Organic Chemistry: How You Can Make it Easier Than General Chemistry (OP-ED)

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If you are a prospective STEM major, you may have heard of Organic Chemistry, and how infamously difficult the course is. An essential pre-requisite, especially for those of you interested in medicine, Orgo (colloquially) is said to ‘make-or-break’ aspiring pre-meds. Well I am here to tell you, that Organic Chemistry may just be easier than General Chemistry.

Now, do not be fooled, this piece is not to tell you that you should approach Orgo lightly. Its reputation does not come unfounded. Orgo is hard; it requires hours-on-hours of studying and office hours visitations, and even with that, many still find difficulty mastering the art of Organic. Now I make this argument with those of you who may not have done as well in General Chemistry in mind, and what you may experience during your first year at university:

As you start your college career with introductory courses to Biology, Chemistry and Physics, you will find yourself in lecture halls filled with individuals from vastly different backgrounds. Whether their high school provided AP curricula, or had teachers equipped to properly disseminate college-level material, the playing field is vastly uneven at the Introductory level. Oftentimes, Professors seek to abide by a distribution curve, with the goal to limit the number of students who receive certain letter grades. With this system in place, students coming from well-funded high schools, oftentimes, find their way to the top of the class, with ease.

So, perhaps you fall into the group that did not do as well in your introductory courses, this does not mean you are unfit to pursue the path that you aspire to. You may just be able to turn it around with Orgo.

See, I argue that Organic Chemistry is easier than General Chemistry because for the first time, everyone is on a leveled playing field. The difficulty that is Orgo, equalizes individuals; to succeed, one must work hard, go the extra mile and seek all the help one can get. Although there are nuances (such as private education and STEM technical high schools) that do bring about outliers to this argument, for the most part, Organic Chemistry poses a challenge to students across the board. So I suppose, the best advice one can give, is to not compare yourself to others. Do your personal best, and know that, in the end, this one class will not dictate your life.

So, if you did not manage to do as well as you have aspired to in General Chemistry, do not be disheartened; Organic Chemistry may be the best and worst course you will take. It will push you to work harder than you have ever before, but it also allows insight into a world that is not common to many. By the end of it, you will be surprised as to how much you will learn, and hopefully realize how essential Organic Chemistry is, to the world that you and I live in.

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