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Courses Unrealistic Course Load?

  1. Jun 22, 2009 #1
    I am going to start my sophomore year of college this fall. I will be 17 years old (just for reference purposes), and the state pays for me to go to college early given I stay within 18 credits per quarter, but I'm wondering if I'm going to be overloaded? My dad is a veteran electrical engineer; he laughed and said "yeah, good look with that" when I told him what classes I will be taking in the fall. I'm guessing he's probably right. But what do you guys think? ><

    Fall Quarter 2009 Schedule:

    1. Pre medical biology 1
    2. General physics for science and engineering majors 1
    3. Calculus II
    4. Voice class, ballet, swimming and orchestra (yes, I am a girl).

    I play the violin in the orchestra....I also have a job as a reporter/ news writer for the University newspaper. And I'm pretty athletic and am a pretty experienced ballet dancer, so giving that up wouldn't be an option..all of the "silly" classes are only twice a week if that helps.

    Please know that I'm not trying to brag or anything, I'm just trying to get my priorities straight, and want to have a good GPA. Currently it's a 3.7 and I want to get it up. Last year I had to get a bunch of grad and pre calc requirements out of the way (unfortunately this program is through a very very liberal artsy university), which forced me to waste my time with a bunch of classes I will never need to use...I plan to major in nuclear engineering once I transfer after next year, and then go to medical school...or I might go to straight into medical school in Germany (which is the most financially friendly option). But I may major in neuroscience? I don't know. I really want to be an engineer, but I also want to be a doctor...what should I do? I am currently taking calculus I, and I'm not having any problems....yet.....(which is easy to say given that we have not gotten too far into the course at this point). I've never really had problems with math though (but that certainly doesn't mean that calculus is going to be easy). (:

    My dad said that if I want to accomplish this, then I will have be a robot with no life. But that's normal for engineering majors, right? lol.

    If any of you were me, what would you do? Any help is very greatly appreciated!!! I need academic guidance!! :P
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 22, 2009 #2
    I would suggest you read more advanced math, biology, and science books (just sift through some, reading portions). See out of the two subjects which you seem to have a greater desire to learn and read about. Perhaps this might suggest a future right for you. Asking others to make this for you decision is very risky and dangerous.
  4. Jun 23, 2009 #3
    I think the first 3 things wouldn't be extremely hard to do at the same time. The rest I suppose can take a lot of time but would not be hard to do (if you actually enjoy doing them and are good at them). The thing is that you are thinking of going to med school.In my opinion you should think about appearing more focused as a student.You should therefore make free time for courses and extracurricular activities that the med school admission actually care.
  5. Jun 23, 2009 #4


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    That sounds like a fairly typical course load to me. It is likely to keep you busy, but I wouldn't let other people (including your dad) psyche you out about it. Developing good time management and effective study habits will help you get through a heavy course load.
  6. Jun 23, 2009 #5
    You should keep in mind that the "silly classes" are a nice tool to raise your GPA so don’t make the mistake of underestimating them. I constantly see people who don’t take those classes seriously a wind up with a B when they could have easily gotten an A. This is what will probably happen if you plan to neglect those classes until midterm/exam time.

    Now as for your schedule, it’s hard and you will need to devote a significant amount of your time to those classes, about 38-42 hours a week. Now if you were just doing those classes I wouldn't say it’s nothing a little bit of time management can’t handle. However, there is no way you’re going to be able to balance your workload, your reporting job and number 4 on your list all at the same time while maintaining a 3.7 GPA let alone increasing it. Therefore, you might want to readjust your priorities in second year. Also in Calculus I you can coast through it via your knowledge of it in high school but Calculus II requires much more effort so just keep that in mind when you’re deciding how to structure your schedule.
  7. Jun 23, 2009 #6
    I hope you have thought this through very carefully. Where do you want to live afterwards? Do you know what you would have to do to get a medical license in the US after getting a medical degree in Germany? Do you know that taking classes at a college right now makes your chances a *lot* worse to be accepted into a medical school in Germany? Medical school applications are handled by a national organization (ZVS). 20% of the available seats go to applicants with the highest GPA, 20% go to applicants who have had the most time pass by between their high school graduation and their medical school application (6 years and up), and 60% are chosen by individual universities. However, you are INELIGIBLE for the 60% selection round if you have previously attended college somewhere. Just FYI.
  8. Jun 24, 2009 #7
    I don't think this is unrealistic, you only have 3 "serious courses", however, your number 4 seems like a bit too much. Not because you won't have the time for it, but because I think you get a little... dispersed (that's the word, right? well, I mean unfocused).

    I would say (this is just my opinion) that you should focus yourself a bit more, take those serious courses seriously, not just to get a good grade, but to really know them, maybe attend some extra course as a free listener or something (or even take it for real), or read books about stuff that might interest you, as ronaldor suggested. Maybe start thinking what do you want to study - engineering and medicine are not quite the same! In other words, prepare yourself for your future profession, instead of taking a bunch of courses to increase your GPA.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  9. Jun 24, 2009 #8
    Oh thank you very much for that info!! If you don't mind me asking, where did you get it from? Just so that I can check it out further?

