If you're reading this, good luck. Cornish is not a good instructor. Her lectures aren't helpful for her exams. Plus, she goes on random asides during the lectures. Just like every other science course here, this class is mostly about doing the homework and going to her or the TA's office hours for additional help. The exams are hard because there are only 4-5 questions and it really doesn't feel like you get to demonstrate your orgo knowledge. Don't let her policy of dropping 2 exams fool you into thinking this class is easy. You need to understand all the previous material for subsequent exams. Exam 1 is the easiest, so make sure to do well on it. If you do well on exam 1, don't get cocky because the class gets much more difficult. The first 3-4 questions on each exam are very similar to the homework problems, but the last question is always a ridiculously hard question that you can't study for. You just gotta write what you know and pray you get some points. Recitation quizzes barely count for anything, so you really have to do well on the exams.
Prof Doubleday is a genuinely nice enough professor--if you understand organic chemistry. If you don't get it, he tries, but the level of impatience escalates exponentially; and then he's pretty much useless (particularly as the class progresses) because he cannot seem to explain things on a level other than for the A student. I have seen it happen to people. And, let's face it, we aren't all gifted in the same way. But, I'm sure if you are here you have your gifts. So I'm celebrating them by telling you be sure you need to take Organic Chemistry before you take it. It's not just for shits and giggles. If you are one of those who likes to cram for exams, well this is not the class to take. In fact, don't take Organic Chemistry at all. Just move on to something you're passionate about. You'll be A LOT happier, and anyway, as interesting as Organic Chemistry is, it really isn't for the tangential polymath. You can't merely just be "interested," sadly. His first exam was a piece of cake. (See stats of previous review as they are accurate.) The second exam probably shocked most people as being significantly harder than the first. The third exam is about the same as the second. And the final was just ridiculously and unnecessarily long and tricky for no good reason; not to mention repetitive. I cannot fathom why this final exam had to be 15 pages long. Maybe to compete with Cornish's? I heard her exam was even longer. Regardless, I was bored to tears and pissed off because I had another exam to take; and I was sleepy and petulant by the end. The work load, I feel, is heavy. Some geniuses might disagree. I also feel that he spends too much time on beginning concepts and not enough time on synthesis/mechanism stuff, which is where the class begins to fall apart in my humble (well maybe not so humble) opinion. Doubleday is grandfatherly in his teaching style in class, which I found endearing. He also spends more time outside of class helping students than any other professor in the sciences (besides my physics professor: Humensky and Schaevitz). As the class progressed his lectures got a little bit more scatter-brained, and he starts to talk to himself and laugh directly at the blackboard without paying any attention to us. It's some sort of angel and devil on the shoulders dispute he has going on, which can be humorous at first, but gets very old and annoying particularly if the concept at hand is difficult and requires careful and focused delivery. Bottom line: Doubleday is likable, and in fact, lovable if you're doing well. If you're not I'm sure you will find him annoying and you will complain about everything in the class--from his kowtowing to the textbook, to his overt internal dialogue, to his exams, to his office hours where all the sycophants gather weekly like hens to the roost. But maybe you'd find any professor annoying if you weren't doing well. You'll really have to soul search for the answer to this. I can be of no help there. A word about the TAs: All TAs as you know are not created equal. This class was insanely unfair because of it. One TA gave her students plenty of help (via handouts and extra problems). The other did nothing of the sort, and was a poor lecturer. The quizzes were easy if you just read the notes again and did a few problems. I'd like to see statistically how the students faired in the class overall by TA. But that will probably never be allowed to happen at CU because they have a stick up their asses about grading and policy and an ballooned ego the size of the Hindenburg.
Professor Doubleday is a decent lecturer and makes himself readily available to his students. He strikes me as having genuine passion for the material and wanting his students to do well. He holds 3 review sessions during exam weeks in addition to office hours and private appointments. He seems friendly and approachable in lecture, however, I found him to be surprisingly abrupt during office hours. His exams are straightforward for the most part. He provides the previous 5 years of exams and borrows heavily from these (although I hear he may draw less from old exam questions going forward). The final exam was more difficult than anticipated and the medians reflected this. Generally you'll find one or two unexpected question types. My approach was to master the practice exams and do the chapter problems twice. Medians on the midterm exams were ~90,~70,~70. Medians on the final (which itself constitutes 3 midterms) were lower. The class median this semester including all drops and adjustments was a 77, which curved to a B. Above an 88 (and possibly a little less than an 88) should've gotten you an A.
I got a C+ -- read it, C+ -- in Colin's class, and I still think he is an AWESOME instructor. and I learned a ton. Oh, but how could such a contradiction be? It's not that I didn't have an understanding of the material. I was teaching it to other students, went to tutoring multiple times per week, and worked thoroughly through all the problem sets until I had the logic cold. And above all it was Colin -- both the clarity of his lectures, and his dedication to answering problems over email and his long office hours -- that permitted this understanding to happen. He is in complete command of the material, is able to break it down simply for people, cracks actually funny jokes, and always seems to have time to meet with undergrads, even though he runs a huge lab. But I bombed one midterm and the final because of other stuff going on in my life. As in, taking the final, I was in such bad mental condition that I mixed up left and right, and didn't even realize it when I double-checked it. I did well on the other exams. Far be it from me, Mr. C+, to give you advice on how to succeed in his class. But I am passing on wisdom that I learned from other students: 1) With Colin, it's not a matter of doing hundreds and hundreds of problems, which is the advice often given to orgo students. It's a matter of thoroughly understanding the specific material that HE presents. You can almost throw away the textbook, which in our case was McMurry, and is not particularly well-written. (It's even got grammar and spelling mistakes.) So: take as perfect notes as possible of what he writes in class. And do all the problems that HE writes. For, these are the types of concepts and problems that will appear on the exams. 2) Make yourself flash cards with prompts on one side that force you can explain back all his material in full detail. Every arrow, every little set of electrons moving around, every 3-D structure. Everything. 3) If there's anything, anything that's unclear to you, ASK him. Ask HIM, preferably, not a TA. The TAs are sometimes wrong. 4) Memorize these flash cards, so that you can write them out almost perfectly on paper. 5) Teach them to another student, to solidify your ability for recall. 6) Be Zen when you go into the tests. You'll see stuff that might be a bit more complex than what he's taught. But just repeat to yourself the following mantra: "Colin has given us all the tools to solve his problems." And he has. You'll find yourself recalling concepts from the flash cards that will apply to the specific problem at hand. It's a little bit of mixing and matching. You need a screwdriver here, a jackhammer there, but you've got everything you need. I promise. Lots of people got As in Colin's class. It's just that life does indeed contain sometimes sad vagaries, and my ship sailed into one of them, stranding me in C+ waters, and causing my pre-med committee to freak out.
