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SAQ: Should I take GenChem for fun?

Posted by on Sunday, June 4, 2017 in Academics, College Life, College of Arts and Science, Commons, Freshman Life, General Information, Pre-Med, Pre-Med, Student Life, Studying.

Dear Sophie,

I took GenChem in high school and I sort of liked it. I’m not thinking of majoring in anything related, but I was thinking of taking it for fun. What do you think? 


Hello friend! What an interesting question :) I’ll try to answer it best I can.
GenChem, with a 3-hour lecture, 1-hour discussion a week, and corresponding 3-hour lab, is a 4-hour credit class. It’s time consuming, even if the material seems really easy (usually, not so much).  Every week there is mandatory online homework to complete called Sapling, and I highly recommend attending class. The exams are also usually 7-9 pm on Thursday nights, so that’s not too fun either.
I assume if you’re “not thinking about majoring in anything related,” you’re thinking a major that’s more humanities-driven, since all engineers have to take GenChem that first semester. What are you thinking about majoring in? So, although you will have to take a lab science for AXLE if you’re in the College of Arts and Sciences, you can take Geology, Oceanography, Astronomy, or a more highly-recommended class called Human Bio (I’m not sure if that’s a lab science or not, but I think it counts for a science requirement). There’s also “Chemistry for non-Science majors” or something like that. Again, I’m not too clear on the specifics of what qualifies for AXLE and what doesn’t, if you do happen to be in A&S, but your counselor will clarify that with you a little later into the summer.
With that said, if you’re planning on majoring in something not related, I’d go ahead and take as many classes in things relating to what you are interested in pursuing long-term. You can take up to 18 hours, though I’d recommend something more along the lines of 14 or 15 (5 classes) first semester since there’s a whole lot of adjusting first semester and you don’t want to be studying all the time. If you decide that you still want to take GenChem spring semester, there is a Section 1 class that Spring. My best advice is that what you want to do right now might not be what you want to do in a semester, and it’s best to figure that out right now with taking classes in things you know you’re definitely interested in. Most of what picking a major (or majors) involves narrowing down out of all your current interests into what you’re not interested in to what you are interested in, and that will definitely change over the course of college.
But there are so many classes at Vanderbilt, and so many hours to fill with whatever you’re interested in pursuing. Let me know what you’re interested in pursuing, and we can talk from there.
SAQ (Sophie Answers Questions) is the results of questions that I’ve been emailed and may be useful to others. If you have a question, go ahead and email me at 

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