    Oh thanks Cosmogirl--that's great advice. I really don't want to quit playing for the orchestra, but I do realize that I will have to make some sacrifices. Thanks.
  10. Jun 25, 2009 #9
    Your classes aren't unreasonable at all. You just need to figure out in the first week or two of class how to prioritize your studying time. The trick is to make studying as productive as you can. This means only study if you're going to get something out of it--otherwise you'd be better off relaxing instead of wasting your time trying to concentrate and just staring at pages instead. Also use the first week or two of classes to gauge how to prioritize your study time.

    Your extracurriculars could be hard to manage, though. I agree that you probably need to focus your efforts a bit. It's common to take a variety of classes at the beginning (at most colleges you have to due to all of their curriculum requirements unless you managed to get a lot done in high school). But your extracurriculars seem like they could be awfully hard to manage simultaneously along with those fairly nontrivial classes.

    Either way, good luck!
  11. Jul 2, 2009 #10
    LOL I skimmed that and read the thing about ballet, assuming you were a guy, and thought "too each his own...lol".

    Ok, well turns out I'm also going to be a 17 year old sophomore this fall, and here is my class schedule:

    1) French I
    2) Elementary Differential Equations
    3) Advanced Calculus I (this is after multivariable, I think its my school's equivalent of real analysis)
    4) Intermediate Tennis
    5) Optics and Modern Physics (standard physics major second year course)
    6) Cybernetworks and the Global Village

    I'm also the VP of Duke Human Rights Coalition, member and active volunteer for Circle K, dedicated Cameron Crazie, have a research job, and plan on holding another job.
    Of course I'm barely pulling a 3.6, so that kinda sucks, but I slacked a LOT last year. And the other math majors here are effin nuts...

    So yeah, I don't really know what unrealistic is anymore. I'm pretty sure anything that's allowable is doable.

    And I play the violin too =) but just for pleasure, the orchestra here does a lot of late night practices and I say to that "screw it".

    As far as doing engineering and being premed- ever consider being a BME major? BioMedical engineering? There are a lot of those kids at my school, its a tough major especially if you do premed too, but its perfect for what you described.
  12. Jul 4, 2009 #11
    I went to high school in Germany and that was part of the standard college info everyone got. You can verify it on the ZVS website: www.zvs.de (The website is in German, but I assume you do speak German since you want to go to college in Germany.)
  13. Jul 4, 2009 #12


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    I don't get why point 4 is included in your schedule. Extracurricular activities are exactly that.. outside of your normal university schedule. Your actual course load is only made up of three courses, which seems very manageable.

    Looking forward, there will most probably come a time when you have to drop some of your extracurricular activities -- you can't always expect to balance the number of extracurricular activities one would take in high school with a university workload.
  14. Jul 4, 2009 #13
    I hate to rain on your parade but I've seen a lot of kids plan the same thing ("I'm going to go to school in Europe, pyaaaa :D!") and fail. If you're not an EU citizen, you have a very low chance of getting in to a German med school. They tend to favor EU nationals and since the current laws in the EU mandate that they treat applications from all EU countries equally, you'd be competing with people from ALL of Europe, not just Germany. And no, digging out some German/Irish/Polish great grandparent will not get you the sort of citizenship you need to be considered an EU national. So it's possible but if you don't get started now, your chances are slimming.
  15. Jul 8, 2009 #14
    I say go for it :wink:

    Life becomes uninteresting if you don't challenge yourself and you seem like you can handle it :smile:

    Plus if you see it does gets too much, you can always try to cut down on some activities...

    I have a friend that did about the same sort and amount of activities that you're doing and he had a healthy social life as well and he got his bachelors engineering degree at a good university magna cum laude, so you're able to do it and I know more people like that, so he's not an exception :smile:
  16. Jul 8, 2009 #15
    To be honest that seems like a really light course load in terms of engineering and math. I've never seen an engineering degree that didn't require 4-5 engineering courses a term. Plus, doesn't one usually take intro to phys for engineers in the first and second term of their first year and take calculus II in their second term of first year?
  17. Sep 1, 2009 #16
    Well I don't believe that you're courseload is bad at all, the hardest thing for me would be maintaining interest in both biology and physics (I tend to change scientific interests like most people change music preferences...for a few months I'll love physics then I hear about a neuroscience theory and want to learn everything there is to know about it...then it'll change to medicine then to aerospace engineering...it's rather annoying). I would imagine you'd do fine since you're already in your sophmore year.