I couldn't agree more with the most recent positive review below me. I also felt the need to post on this forum because the reviews I saw for Doubleday were overwhelmingly negative, and I really can't fathom how that's possible. As the reviewer below me wrote: DOUBLEDAY MAKES THE CLASS THE EASIEST IT CAN POSSIBLY BE. It's not an easy class, especially second semester, but Doubleday is enthusiastic and clear most of the time, tho he does have a tendency to look at the board and mutter sometimes. He gives previous years exams for you to review (five per test - that's like, unheard of!) and he is absolutely straightforward about what he will test on, and best of all, THAT'S ACTUALLY WHAT HE SPENDS HIS TIME TEACHING. Both semesters I have relied almost exclusively on Doubleday's lecture notes and the practice tests, only reading the textbook when I was confused or needed clarification on something very specific. I got an A first semester, and found the class relatively straightforward and sort of easy, doing about 4-8 hours of studying per week. Flashcards for reactions are critical at least for me, and I spend a lot of time writing and reviewing those. Don't do what I did and get cocky from good early exams though - the class is very cumulative in what is learned (tho only the final is actually 'cumulative') so you must keep up and don't rely on good grades on the easy early stuff!
I took this course a while ago (Fall 2010) and received a B+, which was very inconsequential to me since I didn't end up being premed and just wound up using it as a SEAS tech elective. Overall I'd say Cornish isn't a terrible instructor. I think she really does care. She sometimes will have people come on the board and write answers, which I kind of liked, since it allows you to get some brownie points if you're keeping up with the work and have studied. If you're one of those people who expects a professor who answers to their every whim (like the person lower down who complained about her not answering emails) then you might be disappointed. She doesn't spoonfeed you what you need to know for the tests and you really do need to know all your reactions (I made flash cards.) You also need to know how to draw molecules and bonds properly, thermodynamics of reactions and she also recommended we memorize Pka constants (I didn't really end up doing this YOLO.) Even if you do this there will still always be some curveballs. I personally had never seen any Organic Chem before, and I'm fairly sure there were like 5-6 people in the class who had that wound up destroying the curve on every test. It happens. I ended up working pretty hard for my B+, but that's life. Overall I wouldn't say you should try to avoid her, but if you want somebody easier I wouldn't necessarily recommend her either.
LECTURES: Pretty straight forward. Professor Campos posts his lecture notes on courseworks about 30 minutes before lecture so it's handy to print them out before going into class as the reactions can move pretty quickly. There are times when Professor Campos makes mistakes on the board but the students catch onto it quickly. Professor Campos is also pretty clear on what he wants you to know in terms of reactions and basic concepts. The tricky part is knowing how to piece everything together. QUIZZES: The TA's are extremely helpful. In my semester, the TA's seemed to be working together to make sure the students had a lot of practice and study material. The quizzes can get kinda tough so prepare in advance. I find the worksheets the TA's give are very indicative of their quizzes in retrospect. 5 quizzes total, 1 dropped. Quiz composite grade is 1 unit. GW: These things are called group worksheets. They are essentially a 4 part exam question that you're given to work on with 2~3 other people as a group. He assigns the problem by courseworks and it is due in 24 hours. It's graded kinda like a problem set where everything is standardized. The honor code is used. This problem can get kinda annoying as the group that you work with must be a new group every GW. There are 3 GW's. I found them to be a hassle. GW composite is 1 unit. EXAMS: There are three exams. Difficulty is pretty tough. You need to be able to use the reactions that you learn like you're using lego building blocks thus I suggest getting comfortable with the reactions quickly. Also, practice is key because there are certain patterns that will arise that will most likely be used on the exams. Each exam is 1 unit and the final exam is 2 units. CURVE: That lands us with a total of 7 units. 5 of the 7 units will be counted. One will come from either the quizzes or the gw. The 4 other units will come from the exams. The exams are dropped based on how well you did with respect to the class. If you do average it's likely you'll get a B.
I wasn't planning on reviewing Prof. Cornish, but after reading some of her reviews...I feel like future Cornish students may need a new perspective. So here it goes: 1) Do the practice problems. I did about 80% of the book problems in the problem sets (after the first exam, I did not do the hard "challenge" problems). I also read the book - it was totally necessary to pore over Mcmurry to be able to do the homework problems. However, the "extra" problems in the problem sets that are not in the book are more important than the other problems - often there will be a test problem similar to at least one of the homework problems. (I found that having the student solutions manual to the Mcmurry was extremely helpful!!) 2) There are no surprises on Cornish's exams. They're all basically the same - they test the concepts that you HAVE to know, and then there's the "apply-your-knowledge-to-a-new-situation" problem that is typically doable, but really really hard. I never got more than half credit on those challenge problems, but it was okay - as Cornish said, as long as you do well on the first (easy) part of the test, you'll do fine on the rest of the test. 3) I did not live and breathe orgo. I did not go out and get extra practice problems. I did not go to Cornish/TA's office hours religiously. I just did the homework and worked to understand the basic concepts. I never got out of the standard deviation on any of the midterms (can't speak about the final because I haven't seen it yet), and I got an A in the class (and I'm typically a B+/A- science person). If I can do it, so can you!
"Maybe Cornish isn't for you if you are incapable of independently pursuing information" - from a previous reviewer. Smug B.S. with a capital B and a capital S. Many of my study partners and I spent dozens of hours independently pursuing information, beyond the given problems. We hit other textbooks, problems online, and begged the TAs for extra practice. All this did little if anything to improve our grades in this class. I love organic chemistry, know the material inside-out, and am utterly devastated by my final grade in this class. have no idea how they computed it, given my test scores. The bottom line, for which there is no excuse, is that students who know their stuff often come out of Cornish's class with poor marks, and those who don't, with good ones. I have no idea why this is so. Maybe it's because her tests aren't comprehensive. Maybe there was a network of cheaters my semester. I have actually quite a good bit of evidence that there was subjective grading on the part of the TAs, who intentionally marked up students they liked and marked down students they didn't. Whatever it was, standard deviations of 20 POINTS on exams indicate something is very messed up with the way this class evaluates its students. It seems to have little to do with your knowledge of chemistry, and more to do with personal factors -- your biography, your personality, and so forth. And all this is consistent with Cornish's own biases, about New York versus Georgia, about men versus women in science, about people who have "integrity" versus those who don't (as if she's God and can possibly judge that) (yes, I'm quoting directly from her lecture). Cornish is a great researcher with million-dollar grants, and she says sweet things from time to time, but she does NOT TEACH. Not answering emails = NOT TEACHING. Leaving office hours early to take phone calls = NOT TEACHING. Making you wait on line at office hours only to turn you away because she spent so much time with others = NOT TEACHING. Spending huge amounts of time in lectures erasing the blackboard and writing stuff in chalk that could be flashed in one second on a powerpoint slide = NOT TEACHING. Devoting an entire lecture to her own research when we're all struggling with the basics before the final exam = NOT REALLY TEACHING. Sometime she talks a little bit about organic chemistry, like if you actually get to speak to her during office hours, and sometimes she'll say this and that in lecture, but at the $4000 tuition which we're paying (which she pointed out in class) we deserve just a bit more. $4000 times what, 100 kids in the class = $4,000,000 revenue for this class. Surely you could provide a bit more support for FOUR MILLION DOLLARS. I ended up with Cornish because I literally couldn't get a space in any other orgo class. DEAR CHEMISTRY DEPARMENT: GET A DIFFERENT ORGO 1 PROFESSOR.
