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Courses Second year, First Semester Courses

  1. Sep 11, 2008 #1
    So I just started my first semester in second year and most of my courses seem really interesting and I love what I am studying. My major is a specialist in Biotechnology at UofT(mississauga), and I am currently taking 5 courses:

    Intro Cell and Molec Bio
    Intro Physiology (with lab)
    Fundamentals of Analytical Chem (with lab)
    Organic Chem I
    and Introduction to Pharmacology

    I have talked to some people this year already who have been given me the bad stories. One of them said they dropped analytical chem because together with organic they could not do it. Another said that I was not doing a smart move for taking these combination of courses.

    My Last year General Chem TA, who was also TA for I believe the Analytical course last year said that I would do great if I took it. I sort of believed him knowing that he knew me from all my work probably better than myself.

    My question is if this is possible to accomplish? I know that I probably have to work something like 12+ hours everyday to accomplish great grades (B+ and A's) and I do not mind this one bit. I know my social life might not like being denied, but never had any form of a big social type in me except for hanging out with friends at school.

    So what are your thoughts on doing such courses together? Is it possible and do you have any good tips for doing well in them? Specifically Analytical Chem?

    BTW: here is the syllabus for analytical chem:
    Course Topics
    1. Measurements and Statistics
    2. Chemical Equilibrium
    3. Acid-Base Titrations
    4. Complexometric Titrations
    5. Fundamentals of Electrochemistry
    6. Electrodes and Potentiometry
    7. Redox Titrations
    8. Fundamentals of Spectroscopy
    9. Gravimetric Analysis

    This course also has labs, which I was thinking of preparing for by reading additional methods from other peoples research and getting some more background info on the methods themselves that will be done in labs.

    Thanks for your time and advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2008 #2
    I think each one of those courses has a lab component. So thats 5 labs and subjects that are closely related. Not only will you get bored with seeing similar content, but you will also struggle to do the tedius lab reports on time. And yes analytical is HELL.

    I strongly suggest you drop one of these, ie. analytical, in place of a non-lab course like math, physics, or arts - just for variety and a break from labs. And if I recall, you don't have good work habits yet. Develop these first, instead of killing yourself for a term. 12hrs a day works in theory, not in practice.
  4. Sep 11, 2008 #3


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    That is a HUGE workload you're taking on. I'd recommend dropping one of those courses. Some options, depending on how your program is structured...drop either cell & molecular bio or pharmacology. Both of those are likely to utilize your o-chem knowledge, which will be weak until you've completed o-chem. If that's not an option, then the analytical chemistry could probably be most easily delayed, but is not likely the toughest of those courses (I thought analytical chemistry was a pretty easy course compared to the bio courses you have in your list). The three that'll keep you hopping the most are o-chem, cell & molecular bio, and physiology. I agree with Howers' advice to take something that's not a science course just to give yourself a mental rest. Do you have some elective requirements to fill? Some arts classes, for example?
  5. Sep 12, 2008 #4
    Well I still need to fulfill my full credit in Humanities. So I could drop Pharmacology and substitute another humanities credit in there. Howers only two of those courses have labs, the physiology and Analytical. I know b/c I am taking the courses right now. Cell and Molec Bio labs are in second semester.

    I did not really want to leave off pharmacology until next year but maybe you guys are right since I do really want to move my GPA from 60's to 80's. Hopefully A.

    What are some good tips for Analytical though? Other than dropping it. Also I cannot drop cell and molec as it is a pre-req for most upper year courses in my program.

    Do you guys have any recommendations for a humanities credit? I was thinking a history course, but there is not time slot where I won't have a conflict.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2008
  6. Sep 12, 2008 #5
    I just went through all of the courses I will probably take in my third and fourth years and most of the other chem courses as well. It seems that the only Chem course that will require fundamentals analytical chem is a third year course in Instrumental Analytical Chem. But I would still rather drop Pharmacology as I might have more future courses with labs. Not sure what is your advice on this?
    Also the Professor for Analytical Chemistry is new for this year, he actually just finished his Ph.D. this year so they gave him a position in teaching at the school. I have heard that new Professors are usually easier in their first year and then begin getting tougher as the years move on further. Is this true in any sense? :) Just thought that maybe taking it this year might be good because of that but obviously there is no sound proof I think that this is true.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2008
  7. Sep 12, 2008 #6
    Its unusual for an organic course not to have a lab. Maybe your school just crams it all into analytical. In which case yes, you do need that lab experience for upper year chemistry. Besides that, analyitical is your only "mathy" course, so its good for variety. I agree pharmacology is the best one to drop. I believe doing pharmacology with an organic and analytical background will be much better too. Though I've never actually taken a pharmacology course so its just an assumption of mine.

