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Failed organic chemistry twice!


jubileebud
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This is a long one! (Sorry!)

I just graduated last year in May and as the title says, I failed organic chemistry twice. I entered college originally as a pre-med major and did okay in some subjects and bad in others. Below is a copy of what's on my transcript. 

PRIN BIOL II B 
CHEM FUNDAMENTALS I C 
CHEM I LABORATORY C 
ELEM CALCULUS I D+ 
INTRO PSYCHOLOGY C
STUDENT IN UNIVERSITY A 
GPA 2.200

PRIN BIOL I C 
ORGANIC CHEMISTRY I (Withdrew)
ORGANIC CHEM LAB I B 
ELEM CALCULUS I *Repeated Course* B 3.00 3.00 9.00 MS
GPA 2.909

PRIN BIOL III ORGANISMAL C 
ORGANIC CHEMISTRY I *Repeated Course* D 
ELEM CALCULUS II A 
 

Cumulative GPA in the Sciences so far: 2.628


So here's some background info: I really, really love the sciences and I'll admit I struggled immensely my freshman and sophomore year of college. It wasn't because of personal reasons or because of lack of trying (I went to tutoring for orgo all semester long, plus talked to TA and professor). I did tried my hardest and do NOT want to give up. I ended up switching my major and got A's and B's all through my last three years of college (was a super senior) and graduated with GPA of 3.2

My ultimate goal is to get a PhD in Virology and I know its going to be a struggle to get there and that it will take a long time and I'm prepare for that. So here's my question: How can I get back on track? Should I retake these courses at a community college or an university? I know my chances are null, but I'm not willing to give up.

 

PS: I have not done any research of any kind. My plan was to go to a program that had rotating labs and spend a year deciding on what exactly i wanted to do.

Thanks for you reply in advance!

Edited by jubileebud
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You're gonna need research if you want to get into graduate school, especially with a low GPA. Those low grades in science classes are going to raise some red flags with the admissions committee. May I ask what you switched your major to?

 

If you want to get into grad school, it's going to take a serious amount of effort and some time. You ought to try getting a job related to what you want to study and work in that for several years, so you can build experience, get strong recommendations, and draw attention away from your transcript. You can also retake some of these bio and chem classes at a university (a community college will not cut it) and make A's in most if not all of them. You need to prove that your undergrad performance was a fluke and the person portrayed in your transcript doesn't exist anymore.

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I switched my major to art studio (yes, yes, please go ahead and roll your eyes) and finished my last three years strong with all A's and a few B's and no C's so I was able to push up my GPA. I've looked online to see if anyone one was in a similar boat as me and read a few lucky stories of students in my same situation. 

 

I am aware my chances are very slim and that its going to take a LONG while, but I'm planning to stick to it.

 

Thanks for your advice Double Shot. It's going to be difficult for me to go into a field in science with my major (I've tried and applied to a few places already).

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Double Shot is actually just a member "ranking" they do here on grad cafe. My username is right above it (but I can see how this could be misleading).

I can imagine it'll be very difficult to find any job related to science with a non-science degree. You really ought to start taking some science classes while working SOME job (just to pay for them) and continue looking for more job opportunities that are more closely related to what you want to study. Then you'll need to work in that job a while to get some experience.

 

Just out of curiosity, why are you interested in the sciences instead of art studio? Usually performance in a particular subject dictates what we're most interested in. I took some art courses back in high school, and I was the joke of the class (literally). Only made C's and B's (the B's were out of sympathy), but I've always excelled in science and math. As much as I enjoy art, I enjoy science and math more. I think part of it comes from the fact that I'm good at it but also from an innate desire to do research in it.

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It's a long story, but I've been interested in the sciences since 6th grade after seeing a NOVA special on the Ebola Virus in science class. Ever since then, I've bought a microscope and things escalated from there. I'm also very artistic, it was always a hobby, so when I switched majors, I honestly panicked and just picked something I was very familiar with (I tried economics and that did not like it) and good at and thankfully I did in that I upped my GPA and it felt like the rest of my undergrad was smooth sailing (well, not really, but good enough). 

 

So, needless to say, I want to concentrate on viruses and hopefully getting my PhD sometime in this life on virology. I have not done research so I can't go further than knowing I want to work with viruses. 

 

Thanks tarman for you honest replies! I've kept all of science books and have been reading through them and practicing the problems in the book to get better. I'm really serious about it and really putting in my effort to find a way back into the sciences.

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I would say you're probably going to need to go back and get a BS in a related field. 