    I've read other posts on this page and pretty much none of them know what they're talking about when they hear your extracurricular with med school. I've talked to several admissions officers at Med Schools (in the US) and they all would agree with me when I say that as long as you keep your extracurriculars you'll be perfectly fine. Med schools DO NOT want someone who is a total square/nerd. If you like ballet and orchestra and do them in your free time, then you have more of an edge than your competition would with a 4.0 GPA. The Dean of Admissions at Stanford once said that he could fill every opening in the med school with PhD's and undergrads with 4.0's, they're a dime a dozen. But students who have an alright GPA but are passionate about horseback riding or started a band in college are the ones they would rather matriculate because they are real people, not science drones. The people who don't see going to an ivy league school as their crowning accomplishment but instead that they won regionals in a dance competition are the kind of people that medical schools want, they want people who don't get everything perfect the first time and think it's the end of the world when they don't. But don't get me wrong, you won't get into Harvard with just a 3.5 GPA, 32 MCAT, and won the Ironman competition, you need to NAIL the MCAT, for Harvard that is, 32 is just fine for anything under top 30 schools. The MCAT is like the most important thing you'll ever do that will get you into medical school. Every admissions officer I've talked to has told me that a good MCAT score can go a long way, like have a 3.5 GPA but a 42 MCAT will get you into top schools, that is accepted, not matriculated...that's only part one, part two and three of the application process are solely on you being a real person, not a science dweeb. So in short, don't be a total dweeb, continue the extracurricular activities, work at a hospital. Oh and the only thing you WILL NOT get into a medical school without is shadowing a physician, this will show that you really don't know what a doctor does, just what you might see them do during what limited time you get at a hospital. You NEED to shadow a doctor to learn if you want to be one, and get an L.O.R. from them, that always helps.

    Best of luck
  18. Sep 1, 2009 #17
    It doesn't look like a terrible schedule, however all of those courses may end up taking A LOT of time. As long as you are able to manage your time well, I think it is very doable.
    I like to study a lot during the weekdays and do very minimal school work on the weekends.

    How long do you think it will take to complete your undergrad?

    Personally, I would major in something you think it interesting and would enjoy doing if you do not go to medical school. A lot of people loose interest once they have been in school for a few years, and others simply do not get in for whatever reason.
  19. Sep 1, 2009 #18


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    I'm a pre-med Bioengineering major myself, with a minor in Violin performance.

    I hate to break it to you, but none of these classes should be extraordinarily difficult.

    Pre-med biology is just an introductory Biology course. You won't be going in depth with anything. The hardest concepts in that class are understanding how the cell works, and they probably won't go much more in depth with that than is covered in the average high school biology course. (actually... In high school I had to draw out the "simple" cell, with organelles, label them, color them, and describe their function on one test. I also had to memorize four pages filled with greek and latin roots and read two 300+ page books amongst other things... It wasn't really "average" and in a way Biology for premed was easier...)

    Calc 2 I thought was easier than calc 1. Our teacher told us fun stories about Sir. Lancelot and his infinitely long lance with infinite surface area & length but finite volume... (Gabriele's horn...)

    Physics varies on your institution, the physics department, the teacher, and how interested you are in the course, but out of these classes it'll probably be the most rigorous, as it is heavily math based and has a lab.

    Have you taken a college level science class with a lab before? (e.g. general chemistry) If not, this courseload may come as a shock to you. Keep that in mind.

    As for electives:
    Voice Class: Is this one on one training? If so, do you have to practice? At my school, people taking voice class have to attend a 1 hour lesson, a 1 hour performance class, and practice 5 to 9 hours a week. This means that each week they are spending at least 7 hours on one class that "only meets twice a week".

    Last spring I spent 11 hours a week on Organ, which "only meets twice a week". In addition to that I was taking Violin (six hours a week), Orchestra, and a string quartet. (plus my regular courseload... calc III, gen chem, etc.) I think when I calculated it I spent about 40 hours in the music building a week. (I worked there and took 6 credits of class there as well)

    And then performances... on my birthday, of all days, I worked for 5 hours and had 2 performances... it was a Sunday. I left my dorm room at 8 am and didn't rest until 10pm. Calc test Tuesday!

    Speaking of jobs, how many hours a week do you think you'll be working with the reporting job? Include the time you have to spend attending events to gather the information.

    Orchestra: please take a moment to fill out this simple confidential questionnaire.

    1. Are you skilled enough to play the pieces decently without practicing? Yes/No
    2. Will you get scholarships for your participation in orchestra? Yes/No
    3. Are you required to be in a group ensemble for voice class? Yes/No
    4. Do you expect to be in the front row of your section? (usually gets additional scholarships) Yes/No
    5. Is there a super-special-awesome piece they're going to do that you really want to play? (e.g. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto) Yes/No

    If you answered "No" to three or more of these questions, strongly consider dropping.

    Ballet and swimming... Is swimming a general study requirement? If so, hurray! Easy A! If not, it's still an easy A but kind of a dead weight on your academic career.

    Best of luck and wisdom in your decisions!
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