School's been a long time

I finished my first two weeks of second semester General Chemistry. It was really challenging for me to get back in the groove (and I am not there yet). I took my first semester online at the local community college and now I am at a large state university. Here I am finding myself adapting to a lifestyle that I lived over ten years ago but this time with a 25 minute commute, a 15 minute walk from my car to the classroom, a husband, two kids, one dog and two cats, a business, and all the pressures of trying at get strait A’s and remember everything for the MCAT.
I can’t even explain all the feelings that arose during these two weeks. They ranged from feeling too mature (aka old) to be putting myself through all of this to totally unqualified. nl, anti-nl, M/s, M-1 s-1, first order reaction…WHAT??? This is crazy. How do I even key this into my old scientific calculator? What am I doing here? Am I crazy to think that I can pull this off?
Then I remember why. I remember that these classes are designed to “weed out” premedical students. I remember that chemistry and math are not my strong points and I remember that I am doing this because I am a clinician and eventually I will study what I love.
For all of you who have been through all this; how did you get through it? Does it get any better?

I have just done my first week of Cell Biology and feel exactly the same way! What the *&(( and I doing here? I don’t remember this, they are going too fast and I’m going to get a c (C=F)! The first class we were told that the failure rate for the course was 30%!
I have 4 kids, an hour commute, am parking in the parking garage because I am usually running late because of my babysitter, and have no time to myself ever. If I get up at 4AM I have at least one kid downstairs within 5 minutes and usually another one within 15-30 minutes. They outlast me at night. During the waking hourse the oldest has sports, friends, a life and needs my help with Algebra 2 or French or science, etc…they 3 youngest are constantly vying for my attention. I’m not moaning and groaning about life here–I LOVE my kids and absolutely want to be a part of their lives!! I just wonder, with all of this going on, how could I have possibly thought I could do both??? I sure hope I’m just feeling overwhelmed right now beause it is the first week of class.
BTW - Anyone have cell biology lecures on tape that I could listen to at night while I’m sleeping? Maybe some if it will seep in then.

It’s normal to feel this way… and I wish you all the best in pushing through it. One important thing to keep in mind: this isn’t just to “weed out” you or anyone else–and I think when you feel that way it can feel very discouraging. Chemistry and cell biology and the other courses you take as a premed really do help you in medical school. Some parts more than others, of course; nonetheless, chemistry in particular will be very helpful to you. For instance if you can totally nail acids and bases when you get to it you will be forever grateful. Also, this feeling of “what the &*%#?” doesn’t go away… you just get used to pushing through it.
Good luck!

I agree, you just have to push through it. For me, it felt weird at first sitting with a bunch of kids that were as old as my youngest child. But if you just ‘chill’ the little critters warm up nicely. However, I have been blessed by looking 30-something, and low to mid 30’s at that. Being fit also helps - even here at med school, it always cracks me up when the kids (I have to stop saying that) find out that I’m not only old enough to be their father, but that I also have a grandson! I think I’m starting to feel that I’m beginning to age rather quickly now!

What Joe said about acid/base is so true - if anything, at least nail that section. There were many times I got down on myself during some of the classes during my post back. Organic chemistry was one of them. In fact, no matter how much I studied, I never received more than a C+, but as long as the rest of your grades are fine, you will do okay, so don’t ever let the course work drag you down - just think of the prize and push through it.

Good luck.

I am going to chime in here. Second week of Physics II and Lab, Org II and Lab. I have the same feeling as well. Five kids, temporarily sick husband, the dog the 4 cats. I have spent many moments with the “what am I doing?” questions. They are really draining. I have tried to turn that into the thought that…“no one ever said this would be easy, so how can you expect it to be?” I must say this 100 times a day to myself. I can not exactly explain why, but it makes it easier to go with the flow, with this idea floating around my head.

It has helped to just expect this path to have many daily hindrances - big and little ones - and the idea is to push through because there is an Ah Ha! moment around the corner. Like when I think I have studied some concept enough, that it may even stick around for the MCAT because it is understood and not just memorized. It has helped so much to just live in the moment and not question myself anymore, but to spend that energy trying to “own” the material.

Wow. Maybe it’s the pomegranate juice. I can still say this with a pile of Physics problems ahead of me tonight, can’t start working until about 10:00pm, usually. Today the “flow” included taking two two-year-olds to the doctor for a check-up, two hours total and three shots each. Not so bad.

The rest of the family is currently on the couch watching movies.

Anyway, all of this to say that you are not alone. OPM is so powerful. It reminds me everyday that I am not.

Keep pushing.


