but I’m so happy to be doing what feels right for me. I’m sure you find that too!

Hi Nfdal!
I can totally relate to what you are going through. I have been out of college for about 6 years and been riding the ups and downs of life(i.e. divorce) waiting to get back to school. Now I am back in school for the first time, although I am taking distance ed classes for just the first semester so I can get used to it, and I am freaked out. I’m enjoying it but it is hard to get back into studying and work full time(I’m an RN). I turning 30 next month and I feel overwhelmed that I still need a bachelor’s before I can apply to med school but I am excited about getting a bachelor’s too, I am a 2 year RN. So hang in there and somehow we will all get through this! Tattoos? I have 6, still places for more though!

Congrats on your decision to return to school! And yes, nervous is fine .
Two yrs ago I decided to return after, ahem, 20 years. This was after 20 years of nightmares of “Where is the final exam?” “I forgot I had that class for the entire semester” and “They took back my BA degree because I was missing a 1/4 PE credit.”
Anyone else ever have these kind of dreams??
Oh, and during the pursuit of my BA, the only bio I took was environmental bio, enough to graduate…no chem. (Lots of research psych, tho.)
So, I started w/ Gen. Chem and Medical Terminology and aced both. Loved both classes. Couldn’t believe I actually enjoyed chemistry!! (med term was only fun because of the teacher, plus I’ve worked in the med industry for the past 20 yrs.)
The nightmares stopped!! Haven’t had a “school nightmare” since I’ve been back.
I finished all of the required bio and chem (and a few required “fluff courses”, as I call them) this past spring semester.
Can’t wait for school to begin in Aug!!

Oh, my god! I had the exact same kind of dreams CONSISTENTLY as an undergrad.
Mine went something like: I showed up the first day of class, but then just never went again. I forgot to drop the class, and realized the day of the final that I am still registered for it, but know absolutely NOTHING. I did well without this dream through most of my post bac, but a couple times when I wasn’t ‘fully ready’ - the dreams came back!!
Well, needless to say I think my unconcious fear of doing poorly is making these dreams appear. Luckily I am more mature and prepared in general for classes, so I hope not to be seeing them very often in the future!

Glad to know I’m not the only one w/ these dreams .
My only prob was that I had them AFTER BA and PRE medical. Only after going back were they cured.
What was worse for me than the “Oh, I forgot the class” dream was the “degree revoked” dream. The college would hunt me down and I would have to leave my family/career etc. (wishful thinking - LOL) to return to school to complete my degree…
Another added benefit of going back to school: weight loss! And all this time I thought I was a stress eater