Vent/Need advice

Hi everyone,

I’m in the second full semester of chipping away at my prereqs and I’ve hit a point where I’m starting to stress and panic so much that I’m beginning to question why the hell I’m doing this.

Last semester I was able to pull off a full courseload of 15 credits with a 4.0. I figured this semester wouldn’t be quite so intense since I’m only taking 13 credits. Boy was I wrong! The Physics II and Chem II labs are so much more work than the their predecessors. I am literally spending around 8 hours per week on chem lab alone and around 5 on the physics lab writeups. I don’t mind putting the time in, it’s just that I’m putting an enormous amount of pressure on myself to get an A on everything. Last week I got back my first physics lab and got an B. I’m freaking out because I’m terrified I won’t be able to maintain my GPA.

I need someone to tell me to stop being a neurotic premed.

Any tips on how to maintain my sanity? I’m trying to take enough time for myself (exercising, taking breaks in between marathon study sessions). Whenever I try and convince myself I’ll be ok with a B+ on my transcript, I’ll hear or read something that contradicts this idea. FUD is freakin weighing me down this semester.

If anyone can share some inspiring stories of how they pulled through a difficult semester, I’d greatly appreciate it!

I don’t have inspirational stories for you, but I can relate to your FUD. I’m feeling it this semester as well. I have been taking 9-11 units at CC for the past three semesters while working full time. So far so good. This sem I’m taking Gen Chem II and Spanish I (10 units.) In Gen Chem I, the instructor suggested homework problems, but the grade was entirely based on 5 exams plus the labs, which were not too much of a pain.

Gen Chem II has turned out to be a different beast. Not only are there homework assignments and weekly quizzes, the labs are a huge pain and take up a lot of time. Plus the instructor has a policy of not allowing students to leave early if they finish early. I leave home at 8.00 am every morning. MW I have Gen Chem from 5.30 pm to 10.00 pm (no leaving early) so I get home at 11.00 pm. TTh I have Spanish from 7.00 pm to 9.15 pm so I get home around 10.00 pm.

Fri-Sun are my only free days and those are taken up by homework and lab reports. Not even two weeks have passed and I feel like I’m being ground into dust. I’m wondering if I should just drop Spanish to free up Tue and Thu evenings, but I do want to learn the language. In fact, I’m enjoying that class. Dropping Chem II is not an option because it’ll put me behind on the core pre-reqs. I’ve covered a lot of the material 20 years ago during my engineering undergrad and I know that I can absorb the material. However, I’m finding the time commitment a heavy burden this time.

It is CC, but this is no fluff course - the homework problems are straight out of the Nivaldo Tro textbook, and the final is a comprehensive Chem I + Chem II ACS exam. The worst part is that there is no +/- grading, so I can’t even hope for an A-. It’s either an A or a B. Yeah, I’m feeling the FUD and for the first time understanding what it means to be a pre-med. I have 4 days remaining to drop courses so I’ve gotta figure this out. The FUD is there, but I’ve gotta keep my own OPM tagline in mind (Goodbye FUD.) I think I’ll be able to make it through and you will too.

  • Dullhead Said:
Plus the instructor has a policy of not allowing students to leave early if they finish early.

Whoa, that sucks! Did the instructor explain his reasoning for not letting students in the lab leave early? I mean, you have a pretty darn good reason for leaving before 10 pm. Maybe he'll make an exception and let you leave early. Besides, if he's just being tyrannical, you can take your case to the ombudsman or the dean of students, and they'll cover you.

I don’t know the reasoning - perhaps it’s departmental policy (5 units = 5 mandatory contact hours, presumably.) I don’t know if she’s being tyrannical about this, but she is definitely tyrannical about other items. She’s taken it upon herself to impart values (my guess) so at the end of lab, she’ll inspect the workspace and fume hood. She won’t sign the lab notebook until these are both sparkling clean (regardless of whether the mess was created by the previous lab section or another class.)

She’s been known to send teams back 4-5 times. Rust flakes under the fume hood sash, tiny specs of dried chemicals on the backsplash, fingerprint smudges on the fume hood glass, and anything else that catches her eye - it’s back to cleaning. Grab that sponge and keep at it. Eventually she’ll let folks go home. To me, it seems more about making a point than actual cleanliness. I would consider this fair if she inspected and rated work spaces before I started and then again when I’m done. This way, I’d only be cleaning up my mess, not the one from the previous section which is not subject to these rules.

But whatever. It’s silly, really. However, I don’t want to aggravate her, so I don’t think I’ll go to the Dean or Ombudsman, assuming we have those here at the CC. I need her on my side for that A. It’s all part of being a pre-med so I’ll deal. Only 14 weeks remaining - 28 classes (of which I can miss 2) so 26…

Travelgtr - did not mean to hijack your thread - so let’s get back to your OP…

Travelgtr -

I feel your pain! Seriously, I could not get better than a B in physics lab (or B+). Spent hours on my physics lab writeups, went to sessions with a physics tutor who concentrated on how to do the writeup. But, despite a 94 average on physics labs, our instructor graded on a a curve. It was a section full of premeds and to get an A you had to be two standard deviations above the mean (which was 91). 96 or above was an A, 93-95 was a B, 89-92 was a C. I managed a B+ second semester (a bit bigger spread there).

You have to resign yourself to accepting what is out of your control. Do your very best, and that’s all you can do. I think med schools are aware that labs cannot always be perfect. Do very well in your classroom and move on. You can get in with B’s. The stuff you read is based on students with straight A’s who didn’t get into med school. Generally that reflects weakness elsewhere in their application. Many folks get in with less than straight A’s. You can only do what you can do.


As a former Physics instructor let me tell you that those grading policies are not only harsh but extremely malicious. Where in the world would you not grant a well deserved A to a student in the 90% and up range?

In respect to the Chem Lab instructor and her policies on lab cleanliness, you have to think that it might be an internal issue. I clearly remember many reclamations I got from our lab technician who complained on how messed the students left the labs and utensils, and all of it because we were liberals and let them leave early instead of making them clean after their mess.

Anyhow, it is clear that in academics there is a lot of stupidity involved, specially regarding policies, grading and grades. To the point that sometimes all involved forget the main goal: which is to learn and to have fun…

Just my rambling disconnected thoughts…kindly bear with me, it’s Monday morning

I got two B’s and an A- minus and have had 5 acceptances so 4.0 isn’t always necessary. Granted the B’s were in my first months back and in Cell Bio and Micro, and double granted my acceptances are from DO, but I don’t have a problem with it.

It’s been my experience that there is always one or two professors who do not believe in A’s, and will do whatever they can to keep all but the most grade grubbery slimy brown nosers from getting that much earned 4.0.

Depending on a number of other factors, they can either be your best or worst professors, an ‘outlier’ if you will.

From what I understand, Organic Chem and Physics (and maybe Calc) are Boot camp classes, designed to weed out the weak and unsure.

Keep your nose in the books and you will prevail!

Hoo Ah!