We definitely all feel this way at times. Thankfully I don’t have the same issues as most of you (kids, husband, pets), but I definitely at times feel like I’m the oldest person around and wonder why I’m putting myself through this when I’m bogged down with stuff. Adjusting to a university setting is difficult for almost everyone, not just non-trads, but the key is definitely to take it one day at a time (or even one class or hour at a time).
You always end up getting thrown curves, but you learn to roll with the punches. Like today - I was borrowing a physics book from our science learning center because I still haven’t received the text I ordered and it’s two weeks into class. I had to return the book first thing this morning or I wasn’t allowed to take it home for the night. There went sleeping in this morning . Plus I still had a couple problems to finish when I got there this morning as well. But I figured I’d go in, hurry up and finish those last 2 problems, and head home to sleep for a few more hours before coming back for class. I ended up spending all day there doing and redoing problems. But there was also an entire group of us working the problems and asking the physics tutor questions, and we all were in the same boat. We laughed, we groaned, we crumbled up paper, we wore down our erasers, and we came out of there friends. Heck some of us are going to go out next Wednesday to listen to our physics prof play sax at a couple local clubs. That never would have happened if we hadn’t all been there this morning.
And you keep reminding yourself of why you do want to do this. When I’m feeling exceptionally overwhelmed by the “process” I usually need a break, so I stop studying and stick in my favorite med school movie (“Gross Anatomy”) to remind myself why I want to keep going.
Also I’ve found being a couple years into full-time school that there really are more people with stuff in common with you than you realize. While you may feel like the oldest in your class, you may not necessarily be the oldest, or there may be some other non-trads around that happen to look more like the 18-19 year olds than the 30 or 40-something. And most “youngsters” can actually relate to a lot of the stuff you’re feeling yourself. They may not be trying to juggle the same things you are, but they most likely are still juggling things, and quite probably feeling as overwhelmed as you do. It takes time to find the camaraderie with your classmates, but you will, and once you do it’ll be a lot easier to deal with feeling like your brain can’t possibly hold another ounce of information on a regular basis.
Hang in there!

5 kids!! Two of them are 2 year olds??? OMG! How do you find the time and energy? I have a 14, 6, 4, and 3 and they just wear me down. The 14 y/o had swimming divisionals last night and didn’t get home until almost 2 and we had to be at her girls sout leader’s house at 6AM this morning for a weekend camping trip. Right now I’d swear the 3 little ones were all ADHD (of course this is because I’m way tired and they are all like the energizer bunny during all waking hours!!) Somewhere along the line I think life messed up by giving all the energy to the little ones…we need it more:-)
It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one experiencing this! I have another non-trad in my cell bio class and she’s in the “freaking out” stage as well.
Thanks for all of the support!

Thank you all for sharing your experiences. Knowing that there are others in this situation is very comforting. After reading your posts I realize that the experience and character building is almost as important as the classwork itself.
I am really happy that I found this website and believe that the relationships that I can build will help me through the tough times and keep me on my path.
Thanks again!

I’ve had the same thoughts from time to time, I’m finishing my prereqs in England at St. Christpoher’s and boy the Physics is hard! I study everyday 5-10 hours (depending on the day) to catch up! I feel like I’ll never pass at times but I keep studying and pushing on. I do not have to work because I’m already a Med student here and have a loan but moving my family here and wanting to do this feels like a pressure at times. But I pull out my stethoscope and remember how I was not as happy as a Nurse and then study more till I get it! ( I hope!)

Hi All-
I’m getting my groove back. Yeah!! I have had a much better two weeks. Although I failed my first two chemistry quizes(and so did everyone else in the class) I have realized what I need to brush up on my algebra. Fortunatly, I got into a 5 credit precalculus online class that started today. It will be math & chemistry for the next few months. (ohhh goody, my favorite)
If I wasn’t able to humorously look at my situation I would probally cry. I bought my first TI-83 last week after going to a tutor because I could not figure out the answer to one of the questions. When she told me that a graphing calculator would find the y-intercept no problem, I realized that technology has come a long way since the early 1990’s. I am such a old fart and I am only 33. Then to top it off I don’t even know how to use the thing. I got a question wrong on the quiz because I did not know how to correctly key in powers. That little thing is incredible. Where have I been? I just keep on laughing.

I know what you mean. I picked up an algebra textbook to review before starting general chemistry a couple of years ago and I was a little puzzled that there were no trig tables in the back!

Yea I’m in physics (I hate physics) and had to brush up on trig and the last time I used a calc in school, I don’t know if there were calculators.
( I’m 40, I was told I was the oldest guy in the school)
It’s funny to take intro to Neuro and study advances that were not there when I was in Nursing school. ( Flo and I were students togather).