In about a week and a half, I'll be starting my senior year of college. Without a doubt, this final hurrah at UC Berkeley will differ from the previous three years, most obviously due to the (hopefully) tremendous influence of out-of-state interviews at medical schools, which did inform the way I selected my classes. I've also been afflicted with a sense of wistfulness, of lost opportunities for boundless intellectual expansion that high school painted my undergrad education to be. Perhaps this will be the year where I'll finally live out that dream.
Without further ado:
Cell Biology for Engineers (4 units, letter graded): to fulfill my bioengineering laboratory course requirement. It's been eons since I've been in wet lab, and while I am not thrilled, this class is reportedly fun and effective at building a practical skillset. However, the mandatory 4-hour lab block will be a sure obstacle in scheduling interviews (I hope not)
Biological Performance of Materials (4 units, letter graded): another bioengineering class. Though I semi-audited a class about mechanical testing of materials and last semester's cell and tissue engineering class had a solid amount of materials science, I've been eager to jump back into a materials course. A pal from my research lab and possibly my grad student mentor from that same lab will be taking this class as well
American Environmental and Cultural History (4 units, P/NP): most people I know completed the university American Cultures requirement as freshmen, but I've been procrastinating. Though the prevailing opinion is to take a big, easy, introductory sociology or anthropology class for an easy A, I've been waiting to find an AC that strikes my interest and fits my schedule. Easiness be damned since I'm not taking it for a letter grade anyhow. Yes! Senioritis lives on, but for practical purposes, I'll have less time than ever this semester, and I certainly don’t want to have the burden of writing articulate, well-researched/reasoned papers!
Environmental Philosophy and Ethics (4 units, P/NP): bioengineering majors are required to take an ethics class. My boyfriend coerced me (successfully) into taking this class with him, though I cannot fathom why he wants to take it for a letter grade. This class is mildly interesting to me, and though I do like the prospects of having course material support when I have to miss class, the alternative seems much more appropriate for my scholastically lazy attitude
Seminar on Social, Political, and Ethical Issues in Health & Medicine (3 units, P/NP): now this is the alternative. It's a 3-hour seminar series with no assignments. It's meducational, very interesting and popular, and relevant to my future. What stopped me from enrolling in this class first (unit cap on enrolling in classes until Aug. 17) was a concern about the grading scheme. If it's by attendance, then I may be screwed over by interviews. Thus, I enrolled in the above class just to be safe, and will drop either this one or the class above when I decide which one I prefer
If I have time time, I'll audit a Spanish class.
I'm not sure what this course load will be like. With so many P/NP units, how heavy will this burden actually be? Will my dreams of a chill senior year be dashed by the hectic interview season? Am I overestimating my ability to net interviews? Time will tell. However, the stark difference between this schedule and its predecessors is its remarkable lack of technical classes. I've taken 4 techs in a semester several times, and even those with 3 have been tough to bear (Spring 2015, with 3 techs + 5 letter graded units of Español). I'm so used to going full throttle with my schedule that having something lightweight is putting me off-kilter before instruction even begins.
Of course, research, clinic stuff, and MD application cycle 2016 will have more opportunities to intervene this semester, so I'll need to stay alert and ready to put some serious work in. Diligence is the engineering major's virtue.