How I Survived (And Enjoyed) Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry.

For those of us who are familiar with the mechanisms, notations, and experiments after taking the course, you will likely hear it commonly called “Orgo”. To some, the class conjures memories for those who have taken, or heard of, its challenging reputation.

Coming to Swarthmore, I had a particular interest in the sciences, and once General Chemistry was finished, I contemplated whether to take Organic Chemistry during my second semester as a freshman. After some thought, I was reassured from several upperclassmen and professors that resources would be available to help with the challenging content and lab experiments. When class registration came in December, I, along with several other freshman, registered for Orgo for the Spring term.

I am happy to have taken the advice from my lab professor (Dr. Gallagher) to take Orgo despite the warnings about the difficulty. I am not discounting Orgo’s challenging content because many of us, if not all, found the content and lab challenging. However, the resources and availability of our professors made the class bearable and enjoyable.

Throughout the term, we were offered daily opportunities to further ask questions and learn the material. I quickly realized that access to our professor and lab instructors was not limited in any sense. In fact, our professor holds office hours every day during the week, and our lab lecturer also holds office hours on a daily basis.

The ability to have one-on-one access to the professor and lab lecturer throughout the week helped immensely to further clarify questions or homework problems that came up during class. On top of this, alchemist sessions are held three times per week, and during this time, we learn from students who have taken the class already. This outlet gives us the chance to get another perspective on content from the lecture or lab.

An Alchemist and I go over material for an upcoming quiz. A very useful resource to have on a Sunday night at 8 pm!
Dr. Gallagher, my lab professor, and I during her daily office hours review a recent experiment from earlier in the week.

These opportunities to have daily one-on-one help for the class allowed us to go through Orgo with support that has enabled us to survive Organic Chemistry. And, beyond that, these outlets to ask questions about the class gave me the chance to enjoy the subject with the comfort of knowing that there is a willingness to help from our classmates, alchemists, and professors, day in and day out.

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