 

You won't have the background courses or research experience to head to grad school coming from a really week 2 years of science and then an Art Studio degree. 

 

You might be able to get into a weaker MS program, and move up from there, but if you went back and did well with a second BS, you could probably apply straight to virology PhD programs. 

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Chiming in to agree with everything Eigen recommended. Unfortunately, I don't think any MS or PhD programs will care about the 3.2 GPA since it was boosted by classes irrelevant to your intended field of study. They'll only be focused on that very low science GPA. Re-doing your BA and getting a very good GPA in advanced science courses (I'm talking much higher than a 3.2 here) would put you in a very good position to apply to PhD programs. This would also open up research opportunities. Make sure you do the BA at a school where research in your field is being done. Good luck!

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An important point that you didn't address in your post and which I don't think anybody has brought up:

 

Before you go ahead with any kind of plan, you need to reflect very deeply on your past performance and ask yourself why you received the grades you did. Attempting the same classes again and trying to get into graduate school for virology will be painful and pointless if you don't figure out what you were doing wrong and how you're going to fix it. Trying hard is good, but it's not sufficient to achieve good grades or to achieve your goal. You need to study properly and efficiently, not just study hard--otherwise, you may find the same thing happening again. Everybody studies differently, and everybody learns best from different types of resources and teaching styles, so you really need to determine what is optimal for you. I cannot stress this enough.

 

Also, you might really want to get some research experience before committing to any path. If you find that you hate biology research, well, that'll put a wrench in things.

 

Good luck. It's clear you have a passion for the material, and that in itself is half the battle.

 

 

Thank you for bringing that up that important point. I've actually have already done reflection on this and I know what part of myself and studying habits I need to improve. I'm currently working on studying smarter and also making sure I don't make the same mistakes again.

 

Alright then, I guess a second bachelors it is. 

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Why do you want to get a PhD in Virology? I know a guy worked in a virology lab as a lab tech with a BS in Biology.

Have you considered to go interview with a couple of professors or grad students in the similar field (i.e. immunology, microbiology etc.) to see how is it like? Because you don't have any relevant research experiences in the field.

You will most likely need to have a BS in the related field (i.e. Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology etc.) or, you could shadow in a virology lab or in the similar field, or, work as a lab technician or a volunteer in a virology lab to gain some hands on experience.

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As everyone else has already stated, you will need to get another B.S., this time in a related field, like microbiology, and with a better GPA. Of course, aim high, so you can offset your previous university experience.

 

While you're doing your second degree, you won't be having the same introductory experiences as most of the first year students. So, spend your time with internships, especially (I can not emphasize this enough) ones where you can do independent research. You could work with a professor at your university, or take part-time industry work to get some experience. You need to show that you have the skills necessary to do Ph.D. work in virology, while you offset your previous work.

 

I recommend reading through blogs, like Cal Newport's Study Hacks, for information on how to study more effectively. He also gives advice for graduate school success and being happy overall as a student. 

 

I also respect your dedication to virology though, and I think that admissions offices will be interested in how you progressed through your schooling. The passion behind your interest in virology research is just as important as your grades, if not more so in some aspects. So, just keep pushing to get the "on-paper" stuff.

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As everyone else has already stated, you will need to get another B.S., this time in a related field, like microbiology, and with a better GPA. Of course, aim high, so you can offset your previous university experience.

 

While you're doing your second degree, you won't be having the same introductory experiences as most of the first year students. So, spend your time with internships, especially (I can not emphasize this enough) ones where you can do independent research. You could work with a professor at your university, or take part-time industry work to get some experience. You need to show that you have the skills necessary to do Ph.D. work in virology, while you offset your previous work.

 

I recommend reading through blogs, like Cal Newport's Study Hacks, for information on how to study more effectively. He also gives advice for graduate school success and being happy overall as a student. 

 

I also respect your dedication to virology though, and I think that admissions offices will be interested in how you progressed through your schooling. The passion behind your interest in virology research is just as important as your grades, if not more so in some aspects. So, just keep pushing to get the "on-paper" stuff.

 

Thank you so much! I just submitted an application a few minutes ago for the incoming fall for a second bachelors and also researched some internship programs with both the NIH and the CDC. Some I'm really interested in, but I don't meet the credentials so I'll be working on that as soon as I am able to. 

 

Thank you for the blog. I'll be sure to look into it. My major problem was that I went into college studying the way I did for high school which I found out too late that I should change my study habits. I definitely have improved and feel as if I'm doing more effective studying now. Anyways, studying for the GRE now which I will take in June. Already took a practice test and started going over the math. 

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