I’m currently doing a post-bacc program on my own of taking all the science courses necessary to get into medical school. I am taking Biology I and Physics I this semester at a local university and plan on taking Chemistry I & II in the summer sessions and then Organic, Physics II, Cell Biology, etc in the fall 2008, spring 2009 semesters. Now I found out today that the Chemistry professor teaching this summer is really unpleasant. So I was thinking about taking Chemistry at another local university. My question is…does it look bad if I switch schools back and forth to take science courses like this? I plan on returning to my current university in fall after the summer sessions.
I don’t know how AdComs would look at it, but it looks somewhat sketchy to me. What does “really unpleasant” mean to you?
I would think that if a class was not offered that semester you needed it, Adcoms wouldn’t mind if you went to a different school. Seems pretty legitimate to me.
But, I would find it hard to explain why I didn’t take a course because I heard the professor was unpleasant. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be in the Chemistry class I am in now. I DID hear some not-so-nice stuff, but I actually really like him! I found the individuals who were saying such were the students who are/didn’t do very well in that particular professor’s class.
If it is the shear amount of work the professor makes you do that seems unpleasant, I’d look at it a different way…at least by doing the work right and diligently, I know my stuff and will feel better prepared to tackle the next course in line and/or MCAT.
Just my experience.
I don’t necessarily know that an adcom will question it. A great many people take summer courses at a different institution for a variety of reasons. I personally took the year of organic chemistry in a special 8 week summer program that was at a different university from the one I took the rest of the pre-reqs at. The vast majority of students in my class were from universities other than the one where we were taking it, most of them were pre-something majors, and most of them had heard about it from their pre-professional advisors.
I would investigate the “unpleasant” aspect a little bit more. While Adam and anbvian both make excellent points, I made the mistake of taking a course where numerous people advised me the professor was “difficult” and that test AVERAGES were in the 30/40 percentiles. It ended up being my only grade lower than an A- in my postbac (in fact, it was a C). So, if it’s just that the professor assigns a lot of work, that’s one thing. If the professor is notorious for making it virtually impossible to get an A, that’s another.
While I have an experience similar to Emergency!'s (my only W in a long 4.0 streak was my first attempt at Orgo II with a crazy prof; I have a 100% in my second attempt so far, knock on wood), might I suggest that you stick with the same school and find something else that is offered over the summer that you’ll need? Maybe Physics II would be a good idea, so that it’s still fresh in your mind after this semester’s Physics I. Failing that, consider Anatomy, Physiology, Genetics, Biomedical Ethics or something else that’ll still be applicable. If all else fails, take the summer off and bolster your application with extracurricular activities. Disregard the populist opinion of a professor at your own peril.
Again, it all comes down to the reason the prof has that rep. If it really is impossible to earn an A in that class, and the administration is unbothered by this, perhaps it might be best to avoid.
As counterexample (because you know how contrarian I like to be ), I’ll offer my Biochem course. Normally, one professor teaches both sections, and he has a reptuation for being a hardass. Tough grader, difficult tests, has students in tears, etc. This pas semester, a new prof came in and taught one section, and a full 2/3 of the students opted for this. Those of us who stuck with the “hardass” ended up having a much better time, and I suspect we may have learned the material better, as well.
As Amy and Timbo say, it comes down to the reasoning. If it’s legitimately an unfair course, you should probably avoid it. If people just don’t like the guy, or blame him for their poor grades, I think it would be a poor idea to avoid it. Yeah, we all want to get good grades - but we’re at least partly in here for the challenge of it, right?
Thanks for the great responses! I actually am trying to avoid the professor because he has a reputation of being terrible at explaining the material while giving tons of assignments and tests. But also, I am currently attending a private university for my post-bacc courses and am considering switching over to a public state university with a lower tuition, at least for the summer. I think I can use the tuition part as a good reason for my switching over. Again, thanks for the input guys. I love this forum!