Undergrad – The Nightmare of Organic Chemistry

It’s the beginning of the Spring semester, I’m finishing my final 2 prerequisite courses: Organic Chemistry 2 and Biochemistry.

Who the hell let me wait to take these courses?

Let me begin by saying I loved chemistry, I’m minoring in it for heaven’s sake! However, after taking Organic Chemistry 1 last semester, I’m a bit confused now. I walked into the class with a solid understanding of the material and exited feeling like a cat that got a bath for the first time! I finished my first two exams with 95% and 87% respectively. It was when my third test came around that all organic chemistry hell broke lose and I ended up with a 54%…. ouch. I pulled through the class with a C (technically a C+, unfortunately the professor doesn’t using +/- system).

I never thought I would say this, but: I miss general chemistry.

While I’m one for puzzles and conceptual concepts, I also like to have a formula. I enjoy the pieces formulating together through rules and mathematical problems. Organic chemistry, as my prof. taught it, consisted of a lot of abstract ideas that have no real anchor to memorize them. As my prof. says: it is simply something you must know, there is no way to ‘figure’ it out.

My work schedule consists of night shifts, which does make studying a lot easier than it has throughout my undergrad. My prof. also records the lectures allowing students to watch them at home (there is an on ground and hybrid course), so the only real on-campus course I attend is the lab along with biochemistry lecture. I typically watch the lectures the day after they are posted, due to my work schedule and how late the prof. waits to post them. My notes are thorough, I take advantage of the homework offered online (not required to complete, but it gives me tons of practice!), as well as supplemental materials such as: past exams, chads videos, extra homework problems.

Some general advice I’d give would be to avoid Khan Academy like the plague! While it can give you some tips and tricks, for the most part it teaches you a lot of bad habits and assumptions in regards to Organic Chemistry! I was referred to chads videos later in the semester and I would say it was a major player in helping me on my final exam.

The lab aspects of Organic Chemistry have been a different experience; other than the tons of writing we are required to complete, it’s fun! My lab partner last semester didn’t demonstrate confidence in herself or her skills; so we worked together on getting her comfortable with lab techniques! Last semester I was also blessed with a TA who loved to interact with the class, he got to know us and made himself approachable; this helped make asking questions easy! We were assigned only 2 lab reports in the entire semester, I think we got off easy in this aspect… the professor very well could’ve decided to assign a lot more. The submission was online and in the recitation she basically gave students everything we needed to write a complete and successful report!

I came out of Organic Chemistry 1 lab with an A, which did minimal damage control on my anxiety ridden-self over getting a C in the lecture component. However, that is a discussion for next time.

Until then,

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