Print Story A question for people who took chemistry in college
By yankeehack (Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 06:49:33 PM EST) (all tags)
People with science degrees that depended on chemistry, LO needs your advice...

LO has been doing just fine in school - calc, bio, etc., with the exception of General Chemistry. Like bombing the tests and midterm bad, but getting 10/10s on quizzes and getting an A+ in the lab. She's gone to office hours (the professor was not helpful), for extra help and review sessions, tutoring, using Khan Academy, etc. to no avail.

Apparently there's a group of kids who are doing well in the class and then there is everyone else. It sounds like the professor is assuming a certain body of knowledge in the general lecture. LO only took Honors Chemistry in sophomore year of high school, and not a second year of advanced or AP Chem. 

LO has to take 2 semesters of General Chem and one specialized (not organic) chem class for her hoped for science major.

If you were her, would you re-take chem at a different school (she's thinking about taking it during the summer) or change your major?

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A question for people who took chemistry in college | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Physics major here... by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 07:30:43 PM EST
They required the 2-semester general chem sequence, which I finally got around to taking as a senior. After all the physics, it was pretty easy. I managed to hook up with the one kid in the class who looked like he knew stuff as a lab partner, and we had a great time.

So when does the chem requirement need to be done? Maybe an extra year's maturity would let her repeat it a bit later? Also different prof makes for a very different intro course experience, sometimes.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

It is worth a shot by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #2 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 07:47:26 PM EST
A shitty teacher, or just one with a teaching style that doesn't match the student, can cause lots of problems.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Dunno by me0w (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 07:55:08 PM EST
In my first year I took biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and stats.

I came out with a degree in Philosophy and applied ethics.

In other words, don't ask me.

College level chem by ks1178 (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 07:58:04 PM EST
I know at my university and a few others that my brother and friends went to, chem was used as a weeder class to try to filter people out. This was primarily for engineering degrees. So some Chem background is nice but that's it, and the chemistry teachers tended to be very heavy on memorize everything and in general were not particularly good teachers and harsh graders.

If her major is heavily focused on chemistry, and she's having issues then definitely retake it, either at her university or another one.

On the other hand if it's science or math based but not specifically chemistry related, I wouldn't sweat the grade too much. Make sure she passes and then move on.

Yeah by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 08:21:59 PM EST
I took the fancy chem classes in high school, and really struggled in freshman chemistry and physics. I got C's all around with a few B's. They were weeder classes for sure, much more so than calculus. I was almost weeded out. Luckily I was really good in the weeder class in my major (EE, the logic / gates class, whatever it was called).

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

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Yeah by yankeehack (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 08:52:49 PM EST
this is for Environmental Science, and aside from the general chem I & II requirements, there's an environmental chemistry class to take.

Aside from that, the major is mostly geology and hydrology.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

[ Parent ]
Chem major here by marvin (4.00 / 2) #7 Mon Oct 24, 2016 at 10:19:01 PM EST
Canuckistani though, and my first year of uni was way back around the same time as yours, so apply necessary grain(s) of salt.

If she's doing fine in calc and bio, she should be more than capable of doing well in chem. It really sounds like a combination of (i) insufficient background in the subject, and (ii) possibly just not meshing with the prof's teaching style. While some profs are better than others, different students also respond differently.

As for re-taking at a different school, sure, whatever it takes to get a solid understanding of the subject. Chem and biology are the core of environmental science - there isn't much else to it. I did a decade of environmental consulting, and my chem background came in handy.

If you don't have a solid understanding of the first year material in both chem and bio, you're going to have a bad time when you start getting into toxicology, understanding atmospheric environmental chemisty, biochem, and aqueous environmental chemistry. Especially aqueous - as an organic chem major I skipped that one. The people I knew who took it complained a lot, and the textbook (which I later bought as a reference) just looked painful.

If LO can't work her way to the point (with a re-take if necessary) where she can nail first year chem, then environmental science is going to suck. What would she switch majors to? Can you even get a science degree down in USia without first year chem?

Unrelated to your questions, but with only sophomore / grade 10 chem, you wouldn't even get admitted into first year university science up here. A minimum of two grade 12 sciences, and both chem 11 and physics 11 are mandatory, and it's been that way for a long time.

Thank you by yankeehack (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Oct 25, 2016 at 08:45:31 AM EST
this is what we were looking for.

I honestly think it's just the teaching style of the professor. Because how in the heck do you do fine on the quizzes and labs?

