How to choose classes for next semester as a pre-med
As a pre-med knowing which classes to take the next semester can be confusing. There are many factors to consider when trying to create that perfect schedule. Will I be able to handle this course load and still make good grades? Will these courses look good to medical schools? Am I doing the courses in the right order? Timing of courses for MCAT? Well we will cover that to make sure you have the best semester you can!
As I mentioned there are alot of things to consider when scheduling for classes. I will go over the steps involved in making a schedule that accomplishes what you need as a pre med. But before we go over the steps, lets talk about what our priorities are when it comes to making an awesome schedule for next semester.
1. Making sure that you can still maintain a good GPA
2. Maintaining steady progress through pre-med requirements
3. Preparing you for MCAT
4. Doing courses in the right order (Important for getting your degree on time!)
5. Class times
Making sure you can still maintain a good GPA: This should be the most obvious priority in the list, however many pre-meds make the mistake here of either scheduling too many hard classes in one semester or not enough. Its important to find a balance and know your own limits. Trying to take Organic Chemistry II, Physics II, Biology II, and Calculus all in the same semester is a great way to NOT make the grades you want. That is just putting yourself in a situation to fail, and we want all of the odds on our side when it comes to getting a good GPA. At the same time if you only take one hard class, lets say Organic Chemistry. Then you will not be making enough progress to graduate on time or take the MCAT on time. The key is finding a balance and that depends on you. In general, I say that taking a minimum of two of your hard science classes/pre-med requirements per semester is good. But depending on you three can be a good number. Don’t forget that for every science class you take, you usually have a lab that goes with it. Don’t sacrifice your GPA to graduate faster. Know your limits and choose your classes according to that.
Maintaining steady progress through pre-med requirements: This goes along with what I was saying in the last point. While you do want to make sure you are able to maintain a good GPA and get the grades you want, you have to make sure that you are still making steady progress through your pre med requirements. This is essential to getting accepted into medical school immediately after college. If you want to start medical school right after graduating then you must get your pre-med requirements done as soon as possible. Remember, that alot of medical schools don’t even require you to have a degree to get accepted. Just the pre-med required classes and your MCAT. So this means that you can apply to medical school once you have completed those. In order to do that, you must prioritize completing your pre-med requirements (Gen Chem, Biology, Physics, Organic Chem, English, sometimes Calculus) before your general education classes and other classes.
Preparing you for MCAT: One of the most important things your college classes can do for you is prepare you for the MCAT. The MCAT is based off of what you learn in your pre-med required classes for the most part. Although there are now sections on it in Biochemistry and Psychology/Sociology. This is another reason why its important to focus on getting your pre-med requirements out of the way as soon as possible. You will do much better on the MCAT if you actually took the courses that cover what the MCAT is covering. You want to try and take any class that can help you for the MCAT. So this means you should be focusing on taking your pre-med required classes and if you have room for another then maybe take Psychology. Remember, you are doing yourself a big favor by taking these classes before taking the MCAT. You will be thankful when you have to only review for the MCAT instead of learn everything at once.
Doing courses in the right order: This is super important if you are trying to get an undergraduate degree and also still really important for being able to get into medical school on time. As a Biochemistry major, I have some classes that have multiple requirements to be able to register for them. And often these classes are requirements for other classes. For example, for me to take physical chemistry I have to have first done Physics I and II, as well as calculus. This is why its important to know what your upper level classes require for registration. In this case, I have to make sure I get calculus and Physics done as soon as possible. Otherwise I won’t be able to register for physical chem. If I can’t register for physical chem I won’t be able to take inorganic chemistry. If you wait around to take important classes that are required for registration then you might not be able to take the courses you want during the semester you want!
Class times: This is the last of things to consider when it comes to creating the perfect schedule. While it is nice to have all your classes on the same day or at the right time, that is not the biggest priority. First make sure you take the RIGHT classes and then worry about getting the right times for it. If that means you have to come to school on monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday instead of just MWF then so be it. Its a bigger priority to graduate on time, be ready for the MCAT, get good grades, and make progress through your pre-med requirements. With that being said, I always try to schedule classes on the same day. It can save you gas money and time that you could spend studying or working instead. This might not always be possible if you don’t have class registration priority. Always try to get the classes consecutively, the more free time you have the better! That means more time for working, shadowing, studying, relaxing, and volunteering!
Making it practical:
Here I will go over an example of how I would schedule for classes and why I’m doing what I am.
Example: I am a Sophmore who will take the MCAT next year.
1.Pick the classes you want to take:
Organic chemistry II and lab
Biology II and lab
Easy general ed class
– I chose to take just Organic Chemistry II and Biology II in the same semester since they are kind of related. These classes are also pretty hard and I don’t want to risk getting a bad grade, so I won’t take a third science class. This is why I chose only two science classes. This still keeps me on steady progress through my pre-med requirements and helps prepare me for the MCAT next year.
– English II is not too difficult of a class and also is a pre-med requirement. So I will be getting another requirement out of the way.
– Easy general education class to make sure I have enough hours. This is important if you are on scholarships. This class is easy and shouldn’t take away from studying for the harder classes like Organic Chemistry or Biology.
2. Get the best times you can for them.
– Try to get them onto the same day if possible.
– Avoid early morning classes if possible.
I would go for taking these classes on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. This gives me enough time to not be overwhelmed by them but also enough for extracurricular activities.
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