Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chem Meltdown

I benignly and passively waited until lecture was over yesterday, sitting in my seat and waiting until the line of students waiting to ask questions had dissipated. My professor saw me sitting in my seat, apparently looking distraught, and came over to me, asking what was wrong. I simply told him I needed to make an appointment to speak with him in detail about my performance and future in his course, preferably before March 3rd, as this was the last day to drop the course without a grade. He literally looked confused and baffled and any other synonymous word to add to puzzlement. He asked what is wrong.

I spilled it.

That I am a straight-A student with an existing degree. That I have already aced this chemistry course before but because I am a transfer science major, UC guidelines state I must retake it. That I am always the curve-breaker. That I cannot seem to crack the homework software or the exams. That if I drop his course, I am dropping from UC altogether. That I am a registered respiratory therapist, and thus already have a great job that is stable in this horrid economy, and how there could be worse things than not becoming a doctor. I started to tear up a bit with this last statement. I know, after talking with the residents at work, with other med school applicants, with my professors, and more, that I will get into medical school so long as I can keep my GPA intact. That I realize the course is difficult and is considered one of the hurdles pre-med students need to overcome to get through undergrad. That the class is well-known for its "weeding-out" tendencies. I want to be a doctor more than I have wanted anything in my life. When I squint my eyes and try to see in the distant future, I cannot see myself doing anything else. I do not want to drop out, but I am not willing to let all of my work go down the drain (i.e. my GPA).

Just 5 minutes before, I witnessed a classmate hand him a drop slip, anfd heard him say, "It just isn't working out for you, is it?" Then he signed the slip.

He most definitely didn't do this with me. Instead, he wanted to know what was going on, why I was having this trouble. I told him very tactfully, but candidly, everything I was thinking. The homework software that is so finicky about the answers. The exam that psyched me out because it was worded completely different than either the lectures or the text. I spoke of how I could not blame my work schedule, as I am off during the week. That I cannot blame the whole this-just-doesn't-click-with-everyone issue, because I comprehend the lectures very well. I even told him how some of the students in the class have taken issue with how he lectures, but that I actually like the way he lectures: he doesn't simply regurgitate the text or the PowerPoints, but actually speaks on the topics and makes us think and participate by the questions he asks. That most of the class is having the same problem I am, but that, quitesimply, I do not care about the rest of the class. I care about my performance. He seemed surprised that no one else has come forward. I was shocked to hear that, as all of the students grumble about this class.

We talked for over 45 minutes. He offered many tips and suggestions. I tried some of them out last night, and actually got an A on the homework because of it. As a result, I am continuing in the class, and in my education overall. I have a new resolve. I have exactly 3 weeks to bring up my grade. The first opportunity is an exam tomorrow.

Now you know what I will be doing all day and night.

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