As for your background question, LO took Biology in Freshman year, and after Chem in sophomore year, her teacher recommended she take AP Physics and in senior year she took both AP BIO and AP Environmental Science. She scored a top score on the Environmental Science test, which apparently is difficult to do.

Again, it's just painfully obvious missing that second year of chem is hurting her now.

Her alternate plan is to switch from Enviro Science into Enviro Studies (policy) and Public Health.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

[ Parent ]
Are different first year courses available? by marvin (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Oct 25, 2016 at 10:05:14 AM EST
Most colleges and universities up here offered two first year them courses - one for people who had grade 12 and an intro course for those who did not. Both allowed entry into second year.

Sounds like poor advice in high school - if you are going for uni. science, max them all out. If you skip one, don't make it physics or chemistry.

[ Parent ]
Autocorrect grrr by marvin (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Oct 25, 2016 at 10:07:07 AM EST
First year chem courses.

[ Parent ]
Weed out classes by barooo (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Oct 25, 2016 at 08:38:16 AM EST
 I wouldn't be shocked if the final grade curved up towards acceptable if she's putting in the work.  But those general chem / intro physics type classes are brutal.  I took them at U of I and there were always a handful of people getting 100% on exams, but then the next best grade would be like a 67%.  At least at U of I, it would end up so ridiculously curved that like a 45% was the cutoff for an A-.  The more important question, if they publish such things, is where does she stand in terms of class rank.

She could definitely try taking chem I at a community college or something, lots of people at U of I took Diff EQ, etc. at Parkland.  Also, I was an engineering major at a state school, and a C in Chemistry or Physics wasn't the end of the world.  I have no idea what it's like for non-eng majors at private schools, or for people planning to immediately (or nearly so) pursue grad school, so my advice is probably not as helpful.

man, i need a beefy taco now.
Microbiology major here by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Oct 25, 2016 at 10:13:50 AM EST
Weed-out freshman classes and bad teaching styles can do a number on you.

Many of us were really confused by some things in an Organic Chemistry class, so we went to the o-chem generic tudoring sessions (different professor every time).  All the other professors were baffled by our questions, said the things we were studying were made up, WTF?  Our prof was new to the school, this was his first semester teaching.  After only 50 people out of 250 passed his class (most of us got Cs, nobody got an A), the university got involved and he didn't teach any more.  Didn't help our grades any, but at least nobody else had to suffer.

A similar thing happened in my Physical Chemistry class, only 25 people ended up taking the final exam because the prof was so awful (class started with 150 people).

I took a C and ran in quite a few lower-level classes.  I didn't want to be in school forever (dropping out/repeating Organic Chem would have added at least a year if not more to my college career) and I understood the core of the material (as proved by my making all A's in the difficult 400-level classes).

Generic tudoring sessions by Scrymarch (4.00 / 6) #14 Fri Oct 28, 2016 at 09:03:11 AM EST
Oh sure, they sound like fun, and it's lots of feasts and jousts and back slapping founding your own church at the start, but then one day you turn up and thwock your study mate's been decapitated.

Iambic Web Certified

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As a chem major for 3 years by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Oct 25, 2016 at 11:14:13 AM EST
I took AP in HS, got a 5, so tested out of first year inorganic. But organic 1 was in the spring semester (fall: inorganic 1 and organic 2, spring: organic 1, inorganic 2), so for first-year chem people who tested out, they created a honors chem to keep you in the subject that first fall. I was the annoying guy who got 110% while the class average was 60%.  (in a class of all folks who got a 4 or 5 on the AP test, so in theory they all knew their stuff.)

Not sure what I can say: is there a TA doing problem sets ? (ie something outside of just the prof's office hours) Or the lab instructor willing to do the tutoring/extra instruction ? (or the darker end, there are some things/subjects people just won't get, but evaluating what that means is a lot harder)

(When I moved to CS and dropped pre-med/chem, I worked in the CS labs and gave short lectures at the whiteboard for the students in there working on the labs/computers which helped a number of struggling students)

Update by yankeehack (4.00 / 1) #15 Sat Oct 29, 2016 at 12:10:43 PM EST
LO got her midterm back: a 64 wherein the class average was a 66. It's only 20% of the grade, and grades are only curved at the end of the semester. Apparently the chem prof was highly agitated that the scores were so low.

It sounds like if she works at it, she'll be able to scrounge up a passing grade...
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

A question for people who took chemistry in college | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)