NY Times Article Written by 42-year-old Premed Student re: Organic Chem

There’s an article in the NY Times written by a 42-year-old premed student about her struggle with (and ultimate mastery of) organic chemistry. I thought many of you might find it inspiring so am posting it here. Enjoy!


Oh wow, I actually know her and had no idea that she was also considering a career change. Such a small world. Thank you so much for posting this!

Ironic. I’m waking up this morning, circa 5:00 A.M. to put in a good 6-7 hours of Orgo II study. I love organic chemistry, not so much because of the abstract quality of the subject matter (Saturday I was telling my friend that the amazing-yet-confounding thing about organic chemistry is learning not only how to visualize invisible molecules, but also their spatial arrangement…AND rearrangements!), but because among all my other coursework, it has proven to be the most formidable challenge.

However, I must confess, Organic Chemistry isn’t hard. What IS difficult about orgo, in my opinion, is how to develop (and quickly!) a practical and personal strategy for studying and subsequently understanding the subject material. There is no shortage of resources out there on the web which every OChem student would do well to explore. Of course, in an effort to build a coherent system, the student should really only glean from two, maybe three sources. I found that having too much water in the bucket is just as problematic as not having enough. I use a collection of outside resources (i.e., extra texts, problem-sets with solutions, review sheets) and effectively teach myself, if not the subject per se, at least what I need to know to score well on exams.

Hindsight being what it is, I would have developed my current method much quicker. I will probably walk away from OChem II with a B this semester, which of course is rather a bummer. Having earned an A in OChem I, I was looking forward to walking away from the dreaded Organic Chemistry section totally triumphant. I’m debating whether or not I want to give it another go, but more than likely will not if I do in fact earn a B.