    Good arts courses are things like "scientific terminology" or "english roots from latin". They teach you what all the crazy words in your science courses mean, especially useful for biology. You might try economics, or even english/philosophy to improve your writing skills (which will help in standardized tests, ie. GRE or MCAT verbal sections). As for the first year prof thing, I think they'd be harder if anything - but just an opinion.

    If there are no labs this might be doable. It just looks like A LOT of memorization for any given term.
  8. Sep 12, 2008 #7
    Hey Howers thanks for the answers. Actually for Organic Chemistry this is like a two part course. First semester we have Organic Chem I and then in the second semester of this year I will be taking Organic chem II which incorporates more of the mathematical background I guess of Orgo with labs. I think this is the little confusion we had going here.

    I actually do not mind memorization and I seem to have a God-given gift in being able to memorize stuff pretty fast and very well too (that is sticks in me for years). But yeah I will probably drop Pharmacology and take it in another year when I can understand it better.
  9. Sep 12, 2008 #8


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    I'm actually surprised that organic chem isn't a pre-req for the cell and molecular bio course.

    I wouldn't hang your hat on a new professor being easier. Sometimes they are harder because they're trying to "prove" themselves. Sometimes they're just really bad at teaching because they don't have a lot of experience yet. Sometimes they're still working out the bugs in their lesson plans.

    Anyway, definitely stick with the courses that are pre-reqs for your advanced courses. You don't want to get behind by not taking those.

    This is sounding a bit convoluted with the pre-reqs and such. I think you really should talk to your academic advisor and get his or her opinion about what would be best to drop. And, yes, if you're struggling with low grades already, you certainly don't want to overload your schedule. It would be better to pace yourself more slowly and spend an extra year in school with good grades than to overload and just barely pass your classes to graduate on time.
  10. Sep 13, 2008 #9
    I think organic chem is a pre-req are for third and fourth year molecular Bio courses at my school. My school had a weird system in which first year Biology courses were evolution and only evolution. There was hardly any mention of molecular biology or biochemistry for that matter. So in a sense, I am actually taking my first intro cell and molec bio courses in this year. It's a bit weird for me, because i have some friends who in another university actually have finished intro molecular bio in their first year.
  11. Sep 13, 2008 #10


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    Oh, okay. That makes more sense. So, essentially, it's a general biology level of cell and molecular. Though, this is even more reason why you'd be better off asking an academic advisor at your school than asking us. We can give you general impressions, but without really knowing the curriculum at your school, our advice could be flawed. Usually Cell and Molecular Bio is an upper level course, with the basics covered under other courses, like General Biology.

    Another thing is whether your intro to pharmacology course will dovetail well with the intro to physiology course, or if you should take physiology before pharmacology. At least in a medical school sequence, pharmacology is taught after physiology. That's because in order to understand the pharmacology, you need to already know what normal physiology is, then the pharmacology course teaches you what is going on with abnormal physiology and how the drugs can correct that. But, again, as intro courses, they may be much more simplified, perhaps the order of topics is coordinated that as you cover the cardiovascular system in physiology, you'd also cover the drugs affecting the cardiovascular system in pharmacology, or the pharmacology course may be more simple and assuming you have no physiology background yet.
  12. Sep 13, 2008 #11
    I see, well the pharmaclogy course title is actually: Introduction to Pharmacology: Pharmacokinetic Principles. And although they do not state that there are any pre-reqs for it they do recommend four courses before taking it. Which are the intro cell and molec bio, analytical chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. I am assuming though what you have said is very true because our Professor did tell us he would have to get a different professor for some topics in the course (which he finds difficult himself to explain), ex. Biotransformation I and II - Now my guess would be that it is better to have an understanding of Organic, Molecular biology, and Physical Chemistry at least for these topics.
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