which one is better a C or a W?

Hi! I really need some good advice regarding organic chem 2. We had our first exam and I got a 42/100 on it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull a B for a final grade. We still have 2 more exams to go including the final exam, each will be worth a 100 points for a total of 300. Should I withdraw and take it the next semester or risk it and keep going and hopefully get a B? I already have one C on my prereqs.

I would limit the risks and drop if the W has no impact on the GPA (this I don’t know). Take the safest approach. You want an application as strong as possible. One C doesn’t look great, so two would be even worse.

Good luck.

How does your 42/100 compare to the class average? Is there a curve? It’s far for uncommon for averages on the organic chem tests (or biochemistry tests) at OSU to be in the 30-50% range. I would talk to your professor first and find out how he/she feels about your chances of a B or better.

the class average was 66/100. but someone got a 93 so there probably be not much curve to it. I guess talking to the professor would be good before deciding. Thanks!

W’s can raise a red flag on your application.


If I have ever a choice between a W and a C, what should I pick?

Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means a medical school admissions professional. However, I have had the privilege of evaluating and hiring students right out of the college. We spent a lot of money and time training people, so it was important to get the right person. And of course a major step to picking the right students to interview was an incredibly thorough review of their college records. To me, C’s and W’s were both damaging, but I would rather see a W. I think having too many, which is probably more than one, of either is what becomes very damaging to your academic reputation. I could live with one C and one W, but once you had more than one of either, there had to be some serious extenuating circumstances. I don’t know if this will help you, but I just wanted to share how I and other hiring professionals evaluated such marks. Best of luck!

W’s are intended to be used to withdraw from a class for issues other than the intellectual ability to do well (that was a mouthful). Classic example is a moderately seriousness illness, death in the family, etc, something outside of class that would impact your ability to do well in class.

The red flag with a W is a good adcom will expect to see an explanation as to that reason, other than I just couldn’t hack it. Also, as a comment earlier pointed out, some schools may still count the credit total and it may impact your GPA.

Oddly, an entire semester of all classes as W is easier to explain than a single course (again, seriousness illness is classic example). Having a C or two is not going to kill you, especially if in semester I as you can prove yourself in semester II. You can also add an additional upper level course or two in Biochem or similar to show your workload.

I personally think a C is less of a flag and easier to adjust and compensate for than a W

  • redo-it-all Said:

If I have ever a choice between a W and a C, what should I pick?

What you should first do is follow

"Rule 1: Take a Breath" Have you spoken to your professor, your premed advisor, etc?

"Rule 2: Trust Your Gut" You have to make and live with the decision. Even though you get advice from the forums, professors, advisors, etc, it is ultimately your decision and don't overlook your instinct on this.

"Rule 3: It Depends" Everyone here is a non-traditional student which implies atypical. Academic backgrounds are different, situations varied, etc and there is no boilerplate answer.

what you are looking for is the right answer. What you need to make for yourself is the best answer, and move on from there without second guessing, looking back, fretting. Evaluate, make a decision, and then focus energy on the future courses and issues.

Gonnif for the input

I will keep this in mind. I don’t plan of being in that situation but who knows, life and accidents happen.

I totally get it having a bad quarter.

This quarter I took too many classes, while working full time and having a 3 year old and 2 year old twins and was volunteering. I ended up having to withdraw out of one class and I got a C in the other. I am hoping to explain one bad quarter. Will not take three classes again until my kids can do full time day care and I am not having to fly full time. Silly me. I still have 3-4 years and am hoping that this scenario never happens again. I would like to ask, “is this it for me?” But, I know that there is always an exception to every rule. Maybe I am the exception and maybe I am not. So, I think we all have to look at that.

Frankly, in general I’d rather see a couple of Cs (and ongoing improvement) than a bunch of Ws. Too many Ws indicate that you probably can’t handle the course load. Cs could indicate that you can haul yourself through the course work. But, as Rich says…“it depends…”



Thanks for all the advice! I decided to just continue and be optimistic enough to get a B. I bought the klein book for o-chem and I must say, I wish a had it before I started this course! It really simplified things. Now I’m reading it and then reading or required text. Hopefully I’ll do well in our next exam which is less than 2 weeks away!

It would not hurt to talk to the professor, explain the difficulties you have been having, and ask if there is another way you can demonstrate mastery of the material sufficient to get an A – say, by acing the tests from now on and showing your grasp of all the material. He might say no, but it can’t hurt. Maybe he can provide you a way to prove you’ve learned the material and deserve an A, or at least a B.

One more thought about grading, not directed at almond or any other individual but just a general observation:

My wife and I were both grad assistant TAs, she in French and I in physics. We both had cases (she only a couple, I numerous) of premed students coming in begging for a better grade than they had earned. This might work if you have a weak-minded TA or professor, but for the most part it just makes your grader that much happier to give you the low grade.

It is not the teacher’s fault that you’ve decided to go premed and need good grades for med school. Most teachers are sensitive to grade inflation and are loath to hand out unearned grades. On the other hand, if you’re an edge case, most teachers are are willing to give the benefit of the doubt. If you offer to do extra work, even if they don’t accept, it shows them you aren’t just trying to weasel an unearned grade.

Furthermore, most are reasonable and are amenable to a logical argument, within bounds. You probably cannot convince them to completely disregard their grading scheme just for you, but you may well be able to convince them to drop an early low test score and replace it with a higher, later test score that demonstrates mastery of the earlier material.

Bottom line: If the teacher feels like you’re asking him/her for a grade favor, s/he is unlikely to give it to you. If s/he feels like you’re trying to find a way to succeed and to prove yourself, s/he’s much more likely to help you out.