If the gods of scheduling so allow you, take Campos for Organic Chemistry. Unlike many of his colleagues, he cares. He wants you to know and master this material, as opposed to screwing you over. Sure, itâ€™s hard. Of course itâ€™s hard â€“ itâ€™s a brand new way of thinking, and in the same way you learned to read and do your multiplication tables, youâ€™re going to have to learn how to push electrons and predict syntheses. But Campos and his TAâ€™s will work their rear ends off to help you as much as you can, and I for one think they did an amazing job. Some of his exam questions and GWâ€™s (see below) will make you feel like heâ€™s trying to mess with you. Unlike in Cornishâ€™s exam questions though, which test you over material you have yet to learn, you have all the knowledge you need in your hands to find the right answer. Usually, these questions require you to combine ideas that you have learned across multiple lectures â€“ what is pushing an arrow really, in terms of the molecular orbital theory? (Theyâ€™ll drive you nuts.) But at the end of the day, youâ€™ll either find the answer to your problem or smack yourself when you see the key, because really, you know all this, you just didnâ€™t connect it in your head in the exam room. Campos himself is incredibly approachable, and is always willing to answer any questions you have â€“ no matter how complex or simple â€“ in office hours. He respects both your intellect and struggle, and never seems supercilious. Office hours are run in a sort of group setting, in which you can listen to your classmatesâ€™ questions and Camposâ€™s answers. Chances are, they have many of the same questions you do. Each TA has his (or her, but we didnâ€™t have any females my year) style of teaching. All three that he hires, though, will work pretty hard to make sure get this class. In addition to answering your questions promptly via email, theyâ€™ll also share their worksheets and quizzes together as one big packet before every exam. This â€œTA packet,â€ if you will, gives you all sorts of different problems from the various TAâ€™s and makes you approach each topic from all three of the TAâ€™s styles. Itâ€™s pretty handy. The TAâ€™s will also do some pretty cool things for you, like let their office hours run an hour over before some exams. Show up to class. He posts his notes online, but theyâ€™re no substitute for his teaching. Of course, if you fall ill/have some other pressing concern, those notes are lifesavers. He tries to experiment a little every year to improve his teaching â€“ this experimentation includes some new ways of explaining concepts, making Working on Worksheets with your neighbors packets, having students model reactions with costumes and cardboard signs, and â€œscaffoldingâ€ â€“ using the answer of one exam question to help you answer the next. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnâ€™t, but his experimentation breaks up the blackboard monotony. Group Worksheets, or GWâ€™s, are take home quizzes you do with a group. You can use your notes or textbook, but you canâ€™t consult students not in your group or the internet (honor system). Theyâ€™re ridiculously hard, and will, like I said before, drive you nuts. (â€œItâ€™ll take you 45 minutes.â€ Yeah right. ) Still, they prepare you pretty well for the exam, and force you to struggle together. Take a deep breath, make flashcards of your reactions, and try to keep up. Youâ€™re going to be alright. You might even enjoy yourself a bit.
Tristan is fab. No matter who you take Orgo with, let's face it, it's going to suck. It's a hard subject and a hard course, and no teacher is going to detract from that. That being said, Tristan has been doing this for a while, and he has refined his style and his course to make it as painless as possible, even - dare I say it - kinda sorta (sadistically) fun. Tristan cautions that he will openly laugh at you if you call him "Professor Lambert." He is friendly and helpful, and holds office hours regularly. He genuinely wants everyone to do well. He knows the subject sucks, he acknowledges this, and he does throw in a good joke here and there, generally keeping the class light, to try to relieve one's inevitable mid-orgo depression. He posts meticulous lecture notes that he follows to a tee in class, which not only are a perfect resource for studying/knowing what's on an exam, but which make note taking in class a breeze - I just printed out and annotated his own notes, and was able to actually listen to what he was saying as opposed to missing key points while frantically scribbling down molecules. If you prefer to take your own notes from scratch though, he writes everything down on the chalkboard in an easy-to-follow, progressive manner. His content layout is organized and straightforward, sensible to the student who's glanced at the notes beforehand and can see where he's going. The book matches what he says, but he doesn't go directly by it, which is a plus really since it can give you an independent second perspective on a topic that may seem confusing. So anyway. Take Orgo with Tristan. He'll make it better, I swear.
I left this class with mixed feelings. Professor Campos, while funny and charming, has a teaching style that feels disorganized at times. He makes all of his lecture notes available online, but these notes are scratched out in his handwriting and often unclear. I found it frustrating that he would make mention of things in his notes that were not mentioned at all in McMurry until several chapters later. As a student, I often felt like I had to work incredibly hard just to make sense of the material, especially after the first half of the semester, when the material got more difficult. All of this being said, I did well in the class, and think that it's possible to get an A/A- if you do McMurry problems with regularity and seek out additional problem sets from other sections. A word of caution: the TAs for this particular semester were quite a mixed bag. Some were helpful, responsive, eager to teach, while others were frequently late to section, unresponsive, and unhelpful. If possible, go to a few different sections before settling on one.
Really friendly guy, seems nice... but those tests are not pretty. His tests are insanely difficult, even though the first one and the final exam weren't too bad. The problems he gives you are not enough, McMurray pales in comparison to his exam questions. Some of the TAs were helpful, others no. You need to fend for yourself in this class because Campos does not provide you with the basic grounding that you need in OChem.
I agree with the reviewers before that Tristan has very clear notes depicting every single mechanism. However, it is true that he does not really prepare us for exams. He lectures on the mechanisms but never actually connects each mechanisms to likely exam problems, so for me at least, it was difficult to apply what we learned in class to the exams. He presented the mechanisms and explained them but then we were left to figure out how to apply mechanisms to an actual question. I was also disappointed when I was having trouble in the class and emailed him asking to meet with me so we could figure out what was going wrong in the course. He never responded and I was sort of shocked since he always said he is really sympathetic to students who are trying, etc etc. He responded very quickly to other emails I sent regarding just logistical things but never that. I am not sure what happened. Again when I emailed him saying I may drop from the course and needed help, he didn't say anything. Lambert is probably the best option in terms of the orgo professors and I am not saying he is a bad professor or a bad person. He is very funny in class and it was enjoyable going to lecture. I just think for me personally, I needed more than just presenting material and moving on. I needed someone who would connect ideas to the bigger picture i.e. more difficult reactions. That's just my 2 cents.
