During undergrad, I always had in mind what classes I’d be taking the next semester, and I always followed that. This method worked for me, so even now as a post-bacc student I’m doing the same thing. There have been two semesters in my whole college career that I’ve had to repeat a class, and of course that issue puts you behind, and is really frustrating. But I always felt it was important to have a plan and stick to it, no matter what modifications have to be made. There are reasons why classes have pre-requisites, and it is important you take them in sequence. For instance, last spring semester I took Biology I, then took Biology II in the summer because I wanted the information that I learned previously to still be fresh in my mind. I knew at the time that I still had Genetics, Organic Chemistry I&II, Calculus, and Physics I&II left over so I chose to take Genetics first. The reason for this was because in Bio II you get an intro to what genetics is all about so in my opinion, it is a good move to take it right after. Getting a foundation from the previous course is always a good thing, so I recommend that be the first thing you think about when planning out each semester.
Next, think of what kind of semester you’re about to enter. Is it fall, spring, or summer? For me, fall and spring semesters are slightly the same, except when it comes to transferring schools. I transferred schools this past fall and I tried to take what I thought would be a “lighter” course load, but as it turned out, it still wasn’t light enough (other factors played into it). Summer semesters are condensed, whether they’re 12 weeks, or 6 weeks, so think about it: do you want to take Organic Chemistry and Physics in the same 6 week semester? Being real with yourself when it comes to choosing classes is important; while you want to get your required courses done as soon as possible, you also want to be strategic so that you’re not taking all hard classes in one semester and freaking out after the first week! It may work for some, but I don’t think it does for the majority of us. So keep in mind – what kind of semester is it? What outside stressors do I anticipate (work, transferring schools, etc.)?
One other thing to think about is, what standardized tests are around the corner? For pre-med students, when are you taking the MCAT? I was told to make sure I had a background in Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physics AT LEAST, if I wanted to score well enough. If you want to take it in August, make sure you plan accordingly. What classes do you have left? Lastly, talk it out with an advisor! Seek an advisor who is preferably in a biological science advising department with experience advising pre-med students.
How do you plan for the semesters to come?
For more about Melissa check out her blog right now: www.charliemel.blogspot.com!
Melissa Charlemagne is 25 years old living in Miami, FL! She attended the University of Missouri and obtained a bachelors in Health Science before deciding she wanted to become a doctor. Now at 25 years old, she is currently still working towards that goal as a non-traditional pre-med student. She also loves to read and write. In five years, she sees herself in medical school studying hard, and figuring out which specialty to pursue.