non-traditional u-grad needs encouragement

Linda S. Berris lberri1 at
Fri Apr 5 10:28:04 EST 1996

"Julie M. Phillips" <jphillip at> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I've been involved in bio and natural sciences for about 15 years.  I 
> really *love* the field with a passion and am gearing towards 
> specializing in genetics.  My current dilemma is O-chem.  While I find 
> the material absolutely fascinating, I'm having a horrible time learning 
> synthesis which is what the remainder of the year is comprised.  At this 
> point I'm so frustrated and depressed about this I'm thinking of 
> exploring other fields even though I'm very close to finishing my degree. 
> I've always done well in prior chem classes, but this one is a real bear! 
> Any words of encouragement from someone who's been there and advice for 
> conquering this beast would be greatly appreciated.
> Thanks in advance,
> Julie

Hi Julie,
I completely sympathize!  Organic chem, for me, was like a rite of
passage ... once I got through it, I felt like I could do anything!
I was a pre-vet student at the time (somewhat non-traditional since
I was older and had been out of school for some time) and I started
to think that maybe I should think of an alternate career!  It helped
to hear from graduate vets that THEY had suffered with O-chem too!
What helped me was (1) getting help from the prof at office hours
virtually every week, (2) getting every possible study aid (i.e. Problem
Solvers, Schaum outlines, etc.) I could afford, and (3) as was suggested
by someone else, writing out everything...synthesis is a toughie, but
somehow the process of writing everything out helps you to retain the
material better (something to do with being an "active" rather than
"passive" learner).  Above all, hang in there, take it a day at a time, and
before you know it, the term will be over and you will never have to
do synthesis problems again for the rest of your life (in genetics, you
need to know some properties of organic chem but you will not be doing
synthesis yourself!!)!

Good luck
Linda Berris
University of Illinois at Chicago

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