My advice is get out of this class while you can. While I think Doubleday truly means well, I think he is one of the worst professors I had while at Columbia. He is a terribly disorganized lecturer, and I had a hard time following even the first lecture, which was all review. Imagine how hard it was to understand him come the more complicated, new material. Fortunately, Doubleday teaches by the book, so McMurry is enough to know the material on the exams. However, since the exams are quite difficult, it takes a lot of reading and re-reading McMurry to do well. I thought this class was quite unfair, because it met at night, and thus had quite a lot of post-bacs. These postbacs were clearly on top of their material as they put a lot of time and effort in this class. For an undergrad like me who was taking 5 other classes and had 2 jobs, it was very hard to keep up. Although that would be a problem for orgo in general, I would really stay away from this class, as it is all about self-teaching. If you do end up taking this class, make sure you do really well on the first midterm. If you don't, it will be nearly impossible to do well in the end! (For grading guidelines, see the other reviews)
Lambert is a very nice and available professor. He also holds office hours which is another mini classroom session. He is brilliant and a good lecturer. However, when it comes to feeling prepared for exams I'd have to rate him very low. I personally need more than just a professor with a good personality and who is available- I need a professor who prepares me well for exams and gives me a good idea what to expect. I understand that this was his first time teaching organic chemistry I, but I had to literally dig for practice problems from other professors teaching orgo I to feel prepared for his exams. I think that as he teaches more Organic Chem I classes, he will have more problem sets and practice tests to give students. Also, doing the McMurry problems and knowing how to do all of the textbook problems will not guarantee success in his class. He does not teach out of the textbook and his exam problems are MUCH more involved than any textbook problem. I'd recommend taking him in 2 or three years once he has more materials and problem sets to give out. His synthesis was challenging but doable. However, I personally his predicting the products and mechanism questions were the hardest- watch out for those. Recitation quizzes are easy but misleading. His tests are 4X harder than any quiz
Not only a good lecturer, but accessible and friendly. He posts all of the lecture notes online, which is really helpful for studying. When I took Gen Chem I never went to lecture because I never learned anything and found it useless. I went to every lecture for this class because Prof Campos actually helped me better understand what I'd read about in the textbook. He even manages to make us laugh during lecture, most days.
I was lucky enough to have Tristan as my professor. He taught orgo in a way that made me actually want to go to class (whereas with physics, I had to fight myself to go). His notes are incredibly clear, his explanations all make sense, and he is more than willing to take questions. He also holds a number of office hours, and is very sympathetic towards students making an effort. He says at the beginning of the course that he wants everyone to do well, and he makes an honest effort to help people out by giving plenty of study material and exams that are very similar to the practice tests. The 1st midterm was a joke, the next 2 midterms were challenging, and the final was cumulative but way more straight forward. The grading is superfair- 91% of the grade can be made up of the four tests each worth around 22.5%, with the final 9% made up of recitation quizzes, or the best 3 grades worth about 30% and the recitation quizzes worth 9%. It's nice to go into a final knowing that it isn't 40% of your grade like other science classes, but instead is worth as much as a midterm. Bottom line, take orgo with Lambert. Honestly, the subject is tough, but as a Pre-Med you have to take it anyway. He makes it as painless as possible, and is an all around great guy. He is pretty funny too, I'd party with him.
Wow do not take Organic Chemistry with Turro. Not only is it in that stupid Havemeyer classroom with terrible echoing, but Turro literally mumbles like his mouth is full of peanut butter and marshmallows. That, on top of his muffled, staticky microphone, pretty much meant I could not understand a single sentence he said. I stopped going to class after the first week, and only came to take the exams. Luckily the required recitation section taught me what I needed to know for the quizzes, midterms, and final. The class starts out incredibly easy, the first two midterms had averages in the 90s. But it picked up pace and the third and fourth midterm averages were in the 70s. It was nice to have so many midterms, because by the time the cumulative final came up, I literally studied for one hour and then went off to take it. Try to take orgo with a different professor if you can. But if you insist on taking Turro, be prepared to learn everything in recitation and by yourself.
There were several concepts Cornish lovesss to test that are NOT assigned as homework from the textbook. I studied the textbook in and out for every exam and averaged 73 on the four midterms. I think the averages this semester were: 77, 60, 53, 60. I think she curved this semester to a B+. Pretty nice, I think. Anyway, the McMuccy textbook (which is very good and necessary to get at least the mean) is definitely not enough to get your solid A for this class. Go to class, pay attention, take detailed notes (especially when she explains WHY certain things are they way they are--which she MIGHT explain very briefly), go to TA office hours to solidly understand concepts she discusses in class but are not in the textbook. If she talks about something in class that you don't fully get, make a note of it and ask in office hours. I've never been to Cornish's office hours, but the TAs this semester were definitely very helpful. It is really important to understand these big concepts in the beginning of the semester, because they will probably be on most or all of the exams. Thermodynamics especially. Expect to draw free energy diagrams to explain things on every single exam. She also loves to ask you to explain the acidity/basicity of a molecule or compare the acidity/basicity of different molecules, using resonance and free energy diagrams support your argument. I had Christine as a TA this semester and she was excellent at explaining this. On the first exam, Cornish asked us to draw a molecule in 3D and label the hybridization of the atoms in a molecule, which, from gen chem, I thought was a piece of cake. But depending on the resonance forms of a molecule, an atom can have a different hybridization. You need to look at the lone pairs and consider their geometry and the resonance forms of the molecule.. which lone pairs are in the pi system of the molecule, and which are not? Which pi orbitals are interacting with eachother? and blahblahblah. When I was studying for the final, a TA pointed out that there were pictures/explanations for this in the SECOND HALF of the textbook. I don't know why weren't informed about this BEFORE we were given the question on the FIRST exam. I was completely unprepared for that. I think that question was like 20 points or something.. Cornish wants to make sure that you're not just memorizing facts, but that you're able to look at something and give a supported argument for WHY something is true. In that way, she's really testing your understanding of the material. It's not easy, but with enough question-asking (i.e. time spent with TA's), it's possible... I just wish I had done that earlier in the semester. Unfortunately, she doesn't do a very thorough job explaining these concepts in class, so it's pretty understandable that most of the class just doesn't know. When you're studying for your test and you see something in your notes you don't quite understand, don't just gloss over it! When you get your midterms back, be sure look at them very carefully and go to office hours to understand why you got certain questions wrong, especially if they're the big-concept questions in the second half of the exams. Don't just brush them off because you're likely to see it again on the next exam and you'll most probably see it on the final. Be able to reason out and explain the pKa values of the different molecules. Explain why different molecules have higher/lower pKa values, which, in turn, affect their acidity and basicity.... Good luck.
