Spring Semester Courseload

Hi All,

I’m scheduled to take OChem 2 and Physics 1 (lectures/labs for both) in my post-bacc program. I’ve never taken physics ever and math is my weakness. I spent an hour at my mom’s this afternoon where she told me that physics was one of her most challenging classes in undergrad (she was a bio major but not pre-health). Both my post-bacc advisor and other post-bacc students think this course load is reasonable, especially since I work part time and I’m taking the same Ochem instructor that I had this past semester who is easy. The physics instructor I’m planning to take is the best of the physics 1 instructors this coming semester (as some physics instructors are really bad per other students), and she splits the class up into groups for lab.

I’ve been working with a tutor since I started the program last year who I will continue to work with, and I started working through Khan Academy’s physics library. I have a week from the first day of class to drop without penalty (no refund & a W on the transcript). Although I initially agreed with my advisor 4 classes is fine working part time and showing med schools I can handle a rigorous course load, I now have second thoughts after talking with my mom. I had a video appointment with a founder of a premed group who also has a non-traditional background and she said adcoms didn’t ask why she didn’t take a rigorous course load. Depending on how I feel working through KA and the first class, I could see myself dropping physics 1 and taking it in the fall with biochem (3 classes total since biochem doesn’t have a lab). I feel that being honest about my struggles with math is essential and that good grades should take priority over the number of courses a term. As I’ve been researching different med schools, many screen for GPA and MCAT scores before sending out the secondaries. GPA is very important to me since I’m not the strongest standardized test taker. With the various opinions I have received, I’m more convinced that a low GPA will keep me out of med school than will taking fewer courses a semester with strong grades.

Any thoughts appreciated! :slight_smile:

It obviously depends on you more than anyone else. I took Orgo1 + Phy1 + Bio1 during fall semester and then took Orgo 2 + Phy2 + Bio 2 during spring semester while also working a full time job and got A’s on all of them. If you are taking regular physics without calculus I think you should be fine. Also want to point out that my post-bacc GPA is 3.8 but my cumulative GPA is 2.9. I don’t want to give the impression that I am some sort of genius.

I found Biochem to be more difficult than Orgo1 and Orgo2, but I think it was mostly due to the prof teaching Biochem.

1 Like

Thanks @goomba27 for sharing your thoughts! I have an appointment with my premed coach to see what her thoughts are and am waiting for my tutor (engineering grad student) to get back to me as to whether or not he thinks I should go to the first class meeting and drop before the second. Since my post, I wrote a list of pros and cons of taking OC2 and physics 1 together and there are more cons than pros for me. The options I’m considering now are 1) dropping the lab but staying in lecture or 2) dropping physics altogether this semester and taking it at UCBx, a community college, or self paced through the University of New England in the summer.

My concern about taking physics at UCBx during the summer is not having a choice of instructor since I had a horrible instructor when I took gen chem 2 lecture in summer of 2020. The pace might be an issue as well. With regard to community colleges, I have yet to visit a school website that flat out refuses to accept community college classes. However, many med schools prefer most of the pre-reqs at a 4 yr colleges, but if I only take 1-2 sem of physics at a CC, that won’t be an issue as I’ve taken/will take the other pre-reqs at 4 yr colleges. The difficulty for me would be finding a CC that is at night or a day I don’t work since I work Wed, some Thurs, and Fri. For these reasons, I’m more inclined to go with UNE since I can complete it at my own pace.

With regard to your semester course load, was that 3 lectures and 3 labs? Were you working during that time?

At UCBx, the prereqs for biochem are a year of bio and ochem. I took bio in 2015 at UDC and will finish ochem in the spring. I’m not sure if taking physics and biochem at the same time is a problem.

A big part of my fear is the program director (different from my advisor) “course load shaming” me because she said in the fall I take fewer classes than other students. I highly doubt I’m taking a lighter course load since most of us are working adults. I’m trying to take what she said with a grain of salt because this comment is likely a scare tactic and my friends think she’s projecting her own insecurity on me. I understand that I’ll have to take 4-5 classes a semester in med school but I’m sure there are many people who took 1-3 classes a term in post-bacc and adjusted to the med school course load just fine.

Hey, sorry for the late response.

I would say if you only take physics at a CC, to me that would be a problem because it would be weird that you took everything at a university and then physics at CC. If I were to interview you I would definitely ask you what your least favorite or hardest subject is and then put one and one together. Is it a deal breaker, probably not, but why give them an extra reason?

I took all three classes with labs, which also goes to your other point about dropping the lab. My school doesn’t allow students not to take the labs. So you have to take both, if you drop the lab you have to drop the lecture. So you want to double check on that at your school.

If I were to redo it I would not take all three at the same time I would probably just do two classes.

I would say course load is important. In my case I will need to explain why some semesters I only took 2 classes. My reason is I have a full time job and bills to pay. They can do with that information whatever they want.

In the end there is no right or wrong way of doing things. Take everything with a grain of salt, do what you gotta do.

No problem!

Since this post, my premed advisor told me that it’s OK to take physics at a community college. She took A&P at a CC, and said adcoms didn’t ask/make a big deal about it. Were I to be asked about it by an adcom, I’d feel comfortable saying math is my weakness and I didn’t want to put extra pressure on myself. I’m more inclined to do a self paced course through UNE because it may be hard to find a CC course that matches my schedule. I’ve also heard that as a career changer, taking 1 or 2 CC classes is less risky than for an academic enhancer.

The reason the lectures and labs are separate at UC Berkeley Extension is that they rent space from other CC for the labs. Both CCs and UNE offer the lectures and labs together.

Premed advisor (non-trad 4th yr med student) said adcoms didn’t ask her about course load. She said it really depends on who is interviewing. You’re right that there’s no right/wrong way since everyone’s path is so different.