Sunday, June 16, 2024

Biochemistry drop out

MosaicCampus LifeBiochemistry drop out

Co-Managing Mosaic Editor

If you’re a sophomore biochemistry or chemistry major, you may know me, or you may have noticed my disappearance from your General Chemistry class mid-semester. You see, I fled from the biochemistry major. While it’s hard to say whether biochemistry wasn’t ready for me or I just wasn’t ready for biochemistry, I can definitely say that we were not a good fit. 

I’ll be the first to say that I failed the honors section of General Chemistry. Does my transcript say that? It does not, so please keep that information between us. I withdrew like a champion and now, instead of an “f”  on my transcript, I have a “w.” To most people, “w” stands for winner, so I will not be made to feel embarrassed about leaving the class. 

Let me explain why I did what I did. First of all, I didn’t take A.P. Chemistry in high school. My professor — if you know you know — assumed that everyone in the class was an expert in chemistry. On the first day of class, he told us that we were going to start on chapter two because we shouldn’t need to refresh our chemistry knowledge. He then proceeded to ask us about the chemistry behind lithium batteries. Everyone in the room was left speechless. I didn’t even remember how to read the periodic table! 

The professor told the class that he didn’t believe in Canvas and wouldn’t be lecturing from slideshow presentations with the course content. Instead, he ended up placing a webcam over a scrap sheet of [blank] paper and scribbling down answers to random questions from the textbook. The best part? Nobody could even decipher his handwriting. 

Best explained in his own words, the professor told the class that he was “75% research, 25% teaching.” He continued to say that he didn’t want to be teaching this class and would be focusing his time and energy on his research. As you can tell, this professor cared greatly about making his students feel valued and appreciated. 

The biggest sign that I wasn’t cut out for this class was that I couldn’t answer a single question in the textbook. This turned out to be detrimental to my academic success — the entirety of the first exam contained questions copied and pasted from the textbook. 

After taking the exam, I returned to the main lounge of Louis Redding Hall to see hundreds of Insomnia Cookies being given to students in the chemistry class. You know you’re in a bad situation when the Honors College has to console you after an exam with cookies. They were very delicious though … and necessary. 

About a week later, I got the exam back. I scored … a 27%. Yeah. I had been humbled beyond repair. The only hope that I had for saving this exam grade was begging my professor to let me retake the exam or get extra credit. 

Surprisingly, the professor showed mercy and created a new exam consisting of 50 points worth of extra credit. This meant that I could (theoretically) obtain a passing grade on the exam. When people say “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” they mean it. I was given two days to learn how to solve a single chemistry word problem and … I couldn’t do it. I got 10 out of 50 possible points back from the extra credit exam. 

My favorite part of the exam was crossing out a question because I didn’t like it. Instead, I wrote the question I wanted and answered that one instead. I wasn’t going to get the question right anyway so I had nothing left to lose. Unfortunately, the professor did not find that choice as entertaining as I had. 

After receiving my extra credit exam back, I accepted that I had no hope in this class. I told the professor that chemistry was simply not my thing and his class taught me that. I thanked him for making the class so difficult, thinking he’d find it endearing, because it showed me that I hated chemistry and saved me from suffering through biochemistry for the next four years. I truly did mean this in the nicest way possible. I was grateful!

The professor seemed to support my decision to drop the class and change my major. Note the fact that I said, “seemed.” According to my former classmate, the professor took what I said very personally. I must have broken him; I hear he asked about me a lot before suddenly announcing he was going on sabbatical (suspicious timing much?).

To all the chemistry or biochemistry majors who stuck it out, I send you all my best wishes while also being grateful that I’m not you. I’m out here having a blast in environmental science!




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