How in the world did this guy get the teaching award in the past? He can't teach for life and his powerpoint slides are filled with useless material about chemistry jock and paradigms - seriously, how are these related with learning the language of orgo? Instead of explaining reactions and going over important topics like R&S configuration in stereochemistry and mass spectrometry, he spends more time blabbering and going on massive tangents about how he worked for almost all the scientists we learned about in the McMurry text (which is a pretty bad book in the first place). This class was a huge drain of my time and energy, for I learned very little about organic chemistry-> bodes well for next semester. In the beginning, Turro seemed to be a decent lecturer, going over the first few "easy" chapters PROPERLY, but when we got to IR, it seems like the demons got him. His lecturing skills degenerated more and more as the semester progressed, becoming so incomprehensible and incoherent to the point that I wished I had taken Cornish. I had to consult extra sources to even get the concepts straight, which can be avoided if the professor is at least okay. Now the grading - absolutely evil. NO NO NO CURVE!!! I hope I don't have to reiterate it. Initially, a curve was not needed given the ease of the first two midterms, which grabbed a bunch of ques. from the practice problems, but after (and including) the NMR test, boy did the exams become a nightmare. They became so long that they were a rushing contest, to see who can write and work the fastest and not who has the best brains and can think critically enough. To add to the pain and pressure, we were videotaped while taking the examinations (imagine?). The quizzes were also quite unbearable, but at least they were normalized based on a particular TA. In conclusion, I am glad I am done with Turro, for eternity.
Looks like Doubleday hasn't had a new review since '06, which is probably because nothing has changed in the last four years. He is about as straightforward a professor as you can get, which is great if you're a person who likes to have the option of learning from either the book (McMurry) or the lectures, or to have them reinforce each other. He did teach a couple of things that weren't in the text, but prefaced them by saying they wouldn't be on the exam since they weren't in the book (at which point everybody would temporarily check out). I personally liked him a great deal, I thought he did an excellent job of teaching organic chemistry, a subject which I found to be fascinating. The reviewer below me noted that he doesn't curve individual exams, but rather drops your lowest of six exams (three single exams and one final that counts as three). Doubleday said that in the last year he rearranged the exam material to be more fair (medians were 86, 82, 82). The exams are pretty straightforward and similar to both the McMurry problems and the problems from last years' exams, which he makes available with answers. You can also bring a model kit into the exams, which is extremely helpful. I've heard he is always available for help in office hours although I did not take advantage of this.
If you are reading this review in advance of program filing and are considering taking Cornish- run. If you are reading this during shopping week- SPRINT. and if you are reading this and you're already in the class, then god help you, you will understand every word of this. Everything that is wrong with this class: 1) completely arbitrary and absurd, random, picky grading 2) empty lectures 3) memorizing the textbook is barely sufficient to get a 60 on each midterm 4) she will not help you if you don't understand 5) she pretends to care when she actually couldn't care less 6) extremely long homework sets that do not reflect the exam material in any way shape or form. 7) you won't be able to break a 85 unless you have taken orgo. 8) last question is always 20-30 points and you cannot get it right unless you know or magically have advanced chemistry revelations. 9) the entire class is about general chemistry, specifically thermodynamics, NOT to be confused with orgo. 10) this class will rob you of your sanity and mental peace. 11) if you think you are immune to failure, you will deeply reconsider. Where to begin, so first day you get to lecture and the only thing that is written on the board is CARBON- 4 VALENCE in kindergarten teacher's print, and you think, what could possibly be so bad about this? Cornish seems very sweet, very approachable and totally easy- IT IS A TRAP. This behavior continues approximately until the drop deadline and you are stuck in what rapidly becomes a vicious nightmare. Cornish's lectures COULD NOT be more empty if she tried, in fact, she probably purposefully plans them to make 0 sense and makes sure they cover abut 1/6000th of what you are expected to know to even crack a 25 on the exam and yes, according to Cornish, a 25 is a VERY good score, it means you "are really understanding the material" Come to think of it, there were multiple 0's, 1's, 15's and 18's in the pile of exams and yes, these people did write and did not leave the exams blank. If you are missing one detail that she wants, a minimum of 5 points will be deducted from your exam (and she will not tell you why). This wouldn't be such a big deal if the last question wasn't made (as she admits deliberately) to be impossible and scare you and oh yeah worth 30 points. But according to Cornish, "you can still do extremelyyyy well if you do not even touch the last question" ohhhkay Cornish, in what alternative universe is starting at a 70 doing extremely well? The standard deviation of the exams is always near a 20 and the mean generally between 55-60 (gee that seems very normal for a Columbia class of orgo students, right?). By the way, don't ever write your work on your paper because according to Cornish it puts the graders in a very difficult position, "As you can imagine" in which they MUST take off points for incorrect work. Also, this is not the kind of class where you can be failing and go to the professor for help, on multiple occasions, I witnessed one person having trouble, crying to the professor and simply being brushed off. Another extremely frustrating part of this class is that Cornish hands out her own "special" problem sets and refuses to give answers for them. What's funny is that the TA's don't even understand what she is doing giving out such advanced problems, nor do they know how to readily answer them. Sometimes, at review sessions the TA's would take up to 20 minutes to be able to formulate the words to explain solutions to these problems (mind you these are organic chemistry experts). Perhaps the most ridiculous part of this class is that when you leave, you won't even have a sense of fulfillment in organic chemistry, no no, but rather, you will be a master of pka values, acid base reactions and an artist of free energy diagrams as you will have to draw them at least twice on every single test. If you are planning to take this class, start practicing your drawings now! For me, the worst part of this entire experience was Cornish's obsession with standing in front of the class for 15 minutes, just about every single class, talking about how smart everyone is, how hard everyone works and how she is positive that everyone is doing so well. If she spent half as much time teaching as she does fake prep talking, the class would be a lot smarter. She especially enjoys reiterating this after she writes the mean of 50 on the board before she returns the exams. Honestly, if someone is going to be evil, they should do it openly instead of trying to hide it constantly under a painfully robotic and fake smile. She is truly a coward when it comes to owning up her evil. I did extremely well in this class and I still feel the need for anyone who is even considering taking orgo I with Cornish to know how awful this course is. I wish I had believed these reviews- there is no one who is too smart to get penalized by her exams. There is a reason why 50 people agree with each bad review. Consider yourself warned. Drop the class. If you are in it before drop period is over, leave. If you need to take orgo this semester and she is the only choice you have, you're better off never taking it at all. Don't do it.
I went into this class already knowing alot of organic chemistry. This class was painful. Cornish goes painfully slow in her class. She spends like 4 lectures on naming and drawing line structures. Then you decide this is going to be easy. You take a look at the previous year's test, and the 20 point problem is on a subject that you only did one class problem on, and no assigned reading or problems. Every test is like that. You can make no assumptions on the importance of the material based on the assignments or how much time she spends teaching it. I had Christine as a TA, and she was amazing. She also made it clear of the insanity of Cornish. There were days she would say that she hadn't learned that type of problem until grad school. Cornish likes to think she's nice and organized during lecture, by writing every single word. She'll say "consider the following reaction" and surely enough, she'll begin to write ' Consider the following reaction'. Sounds silly to complain about, but for every problem of the class, that adds up. Many she could use the time on the things she thinks matter.
