Question of the Week: Summer Chemistry

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

Question: Hi HPA – I didn’t start Chemistry as a first-year, so now I feel like I want to catch up and either take Gen Chem this summer and Orgo in the fall, or Gen Chem in the coming school year and Orgo in the following summer. Is one better than the other for medical school?
Answer: This will be easier to discuss in person -- please come in and visit to talk it through! -- but here are a few things to consider:
How premed are you? If you’re still debating whether to pursue premed, it’s a lot of time, money, and effort to take Gen Chem this summer when you might never need it. Plus, it can be difficult to do well in prereqs unless you’re pretty committed to the premed track. You may be better off spending this summer on activities like hospital volunteering and shadowing that will help you determine whether premed is for you, then if it is, you could look at Orgo (or Physics) after sophomore summer.
How rigorous are the science courses you can access? Organic Chemistry at Princeton is very rigorous and many summer Gen Chem students find they don’t have an adequate foundation for Orgo after their summer Gen Chem. If you choose to take Gen Chem this summer, take the most rigorous course you can find and do some self-study of Organic Chem this summer in anticipation of the academic year. When you return, start using your McGraw resources, office hours, etc., as soon as the semester begins so that you can stay on top of the work. Taking Gen Chem at Princeton then Orgo over the summer, the same would apply in terms of trying to position yourself well for Biochemistry.
Do you really need to take summer science? We can work with you to look at potential graduation timelines that work around summer courses, taking all of your academic and other interests into account. Medical schools want to know that you can manage rigorous science courses in the context of the academic year and the more science that you move into the summer, the more that this can be called into question. Plus, summer is the time students tend to focus on gaining research, work, and clinical experience, which can be challenging (but not impossible!) on top of course work. Stop by to talk with us about your overall plans and we can provide some advice.

QOTW in 2017: Full Time Shadowing This Summer
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