STEM Classes: Difficulty? Course Strategies?
My freshman year is coming to an end, and I've taken a handful of STEM courses here to speak about my experience so far––it has been quite an interesting ride!
I'm currently on a pre-health track, hoping to either major in Biology or Anthropology, or an in between of the two. Being a pre-health comes with an immense amount of responsibility, at least in the scheduling of your four year course plan. Usually, pre-health students (regardless of your major) are expected to take two quarters of general chemistry, two quarters of biology, two quarters of physics, two quarters of organic chemistry, one quarter of biochemistry, and if you want, a sociology or psychology course. And for me, by the end of this term, I'd be completing both general chemistry, one biology, and one physics course; I know, quite a bit. I wanted to share a tidbit about how these courses were for me and how I formulated my schedule.
To begin, the difficulty: pretty difficult. Even though I came from a large, academically-rigorous Californian school, the STEM courses at Dartmouth were undoubtedly time-consuming and difficult. However, one thing still stands true: if you put in the work, you'll receive the grade you desire. My scores and overall grades were truly reflective of the amount of work I put in, both to studying, doing homework, attending labs, and such. There is no "impossible" course. I'd say, so far, the most time-consuming courses have been biology and chemistry ones. They both have weekly labs, lab analyses, lectures, and X-hours. I've been drowning in work this term, but I hope to lighten the work for myself for the upcoming terms and classes.
As for scheduling, I'd NOT double up on any of these courses, truly from the bottom of my heart. I underwent a whole phase of being overconfident, constantly telling myself two STEM lab courses a term will be doable. And yes, it is doable, but immensely time-consuming. I don't feel like I have enough time for leisure or fun really. However, at the same time, I knew I wasn't a humanities person. I dislike writing 1000, 800-word papers, reading tens of hundreds of pages of books a day, and more. So, perhaps, this term is valuable to me: I genuinely enjoy attending class and studying as it all involves more practical-thinking and problem-solving.
Personally, for prospective pre-health/STEM students, I'd recommend "not" overdoing any terms. Enjoy the warm weather in the fall, outdoor activities during the winter, and the excitement of leisure on the Green in the spring. It's truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy the wide spectrum of offered classes and identify your passions, all while having fun!