HI everyone im new to this site and am looking for a general overview from people with firsthand experience. Im currently back in school after graduating with a BS back in 07. I have most of my med pre reqs but still need 2 semesters of o chem a 2 of phys and 1 bio. I am working 40+ hrs/wk at a hospital and need honest advice as to wether or not my pre req classes and mcat prep can done while working full time (im trying to apply next yr, june 2013)therefore i have 5 classes and the mcat to complete in 1 year.Does anyone have any advice as to whether i should take the time and retake the sciences i took in my undergrad and extend my application year from next to the year after?? or should i just take what i need for acceptance and focus on my mcat preperation? additionally, are community college credits strongly looked down upon?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated:)

First of all, welcome to the OPM community, and to this journey! I hope you find help and support here, and are able to offer it to others as well.

As for your questions …

I personally wouldn’t recommend taking physics and orgo (and definitely not bio too!) at the same time while trying to work 40+ hours a week. It might be possible, but it also might be a recipe for disaster. Grades are so important, and you want to nail these courses.

From my personal experience, physics and orgo are the two most challenging, and time-intensive pre-requisites. They should not be treated lightly (although neither should they be feared). You also need to remember that both physics and orgo have lab components. The intensity of labs varies by school. My orgo labs weren’t horrible, although they still required time to complete. Physics lab reports, on the other hand, for me could take 6+ hours to write up. And I have a journalism background, so writing wasn’t the problem. There were just a lot of components, calculations, etc.

MCAT prep should also be treated as a regular course, with much time and thought being given to studying for the exam. So that’s another time investment.

Basically, I think you should wait a year, as you suggested. As we are all fond of saying here on OPM, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

As for the community college thing … that’s a big debate on here. I will let others chime in on that one.

Thanks for your response! I do see the reasoning behind treating it as a marathon and not a race. I guess the idea of waiting until 2014 and (fingers crossed) being accepted for summer 2015 is somewhat daunting. with that said rushing and not being accepted would be even more disheartening. In your experience if i were to avoid taking ochem and phy in the same semester would summer school be a reasonable alternative? that would allow me to put my focus on a single subject…my experince with summerschool science is somewhat strained…i just finished biochem and im left feeling like i havent come up for air in 8 weeks.

Hi there and welcome!

I will chime in on summer school and say that it’s a great option, but probably not something you can do while working full time but that depends on your other commitments so may be a possibility in your situation. Summer school schedules alone don’t cater to full time first shift work, for example. It just usually cannot be done unless you work 2nd shift or have some other flexibility at work. Even then you could be tearing your hair out trying to balance the schedule. It sounds like you took biochem in summer and I’m guessing did this while working f/t so that says something right there. How did it go?

I am just finishing up Physics I plus lab that is an 8 week summer course and I hear ya on feeling like I haven’t come up for air in the last several weeks. That being said, it has been something I’ve been able to manage and I’m doing well. That last part is key. Some other students don’t care if they just skate by (not premeds, of course) but we premeds must do A work and let’s face it, even great students must spend time on this stuff. I have found that this physics course was extremely time consuming but I’m glad to have taken it in summer. It has helped keep me on track to finish up all my prereqs by May 2013 and take the MCAT spring 2013.

To echo terra_incognita, some of the lab components of these classes can take a lot of time. I had to do three lab write ups for Physics this summer and the rest were thankfully computer based and done completely in class (class was 3 hours long by the way. Not always were the entire 3 hrs needed but you can’t know until each lab so this is time that must be scheduled in). The three I did have to write up took hours and I am strong on writing skills like terra, but factor in calculations, analysis, tables, etc and it sure is a lot of time to spend on a 1 credit lab course (at my school the lecture and lab are separate; lecture is 4 credits, lab is 1.)

If you are working full time, the most I would take in any semester of prereqs is one class to be honest. If you have other responsibilites such as family, volunteer work, etc., then you may want to review your situation and see if you can work less. At any rate, you may just want to try one trial semester to see how you feel. Sign up for Physics I with Lab or Orgo I while not changing your work schedule (which maybe isn’t even an option in your situation) and see how it goes. If all goes swimmingly then you have a better idea what you can and cannot do reasonably and more than reasonably well in. Dip your toes in the water, first. It would be damaging to take on too much and end up with less than stellar grades and/or W’s on the transcript.

Best of luck! It’s hard not to want to speed things up, but trust that taking things a step at a time is probably best in the long run.

I’ve created a Pre Med 101 guide over at Medical School HQ - Click for Pre Med 101 Guide

More echoing what is said above. I am applying this year, but completed my prereqs one at a time while working full time (day shift). Physics and Organic Chemistry both took considerable amounts of time to truly learn the material - I would not want to take them both at the same time, especially not working full time and with a family (not sure if the family part applies to you or not).

Without kids, it might be possible to take both together. It would still require a lot of “stretch” and figuring out how to effectively approach the subjects. A model set was indispensable for o-chem, btw.

thank you all for your responses. even though im less then thrilled with the idea of only being able to apply summer 14 im sure my chances of being accepted even if its only to start in fall 15 will be increased substantially.

Still no thoughts on CC credits? my state college “accepts” them but ive heard a lot of diff opinions

If you do well in your prereqs, do well in your MCAT then it is clear you learned the information and where you took the classes won’t matter. However if you don’t do well then there will be questions that will need to be answered.

Good = local CC

Better = local university

Best = 4.0 wherever you take them + >30 MCAT

It’s case by case but if you went to community college in New Jersey and are applying to somewhere in Oregon, they are going to look at your MCAT score for confirmation of your GPA. If where you apply has a familiarity with the community college, that can help or hurt. If they know the CC runs things just like the university = help. If they know the CC is a cakewalk = hurt. My university has a medical school and a strong relationship with the local community college for a lot of areas of study. However, the sciences at the CC are not as tough as at the university. 5 out of about 200 people in my organic-2 class got an A; no curves, no hints, essay tests etc. Orgo2 at the CC was curved heavy and the tests were essentially the homework problems.

Ultimately it comes down to “you gotta do what you gotta do.” There can be a difference in classes from the university to the CC but there can be a difference from university to university as well. Do whatever is going to get you to the next step in the most reasonable/affordable manner. Just make sure you understand everything conceptually and understand the added importance of the MCAT if you do everything at a CC.

The once surgeon general has a pretty cool story involving a GED and community college work:

Goodness! Is there anything Carmona hasn’t done? Harlem, New YoRican gone from the hood to being the Surgeon General…and just about everything in between. That’s awesome!

Additionaly, does anyone have any feedback as to how old princton review books are too old? Also Krackers? Does the material and how it is related to testing or format change drastically with the newer additions? I am about to purchase a used and mixed set of princton review ranging btw 2006-2008. Should i beware? the Kraker books are from 3 years ago.

I would rather not waste my money now by buying them older and used to only have to invest again in new eds.

Thank you all, I find all of your responses enjoyable and helpful!