Q: If I get a C in CHM 202, should I retake it this summer?
A: A grade of C or better indicates a satisfactory understanding of the material. We'd generally recommend spending some time thinking about what you could have done differently to improve your performance, brushing up on concepts that were confusing, then moving on to more advanced courses with strategies and resources in place that will help you perform better.
In some isolated instances, after consulting with a student, we do suggest repeating a course even with a grade of C. This is usually because the student does not feel prepared to perform well on courses that build on the content knowledge in that course. So if you decide to move forward into organic chemistry next year, rather than spending time and money on retaking general chemistry, you might take yourself through some General Chemistry Khan Academy videos and other review resources on your own time, then start familiarizing yourself with Organic Chemistry so that you’ll have some familiarity in the fall. If you do decide to retake the course, don’t forget that any college course taken (even outside of Princeton) must be reported to medical schools and will be factored into your med school GPA, so try to aim for a four-year school with a solid level of rigor, and make sure that you do well.
Big picture, a lot of our applicants have a C on their transcript, especially in the early years at Princeton. It can be a steep climb from high school to here in study strategies, content foundation, time management, and so many other areas. In this year’s accepted medical school applicants, we have alums with undergraduate science GPAs ranging from 2.53 to 4.0. Medical school admissions committees look for applicants’ capacity for improvement, resilience in the face of difficulties, and ability to apply lessons learned from obstacles as they move forward. Don’t let one C deter you from your path!