starting postbacc in the fall

Hi everyone! its been several months since i first posted here, at the time i was still wondering about whether or not to go through with my crazy plan of pursuing med school but now I am excited to say I got accepted into Harvard Extension’s Health Careers Program and will start this fall.

I do have some questions for those who have or are doing a post-bac: I have no choice but to work full-time while I study (40 hours per week on the night shift). How many classes do you think is reasonable to take? I am thinking of tackling 2 per fall/spring semester which should allow me to finish within 2 years. Do you think taking 2 classes (like physics 1 and chemistry 1 both with labs)along with a full time job is doable?

Harvard summer school does offer the same courses and taking classes in the summer would speed up the process but they are twice the price of the extension school and, the schedule looks more hectic: for example, you can take Chemistry 1ab monday-friday plus additional hours for labs. The good thing about taking chemistry in the summer though is you will be able to finish with 8 credits in one summer(equivalent to taking chemistry 1 and chemistry 2 over 2 semesters) . Is this advisable?

Looking forward to more valuable advice from you guys. Thanks

Oh, is there anyone here doing the Harvard Extension program as well?

Hey Mike!

Welcome back and congrats! Harvard! Your questions are not easily addressed by us here outside of, well, you. Are you mega organized? A self starter? How are your study skills, and when was the last time you took an academic class for college credit? If you answer these questions truthfully, you’ll know how you’ll fair. At any rate, good luck and keep us posted!

I have to agree with Artman. Are there enough hours in the day for a full time job and two classes? Sure. Are you the type of person that can handle that level of commitment? That’s entirely your call.

I’m currently working full time and taking bio II and calc at a local cc. This is definitely the limit of what I can handle with a full time job and a wife who occasionally enjoys spending time with me.

I will be kicking off a post-bacc program this summer (sorry, not Harvard) with the accelerated chem I and II curriculum. For me, knowing how much my job tends to intrude on other aspects of my life, I have decided to commit fully to academics for the duration of the post-bacc. So I’ll be resigning shortly before my program begins.

Part of my decision was recognizing my own limits. And part of it was just deciding that if I’m going to continue this journey, I’m going to make it as comfortable as possible.

Past, prolific poster ttraub is a Harvard Extension alum who unfortunately was dismissed from medical school.

I work full time, and I’ve taken 2 classes with labs each semester for 2 years… I have kids and a husband, and I can’t imagine taking any more hours than that. There just wouldn’t be any time.

As it is, I’m in class Monday through Thursday night from 5-8pm, and Thursday morning from 8-10am (I have special permission to miss work for that lab).

So I agree with the others-- yes, it’s absolutely doable, but you’re going to have to work extra hard to pack it all in AND be there for your family. Good luck, and congratulations!

Regarding Chem I and I (plus labs) over the summer, you don’t mention how many weeks that is over. However, I can tell you that I did it as part of my postbacc program in 9 weeks total (4 1/2 weeks apiece) with 3 hours of lecture/day, problem sessions every night during the week which generally went from 6 to 9 pm, and 2 or 3 labs/wk plus lab writeups. I couldn’t work even a few hours/wk. It was a minimum 80 hr/wk schedule to make it thru - lots of studying, no tv or reading, and not enough sleep. I got A’s but only because that is ALL I did.


Carrieliz, glad to know 2 courses with labs per semester is doable, sounds hard but i will certainly try. Kate, i think the harvard summer school program goes for 7 weeks, and after what you said, i think taking 2 chems over that short period might be pushing it a bit and lead to poor grades. I will take it a little slower especially since this is my first time back in school after a long while. I will probably just take calculus (ugh I hate math!) this summer to sort of ease me back into student mode! I wish I could quit work and focus 100% on school but currently am unable to.

I have been thinking i should finish the postbacc as fast as possible so I can take the MCAT before the requirements change in 2015 but I think I will still have the time. Thanks guys for the advice.


I am also considering taking Chem 1ab this summer at Harvard Extension School and working less than 20hrs per week. I have a flexible work schedule, but I am wondering if anyone was able to take the intensive summer course and work part-time.