Do you ever find yourself studying on a Friday night, or taking notes whilst your buddies take keg stands? Or, perhaps, question if life is really worth living on a daily basis? If so, you are probably either a biology major or need to be referred to counseling services, though the two oft go hand-in-hand.
Despite being but a modest junior, I have spent many a night locked inside screwing up lab experiments or writing lab reports. The purpose of this column isn’t to discourage you brave souls who have chosen to be a doctor, nurse, geneticist or pathologist, but rather to let you know that there are useful resources to prevent you from ever picking up a 9mm and blowing some Pb into your brain – if you do not know what that is, do yourself a favor and switch majors immediately. I may be a biopsychology major now, but, having taken the vast majority of the biology major pre-reqs, my decision to switch was based primarily on a desire to rediscover my sanity.
First, the most important thing to remember when enrolling in such enjoyable classes as organic chemistry is to bond with your classmates – no pun intended. Dante has reserved a special circle in hell for bio majors, so bear in mind that your purgatory does not belong to you alone. Study groups are always a handy way to learn the ropes, and provide a valuable outlet for bitching about life’s unfairness. On that same note, it is imperative that you join CLAS, lest you blow your tuition to become a fry attendant at your local McDonald’s. Signing up for tutoring is not accepting defeat, nor is it another obstacle in the way of having a social life, but it is a great way to get someone sympathetic to translate chemistry into English for us laypeople. Last year, CLAS was a lifesaver for me, and it is an excellent way to meet other people who you will likely study/suffer with in the near future.
As far as reading goes, don’t – unless that is how you learn best. I survived organic chemistry without ever having to open my book more than twice, although it does make a lovely bookend. Reading the text will promote further confusion, and, trust me, your eyes would much rather be studying the d-orbitals on the girl next to you than the figures drawn in the text. Studying the material is a good idea, but it should only be used for reinforcement of difficult concepts, and for brainstorming questions for the teacher. Which brings me to my next point: Use your teacher as a resource! Though the course material is difficult, the professors are not out to get you. They genuinely care that you both learn and appreciate the beauty of ethanol, especially considering your body is probably struggling to break it down as we speak. Additionally, always go to class and take good notes. This may seem tedious and a tad laborious at times, but remember, the more work you do during class, the less studying you’ll have to later.
Finally, for you sophomores out there, it would be most unwise to sign-up for an o-chem lab in Fall Quarter. Fall is a great time for you to orient yourself with the concepts and learn how to work out the kinks before you bust a Bill Nye in the laboratory. You might as well enroll in a women’s studies course – it will be just as impossible to understand.
Recent studies have proven Professor Pettus responsible for Pluto’s well-publicized demotion, since his ego, having a larger gravitational pull, more closely resembles a planet. Please, do yourself a favor and prolong the judgment for as long as possible, and you shall reap the benefits of your labor in due time.
Good luck, fellow bio majors, and have a great year.