Of course you can

Dear future chemistry students,

Studying chemistry might not be the pleasant experience you anticipated.* Theory, math, problem solving, and working problems you’ve never seen before can cause stress.

If you did not have a strong foundation in high school (I didn’t either), or you have a heavy course load, or you have a full time job, or you are an athlete, or you would rather play ultimate Frisbee than study, it’s ok.

Find half an hour a day to think about and practice your chemistry. First thing in the morning. Last thing at night. Under a tree after lunch. Do it alone. Review your notes and make a list of questions.

Study with a group AFTER you have studied alone. If you join a group before you have arranged ideas in your own head, you will feel frustrated by the perceived brilliance of your peers. How do they know so much? They studied alone (in secret) before meeting with the group. Try it. Then when you meet with the group, you might all be about halfway through the hard problems, and together can figure them out.

If you don’t score high on your first exam, don’t give up. There is plenty of time to dig in and work harder and master the material. It’s impossible to know how much to study for a professor’s first exam until you take it. Insurance would consist of OVER-studying, and might be worthwhile since the first exam is (almost) always the easiest and looks like preschool work by the end of the semester.

Just because you don’t know it yet, doesn’t mean you won’t do better next time.

BTW, please come to office hours. We’re sitting there, waiting for you to come by and discuss our favorite topics. Office hours are fun. Don’t miss them just for a little nap.


*Yes, I have been said to be sarcastic sometimes. Listen for the tone.


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