Preparing for College Chemistry

General Chemistry is the first chemistry course for chemistry and biochemistry majors, but it is also required for many other majors in the natural and health sciences. It is also a pre-requisite for medical, dental, and pharmacy school. In General Chemistry, this first majors-level chemistry class, you should expect:

  1. Speed: General Chemistry covers a lot of chemistry quickly and at some depth.The course’s pace is relentless and will not slow down.
  2. Mathematics:  Mathematics is used to model chemical phenomena. The chemistry instructor cannot teach students in class the mathematics necessary to solve the problem. A solid preparation in math is essential for General Chemistry success.  Pre-calculus (or beyond) is optimal from a student success perspective.
  3. To seek help: If you get behind, seek help right away. Don’t be bashful. That’s why the instructor’s office door is open. (See 1.Speed above)  Implicit in this is being critically self-reflective and having motivation to grow.
  4. To read and comprehend technical information: Reading and comprehending complex technical information is a skill that can be (and must be) learned for General Chemistry. Expect to ACTIVELY read some sections 5-6 times. Plan to read each chapter actively 3 times at least. Repetition enhances comprehension.  Important chemistry problems are phrased as word problems that chemists use mathematics to solve.
  5. To pay attention to detail:  General chemistry is full of details.  Careful attention to seemingly minute details are a part of success in general chemistry.
  6. To invest time:  The successful general chemistry student will dedicate uninterrupted, not distracted time (2+ hours) into their success in the course on a DAILY BASIS throughout the entire 15 week semester. 
  7. To take ownership of learning:  Approach the course with an attitude of wanting to learn the WHY of chemical phenomena, not simply as a check box on your way somewhere else.

You should prepare by:

  1. Gaining strong math skills, through pre-calculus if possible.
  2. Reading and comprehending complex technical information.
  3. Practicing self-discipline with time and personal management.
  4. Holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines. Every assignment. Every time.

Visit the Chemistry Department website to learn about programs of study and who to contact for more information.