AHHHHHH! Don't take this class! It was a roller coaster ride of horror. The first half of the semester was a complete joke; we covered like 2-3 easy chapters a month, skipping all kinds of sections and important material within the chapters that 99% of organic chemistry classes cover (acids/bases, MO Theory, RS Naming, mass spec). At one point, he even said that he just wants to take his time, so he wouldn't race to cover material we don't get to and outlined the rest of the semester to include his prior orgo syllabus without chapters 10 & 11 (organohalides and synthesis/elimination reactions). Then, Turro had an epiphany once everyone gave him bad reviews on the surveys, and he decided to make the class harder. His logic was apparently that since everyone finished the first two tests 10-20 minutes early, he would double the length of the third test. Obviously everyone raced to finish NMR questions that were now harder than Cornish's and most still failed to do so. By this point, we had 3 weeks left of class, and had learned a grand total of 1 reaction, but Turro then decided that he would complete his full syllabus after all! We again raced through 4 chapters of reactions without learning much logic at all behind them and were given a fourth midterm on more material then the other 3 midterms combined. For some reason, it was surprising to Turro that we proceeded to do badly, so his "final review" consisted of him throwing test questions from the fourth midterm on the projector screen and asking us "Is this a fair question?! Why didn't you get it right?!" Although the published averages for the tests were 84,88,74,and 74, few people know that the exam 4 average was actually 64 and that Turro threw out data points below 50 "because those people don't care about the course." Still, this wouldn't be so bad if the class wasn't COMPLETELY UNCURVED aside from dropping 2 equivalents out of each of the four midterms, recitation quizzes, and the final (which is two). Thus, 90% of the class will end up dropping midterms 3 & 4 regardless of how they did compared to the mean since whoever is running this course is too stupid to realize that the exams should be adjusted (up or down) to have averages that are the same if you are going to allow people to drop tests. As it stands, I might as well not have even taken the fourth midterm even though I scored 20 points above the (real) average. Also, note that the course is effectively ran by Judy, a grad student in Turro's lab who sent us 75 broadcasts and counting throughout the semester by email. Getting twice daily emails from her was delightful, but I feel like my other classes distribute the same amount of information to me without needing to do so. Also, all of my emails to Turro were redirected to her, and all the other TAs claim to know nothing about what will be covered in the course, how the test will be formatted, etc. except her. This wouldn't be so bad if she wasn't incredibly ambiguous. If you ask her if you can take a midterm early, she says, "See the course page" rather than "no". If you ask if we have to know the precise solvents for all 100 reactions we learned in 3 weeks, she'll say "was in the book, lecture, and/or recitation? If not, you probably don't need to know them, but if so, it's fair game." Just say yes; why do you have to make your responses into riddles? But yeah, I think that about covers it. Maybe Turro will figure out what to do next year, but right now, I feel like I learned less than the other classes but had just as much work, except it was all crammed into the end of the semester when I was busiest. Also, I pretty much learned everything on my own because Turro just throws figures up from our textbook into his slideshow. I kind of felt bad that attendance at lectures plummeted by the end of the semester, and no one could even answer his easy in-class questions about the reactions on the previous slide because the people who showed up weren't really listening. On the positive, he showed up a funny chemistry jock video on the first and last day of class, which was really funny! But since you can find that on your own, take Cornish or Doubleday; don't do this to yourself!
Organic Chemistry I Overall a good teacher. He tries REALLY HARD, he's very patient and pretty thorough for 66% of the material. The last third of the material becomes really rushed, and to make things worse, it is the hardest material of all. The biggest downside is that, because he is so dedicated and friendly, waaay too many people take his class. This means that you will have a ton of super-stiff competition. Tons of pre-meds take this class, which means that they go to every office hour and study endlessly. This subsequently reduces the curve to essentially zero. Recitations are easy, and this helps your grade a little in the end. The "practice tests" he gives out are overly simplistic and can be very misleading. They often lull you in to a false sense of security for the exam. Problem sets are plentiful, but overall helpful in reinforcing the material. ALSO: my biggest gripe with him was this blatant lie he told us early in the semester. He said that organic chemistry is not about memorization. This is false. For the second and third exam, 95% of the material is just memorizing approximately 45-60 reactions and their mechanisms, electron-by-electron. This is quite annoying. Then on the final, you have to use each and all of these reactions as interchangeable tools in creating new compounds.
I don't think Sames is the best professor in the world, but he's certainly not the worst. His lectures can be a bit disorganized, especially since he likes going off on tangents about his favorite molecules and mechanisms. Usually, only a very, very tiny aspect of those complex mechanisms is actually relevant to what you're learning. This tendency would be endearing if it weren't for the fact that at other times, he moves very quickly through the concepts, almost giving you no time to absorb the material. We ended up skipping an entire chapter this semester, and I think it must have had to do with his poor planning. However, he's pretty nice in person and is always willing to answer questions before and after class. I did get the impression, though, that he didn't care much for teaching. He occasionally cancelled his office hours without any notice (even if the exam was the next day), and one of the TAs had to fill in for him a couple of times this semester. His exams are very fair. There are some tricky problems here and there, but if you do the book problems and the problem sets, you should be fine. He sometimes gets lazy with his test problems and uses problems lifted from the book (with only very minor variations). On this semester's final, he reused an entire problem from one of the earlier practice exams. On the whole, I think Sames is as easy as orgo gets.
I found him to be a poor lecturer who was sometimes difficult to follow. Random tangents and disorganized. I stopped going to class, which was apparently a poor decision, the exams go far beyond the book, I basically memorized the chapters and was still screwed because there would be these random things he expected us to know. The TAs frequently uttered things like "Dali wants you to know this, although I don't know why." or "This wasn't in class or the book but Dali for some reason thinks you should know it." The practice exams and problem sets are more useful than the text, but the answer keys they give us rarely have good explanations (or any!). I found myself having to Wikipedia extensively.
Professor Cornish is not a bad instructor, but then again, 98% of the material is best learned for the textbook. McMurry's textbook is the holy bible when it comes to orgo one - combine with Organic Chemistry as a Second Language and there is no need to actually listen to what Cornish says. Her exams are not at all hard if you understand the material and have memorized and understood the reactions. Cornish loves thermodynamics so be sure to understand the equations and energy graphs and memorize the energies that she tells you to. Now, grading is a whole different story. It sucks. Everyone i know who took her class was absolutely raving mad when they got their grade. The curve was probably to a B-/C+. She spent five minutes every class going on about how if you want that A+, you should be ready for the last question on the exam, but you can do well without even looking at it. Bullshit. Save yourself the agony. Take Doubleday. The material is the same no matter who teaches it. It's all in the textbook.
She is awful. The only thing I got from her class was increased drive to do better second semester. McMurry problems are definitely way too easy for her exams; I still have no idea how to to do well on her tests (2/3 straightforward information, 1/3 tricky deceptive problem-solving - she curves the 2/3, meaning 66 on an exam or class avg, to a B; I asked) even after acing second semester organic chemistry. The only thing I can suggest is that you read the textbook, do all her problems (to which, it is true, she doesn't provide answer keys), buy some supplemental prep books (I've head Organic Chemistry as a Second Language is extremely useful), and pray that you understand the trick she decides to test. She goes over some of the basic rxns in class and expects you to know when and how to use which one, despite never having taught you any of that information. She doesn't explain any of the tables or graphs she puts on the board, or why they're important, and then subsequently expects you to draw a derivation of it in a different situation for the exam. All in all, this was a fail class.
