Julie Bloom, Biology major, Enivronmental Policy and Culture minor, class of 2015
My sophomore year I took CHEM 212, organic chemistry for chemistry majors and ISP students. This course was difficult, overwhelming, and one of the greatest classes I have ever taken. My teachers pushed me to lengths unimaginable; they taught me to appreciate organic chemistry and think of it as a foreign language, something one must practice and speak every day before becoming fluent. I find Northwestern science faculty to be incredibly accessible and dedicated to their undergraduate teaching. Teachers here are inspiring and unique and, most of all, appreciate a passionate student when they see one.
So why is it then that despite the overall interest in my orgo class, three out of four members of my study group dropped their chemistry degree? I find it distressing that intellectually curious students are against majoring in chemistry because it is seen as insurmountable, intangible and not worth the time.
The United States hopes to increase its research by producing some of the smartest scientists in the world. How is this possible when the country’s top universities are demanding an all-or-none performance from their science majors? When I tell people I’m a chemistry major, I often hear condolences almost as if I were heading to a funeral. Critics suggest science classes are too lecture focused, deterring real-world application and driven students.
Science is physical; it is all around us. Organic chemistry is the chemistry of life. Every movement, even when you think you are still, thousands of processes are occurring inside and all around you that enable the world to exist as it does. Then why does everything I learn come from a slide?
As many pre-medical students at NU are aware, a new biology sequence has been put in place. With my freshman class used as the “guinea pigs,” I was frustrated with group assignments and the lengthened curriculum. However, I now appreciate these changes and see their benefits. Group work facilitates discussion and allows for perspectives to be viewed and shared. Additionally, extending the sequence enables students to delve deeper into the material, in my opinion, allowing for a more thorough and greater appreciation for the subject.
Hurtling through fall quarter of my junior year I constantly question: Where has the time gone? Recalling fondly the many hours I have spent in Tech each day, I cannot imagine going to a school with better professors and more interesting research than Northwestern. However, I do believe that there is always room for improvement in departments, especially for pre-meds. A balance must be found between fostering intellectual curiosity and maintaining a stimulating course load in order to challenge students and encourage them to continue to pursue the sciences.
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