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Competing with Pre-Med peers

  1. Jul 7, 2011 #1

    Just for the record, I am entering into my freshman year of undergrad at a University that is not Ivy League, but is very well known for its biology department and medical school. I am a double major in Evolutionary Biology and Chinese. Unlike many of my future peers, I have no intention of going to medical school. I am torn between the fields of paleontology and oenology (wine-making). No matter what I decide to do for a career, I need to do well in college so I can get into grad school, which brings me to my question.

    Although I know that I can handle whatever is thrown at me, I am very concerned about the grading curves that I will have to deal with in my Biology, Chemistry, and Calculus classes. I have heard horror stories from friends who are older than me about many students doing nothing but studying 24/7 and setting the curves to a point that it is nearly impossible to get an A or B. Can anyone share their experiences so that I can at least have an idea about what to expect.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2011 #2
    Sour grapes, can't relate.

    Also, if you're going into wine-making, you'll need to learn to relax, lay back and enjoy :biggrin:
  4. Jul 8, 2011 #3
    My university fits that description quite well (not Ivy League, but the med school's in the top 5). Something like 1/3 of each class is premed, and everyone gripes and moans about the intro level science classes. After a while though, you start to notice a few patterns.

    There will be some people who study 24/7. There will also be a couple of other people who will study maybe an hour a week, and who will still set the curve. You can study yourself to death trying to beat them, but in the end, it doesn't matter what the highest score is, but rather, what the A cutoff is--and you can usually count on your premed peers to pull that down. Freshman year at least, there are still enough wannabes who have yet to be weeded out that if you are fairly intelligent and reasonably hardworking, you probably won't have to worry about getting lower than a B. In my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, non-premed bio majors tend to be more capable than premeds, simply because you'll be taking classes that interest you rather than classes med schools say you should take. That may give you the edge over a lot of your peers.

    Also, when you hear horror stories about general chemistry, intro biology, and calculus, bear in mind from whom those stories are coming. These are premed freshmen; most of them could care less about calculus or atomic energy states, and it often shows. Premeds struggling in a calculus course is no more indicative of the course's difficulty than psychology majors failing out of art history would be. I'm not promising you'll have an easy time of it, but be careful of taking advice about difficulty from peers of different majors and mindsets, as their experiences may not generalize to you.
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