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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

What to Expect

If you are new to college, then you may be wondering exactly what you should expect and what you will need to do to be successful. This page will hopefully answer some of your questions. Being a chemistry major requires a lot of work, but our faculty and staff are dedicated to helping you to succeed. When enrolling at Fresno State, you are assigned an academic advisor who can help to guide through the maze of courses towards graduation. Your advisor would welcome the opportunity to help you, and so be sure to seek him/her out early on.

What classes should I take?

You can find a suggested roadmap showing the classes you need to take each semester to graduate in four years is shown on this website ( BS/ BA). In addition, your academic advisor can help you to decide which courses to take. We recommend that you take no more than 15 units of classes in your first semester. In choosing your classes, there are two points that you should bear in mind. First, since science classes tend to be fairly intensive, it is a good idea not to overload your schedule with chemistry classes in your first semester, but rather to strike a balance between general education courses and chemistry major courses. Second, always make sure that you have taken the pre-requisite courses for a class before enrolling in it. Remember that higher level classes build on the knowledge and understanding that you gain in lower level classes. If you have not taken the pre-requisites for a class, then it is virtually impossible to do well in it.

How much time should I spend studying?

As you might expect, college is very different from high school where you were in school five days a week, six hours a day for a total of 30 hours per week.  National studies show that high school students average less than five hours a week on homework and so the total commitment is about 35 hours per week. In college you will be in class for much less time; 15 or so hours a week. Across the nation, however, universities recommend that students study two hours per unit per week, or 25-35 hours per week in addition to time spent in class. The total time commitment necessary to be successful in college, therefore, is around 40-50 hours a week.

How should I study?

In chemistry, a successful student goes beyond simply memorizing facts to demonstrate a deep and lasting understanding of the concepts. Your instructor’s role is to guide you through this process, but achieving this goal will require you to do more than simply attend class. Learning a subject like chemistry takes time, so don’t try to cram all of your studying into the day before an assignment is due. Work with the material a little at a time and make sure you understand each section before you move on. Keep working on problems until you feel proficient. When you reach the point where you are able to teach a concept or a problem to someone else, then you probably truly understand it.