Is General Chemistry at Rutgers Hard?

This semester, I’m currently enrolled in two courses: General Chemistry 161 and Intro to Experimentation 171 (AKA Chem Lab). In response to a request from one of my readers from Rutgers University, I’m going to share my experience taking Chem Lab and General Chemistry at Rutgers.

Gen chem is hard. That’s for sure. The average on the first exam was a 65.6%…. But as difficult as the class is, I think chemistry may actually be my favorite class this semester. It is a lot of work but I must admit: I find the periodic table very interesting! There is so much theory involved and I honestly do feel like I am grasping the conceptual nature of what we have gone over. Chemistry can also be fun!

My favorite was last week when we were learning about atomic shapes. It was like I was watching a cartoon. As I took notes, I seriously felt like I was actually just designing Pokémon creatures or something. Have a look:

Photo Oct 13, 6 57 59 PM (1)

The one downside (if you want to call it that) is the online recitations. Since SO MANY PEOPLE take gen chem, Rutgers decided to make chem recitations online beginning last year. I didn’t like it at first because people always use the chat box to post such foolish comments. WHY PEOPLE, WHY? Did I mention the system crashes a lot *but it IS getting better*.

The comments speak for themselves.

In fact, I think I prefer online recitations better now because you can attend recitation every day of the week if you want and re-take the quiz each day and only your highest score counts. Plus, you don’t feel as embarrassed to ask questions!

People find the actual lectures kind of useless but I personally enjoy them! I read before each class so I know what to expect in terms of the discussion and then I go to class, listen, and take notes on anything extra that I think I need to review more.

Photo Oct 13, 6 38 38 PM
and sometimes i bring dinner

Chem Lab is also fun. It is 3 hours long and most of the labs take around 2.5 of those 3 hours to complete. You can leave early if you finish early. Most of the time, I didn’t finish early. -.- Figures.

My favorite lab so far was the Paper Chromatography lab where we made pieces of paper turn different colors. Of course, it was more complex than staring at it and saying, “Oooh, pretty colorssss,” but I don’t want to give away too much in this blog post in case you happen to be planning on taking the class. Take Rutgers Chem Lab to discover the true secrets of Paper Chromatography.

Photo Sep 25, 5 07 09 PM

It is fairly competitive since only 2 to 3 students per section get an A but the experiments themselves can be enjoyable if you allow them to be. Be friendly to your classmates and remember that if it weren’t for Chem Lab, you likely wouldn’t have any reason to be dropping metal ribbons into burets filled with hydrochloric acid and watching as they react and form bubbles. Isn’t that awesome?

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This was taken during my lab today! My beaker was stolen so I had to pay to replace it. 🙁 Like I said, it’s competitive.

ALSO BE CAREFUL NEVER TO TOUCH ANYTHING BAD. I’m not sure if the lab’s soap will remove chemicals from your hands or add more to them… I once spilled hydrochloric acid on my hands and had more fear over touching the soap than the acid that was burning through my skin. Sorry for that image.

Photo Sep 25, 3 09 16 PM

If you’ve taken science classes, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below!

Remember to follow my blog too! I have an entire section devoted to my 4 years at RUTGERS UNIVERSITY! 😀

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  1. rebeccarice93

    You must be very brave to say that Chem is your favorite class this semester! The way you talk about it shows that you are actually really interested in the subject. Keep up the good work and I hope that by the end of the semester you are still able to say you enjoy this class.

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  5. Hopefully Gen Chem will be my favorite class too! Do you have any suggestions on how to study for the tests? I saw your post on studying for Gen. Bio at Rutgers, which helped a lot, but does creating organizers help for Gen Chemistry or not really?

  6. Hopefully Gen. Chem becomes my favorite class too! Do you have any suggesions on how to study for the tests? I saw your other post on how to study for Gen. Bio, which really helped, but does making organizers for Gen. Chem help or not really?

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    1. Yes, it is definitely difficult to get an A in general chemistry at Rutgers. Even if you have a background in it (which is more than I had) I think it will still be a challenge at the very least because the exams try to trick you with small things like decimal placement and similar answers where one is wrong because of some small detail that you might not catch. The curve is very decent (no proof but I suspect it’s normally between 5-10 points) and the online quizzes can be retaken every day of the week but you must consider that in order to retake a quiz you must sit through a 1 hour recitation, with classes you may not have time to attend everyday, and they are timed so if you must finish all of the questions in like 10 minutes. I would not recommend taking the class unless you’re up for a challenge. I liked chemistry but it did not do my GPA any favors. Having said that, I do not regret taking the class for fun.

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