Organic Chemistry: An Update

Here are some random thoughts on organic chemistry so far:

  • Wonderfully interesting subject, particularly when you have a good professor.  I’m a pretty good judge of professorial talent, and I have to say that I got lucky.  The other section has had some intense drama that wound up with the termination of their professor.  Glad I’m not in that section.
  • Our class doesn’t have weekly homework.  Instead, we’re given what he refers to as inquiries, which are essentially homework that forces us to dig in a bit deeper to answer some subtler questions.  The first one, five questions, is due today.  My solutions are 17 pages of handwritten text, drawings, equations, etc.  I work problems from the book and do the reading as we’re going through the course.
  • Some of the people in my classroom haven’t gotten the hint that they’re in college yet and chatter incessantly during class.  During a break on Monday, I caught up with them and explained that a dozen people sitting around them didn’t appreciate their giggling…their response wasn’t all that great.  One of them admitted that it was inconsiderate, but that it didn’t matter because they could talk if they wanted to.  Our conservation went on for a few minutes, but they seemed to settle down somewhat afterwards.
  • Pre-meds are neurotic!  I’ve never seen so many people try to one-up each other, clamor for points on a quiz, and generally just be annoying.  Whining about the homework is not going to endear you much to a professor if you’re trying to get a letter of recommendation.
  • Organic chemistry is not the beast that everyone tries to pretend that it is.  I’m sure it gets harder, but even if it does, it’s just not that bad.  People thinking organic chemistry is some impossible course need to realize that, if you can’t handle organic chemistry, you probably can’t handle the academic rigors of medical school.

Some mistakes I’ve seen people make so far and what you should do to avoid it:

  • Seriously.  Organic chemistry is not about memorization.  Every professor will tell you that.  Every pre-med student will tell you the opposite.  Who are you going to listen to?  If you honestly think the course is about memorization, you’re going to be miserable.
  • Do the reading and work problems on your own.
  • Don’t use the solutions manual as a crutch.
  • Pay attention during lecture.  I hear all sorts of students asking questions that could have been answered if they’d simply shut their mouths and open their ears during lecture.
  • Start the homework as soon as it’s assigned.

I’m loving this semester – I honestly can’t wait to get to class and to study the content in the evenings.  More to come, so stay tuned.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s not about memorization….. but you will be seriously F-ed if you don’t memorize that pH table. Yes, it is intuitive once you understand it, but it really makes a difference to know it cold. So Just Do It.

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