I love Professor Merrer. If you're debating between taking Chemistry at Columbia or Barnard and Merrer is teaching, take it at Barnard no question asked. Merrer is a fantastic teacher. She presents the material very clearly and the way she writes her notes on the board make it impossible for you not to be able to take good notes if you write down everything she does. The big complaint everyone has about Orgo is that it's all memorization and that it's hard. I'm not going to say this class isn't hard but Merrer makes Orgo make sense. It's not about memorizing every reaction in her class because if you learn the material the way she presents it, you won't have a hard time remembering everything. I understand it's not always easy to understand what's going on in class but office hours are really helpful and you can always find at least one time slot that fits in your schedule. One thing about Merrer that I love is that she really understands what you're trying to ask when you ask a question and she'll rephrase to say it better than you did originally and to make sure the rest of the class isn't confused. Overall I think she's a brilliant woman and a fantastic teacher. I know some people say she's a little cold, or whatever the complaint is. But she's not if you make an effort in class. You just have to realize that she has a sarcastic sense of humor and it's not that she doesn't like you, it's just that's the way she is. If you catch her sarcastic remarks they're hysterical. Just don't get turned off too quickly. She also makes an incredible effort to learn everybody's name which is amazing of her. Basically take any class Merrer teaches.
Before I begin the review, you should know that I took Organic Chemistry before entering Prof. Cornish's class, which really did take a lot of pressure off the details. So, I think I should begin in saying that I understanding basically everyone's opinion of Cornish so far on CULPA. Pretty much all is valid, but there are a few things I wanted to explain to people who may take her in the future. Firstly, Cornish is tough, but she curves relatively leniently. So getting in the 80s-90s basically translates into a solid A. I think the mean (usually in the 60s) was around a B+. It takes some major screwing up (SD below the mean at least) to get into the C range. So at least know that everyone struggles in the class, and it's not your responsibility to know every single detail. Heck, I got a 63 on one test, and ended up with an A. However, and this is a big however, leaving stones unturned in organic chemistry is a recipe for failure, especially in Cornish's class. Everyone understands the simple reactions (SN1, SN2 etc.), but what really separates people is their ability to apply those reactions on a much grander scale. And yes, Cornish can take the "grand scale" to a whole new level. So, you may know the basic reactions, but still get absolutely NO POINTS on an exam if you are unable to apply those reactions. It's really unfortunate, but again, realize that most people struggle, so there is plenty of hope. Secondly, I would like to emphasize the importance of the textbook. Cornish's notes are extremely important, sure, but the textbook is where the true understanding develops. Typically, she will ask little tricks that come out of her notes. But even so, reading the textbook well in advance really helps in terms of understanding things like radical reactions (which she adores, but hardly explains in class). There are very few questions she asks that are beyond the scope of the textbook. Of course, she will throw in some insane (sometimes literally impossible) problems that no one gets right. But...no one gets them right, so it really has no affect on your grade. I think people should realize this before getting really angry. And finally, will someone please tell her to erase the board more clearly? It is probably the most annoying thing in the world...everyone reads about it on CULPA, but no one asks. So to conclude, Cornish is not really someone to avoid, unless you really don't care about Orgo. If you are a pre-med, take Cornish. She isn't hard enough to really screw up your grades, and she is qualified enough to really help you understand the concepts (good for MCAT).
Professor Sames is truly great. He doesnâ€™t want to screw anyone over and is very generous with grading. As long as you read every chapter and do all the problem sets you shouldnâ€™t have much trouble getting an A. Some reviewers mentioned studying from notes. I almost never studied from class notes and preparedly almost completely from the book and TA review notes. He does mention some small details that are not in the book every now and then which might show up on exams so if you have the time go to class and pay attention. I came to this class with extreme fear of orgo but left it feeling like I was an orgo whiz. The horror stories you hear arenâ€™t true with Sames. Just read the book and do the problems completely (This is the only way to learn the material, you must read the book and do all the problems inside and at the end of each chapter). Do a comprehensive review before each exam and you should be fine.
Prof. Rojas is, hands down, the best science teacher I had at Barnard/Columbia for the reasons that every other reviewer has already noted. Even compared to humanities classes (I was a humanities major), I think this class was extremely well taught and helped you appreciate orgo (somehow). That said, it's no walk in the park, but what I do appreciate about this class is that the resources he gives you entitles everyone an equal chance to do well. Here are the rules: 1. Attend every lecture and recitation session, no exceptions. If you miss a lecture (bc of an emergency) get the notes immediately, go over them and make sure you get caught up. 2. Do the problem sets before the recitation. 3. Go to at least 1 or 2 office hour sessions a week. He holds one almost everyday, there really is no excuse to not attend. Also, if you can't make any of them, he'll meet with you on your own. Don't be intimidated by his cultish followers, who try to hog up all the time asking questions. Be bold and ask yours too. 4. Study for the tests at least 2 weeks ahead in advance. He tests understanding, not how well you can memorize. 5. Form a study group, with smart, kind-hearted folks. Although, this is not absolutely necessary, it definitely helps and, if nothing else, when everyone else is partying on the Thursday night before an orgo exam, you don't have to be cooped up all alone and scared in butler. 6. SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE TESTS - I can't say this enough. The test requires critical thinking. You need to be human (not half man half red bull) when you take it. Lastly, 7. Don't get sick. I know this sounds stupid, but I really mean it. Take your vitamin C pills, flu shot, cut off coughing friends, etc. Take care of your body and sleep because getting sick can absolutely hurt your chances of doing well in this class. Ok, well that was longer than I intended, but I sincerely hope this info helps you. And I also think you should consider capping the number of credits you take to 15 during these semesters.
I say take it definitely. Yes, at times he does give some random examples or go off on tangents but thats only because he's really engaged in the subject and is trying to get the class to be too. If you do the problemsets and problems in the book, you will have no problem.
Cornish is by far the best chemistry teacher I have ever had. She will teach you orgo. You will learn, you will understand, and you will be prepared for second semester. She is clear, and she is by far the most organized science teacher I have ever seen. (She actually followed her syllabus, and did not get behind at all.) Because she is so organized, she actually slows down the pace of her teaching near the end of the semester, which is great because every other science class is speeding up like crazy then to fit everything in, so you at least get a break from her. Yeah, so the second half of her tests are hard. But when you realize that she curves pretty decently, then you realize that the last question on her tests, though impossible, is essentially extra credit. If you are willing to put in the time, get a model set, read the text book, do all of her problem sets, and make flashcards, you will do well. And it is totally crucial to learn orgo properly first semester, because if you don't, you wont have a prayer second semester. Also, once you have made the right decision and chosen Cornish, keep in mind that though she will tell you that you need to be on top of the material all the time, and should make flashcards about a set of reactions the second that you learn them, and such... this is simply not true. You can always take a week off after one of her midterms. Yes, it does take time for these concepts to settle in, but you will have time. You don't need go crazy about it. Especially since she has a very generous drop policy --you can drop 2 out of the 4 midterms-- if you don't fully understand it by one exam, you can figure it out by the next and be all right.
People - she really is NOT THAT bad (personally I thought she was amazing). If you enter her class with the mindset that you will fail miserably and that you've heard rumors about how she's pure evil, well yes...you'll do horrible. BUT if you appreciate the way in which she teaches and really fill in the gaps by reading the textbook, etc. - you'll do fine, trust me. Here are my suggestions/comments: 1. Know Cornish's test format - they are always the same. Knowing the format will definitely ease some of the tension while taking her exams. Her exams ALWAYS have one very difficult question that seems like it cannot be answered from the material that you know. But once you master the basic material, study and predict what you think she could ask and you won't be surprised when you find yourself getting that last question correct. 2. I agree that Cornish is a horrible lecturer, and that it's best that you sit in front because she does not erase the chalkboard clearly, talks softly at times, etc. But given these criticisms, she organizes and structures the course very well. She teaches Orgo I in a logical manner so that it all makes sense after a while (i.e., she does not go by the book, but teaches the concepts in what I think is the most effective order) This may be hard to appreciate during the course, but if you talk to students who have different professors, they will complain about how its hard to understand some reactions - a complaint that you probably will never experience in Cornish's class. That is, whatever she teaches - she does her best to make sure that you UNDERSTAND the material. 3. The key to doing well in her class is now to take what you understand and know all the TRICKS! There are many exceptions in organic chemistry and knowing these is just as important and this is what Cornish loves to test! (ex: Grignard will not occur w/ F, intramolecular reactions, ring stability, etc. You'll find these on her previous exams and lecture problem sessions) 4. Always be ahead of what she teaches. This is VITAL. Read the chapter(s) in the textbook before she actually goes over it in class. I found that this really helped because I never felt lost or frustrated when she lectured. 5. Cornish LOVES energy diagrams - expect atleast 1 question on every exam involving energy diagrams, stability, or pKa's. So, if you're the type of student who can sit through a well organized but perhaps poorly given lecture and likes to read the textbook and also appreciates dry humor, well take Cornish. Yes, her exams are 4/5 fair and 1/5 incredibly difficult. In other words, 80% is doable with what you know and that last 20% is where learning the tricks and predicting the types of questions beforehand really help. But if you're the type of student who wants a good lecturer even if the material is not structured in the best way and will get frustrated that you are in Cornish's class without even giving her a chance to prove to you that she's a brilliant professor, then yea...don't take her.
I thought Professor Nuckolls was a great teacher, but I know many people who didn't agree. I think the things that students should know going into his class are as follows: 1. his lectures are pretty fast-paced but very, very clear and logical; yes, it does help to have glanced over the chapter beforehand, but I never did and still was able to follow along. I think most people miss important points because they stop listening briefly and because it's hard to emphasize them when there are so many. The key is to not let yourself zone out, and if you actually listen to what he says, it's easy to get interested in the material because he presents it very well 2. his midterm exams are fair but quite long; i think that just like most people would be able to follow along if he went just a BIT slower in lecture, most people would do very well if he cut out about one and half questions from the exam. i would say that what makes the exams difficult is how quickly you have to think to get through the entire test without making mistakes, not how difficult each question is; i often found that if i needed to sit and work through one problem slowly, another problem would be sacrificed that being said, the TAs are pretty generous when it comes to grading 3. GO TO OFFICE HOURS! It can't be said too many times. Whatever some students may find hard to deal with in lecture, Prof Nuckolls MORE than makes up for during office hours if you take it upon yourself to go. He is generous with his time, really good at explaining things, and very patient; he is willing to go over the same thing multiple times with you if you need it. He is happy to teach anyone who wants to learn And just some general advice--I know it's really hard, but try not to let yourself fall behind. It's true of all classes but takes on a new meaning when it comes to organic chemistry. It is totally worth it to put time into really understanding the new material as it comes; the whole class is made MUCH easier--and even enjoyable--if you do. And this way, you don't have to be frazzled with index cards (like so many of us were) before exams.
Firstly, I LOVE Professor Rojas (as does everyone in my class)!!! He is one of the BEST professors I have ever encountered. He's brilliant and makes orgo seem almost accessible. His lectures are very clear and organized, and although the exams are difficult, there is a HUGE curve in the end. Even I found myself surprised at my final grade, as it was a LOT better than I had expected it to be. I think the only thing that made me stick through with his class was not the fact that he taught it well, but because I really admired his personality. He recites poetry occasionally, and cracks witty jokes during every class. He doesn't get angry at the billions of cellphones ringing during lecture, and is very patient and considerate. I know that Orgo is one of the hardest classes ever, and my grades weren't stellar, but if you ask me, I think that you should take it just to experience Rojas's awesomeness. HE'S AWESOME. Take orgo with Rojas at Barnard, you won't regret it.
I just finished Orgo II with Snyder (who is truly outstanding), and in hindsight I can now see how awful Cornish really was. I ended the Fall semester thinking "Hey, Cornish isn't bad at all", but that's because I hadn't experienced a REAL Orgo professor yet. I went into the class with a 20.5 credit courseload in SEAS, so this may help you put this review into perspective: I suffered through this class and still got a B+. I put tremendous amounts of work in, only to lose 15 points on exams from just not reviewing her notes enough. My own fault, but you can understand the frustration. I took very long and detailed notes from the McMurry textbook, which was not necessary at all, and didn't do quite enough problems. Do all of those problems! They only seem hard because she's a poor lecturer, but really McMurry problems are a total joke. I too, read all the reviews, and went in Cornish's class thoroughly terrified, telling myself "maybe people just bitch on CULPA". This class IS more manageable than CULPA makes it seem, however there are horror stories about her that are actually true on here, too. My overall opinion of Cornish is this: she teaches by the Thayer Method, but likes to lie to you about it. She says her notes are enough and that you don't really need to read the book. This is dead wrong. You ought to read the book before you go into lecture, otherwise nothing will make sense to you and your notes will be worthless. The problem is that you need to understand the background behind all that random stuff she wrote on the board, and she will not provide that for you. Cornish will not connect the dots for you, nor will she erase them from the board properly... Some complaints: 1. She is not a good lecturer, ESPECIALLY compared to somebody like Snyder. She never provides a cause for what she's doing, doesn't give any titles to any damn tables she's writing on the board, never gives a broad categorization of the day's lecture. She is particularly awful at teaching substitution/elimination reactions. For those three weeks I felt like she was speaking a different language, until I read the McMurry book and it made great sense. 2. She encourages rote memorization. Cornish never ONCE told us why something is acidic or basic. She never ONCE mentioend what an electron-donating or electron-withdrawing group is (crucial!). Instead she gave us about 40 pKa values to just memorize. On the 2nd midterm, one question involved knowing two pKa values, and then doing some clever math to solve the problem. I did the clever math properly; I understood the point of the question. However, I was wrong about one of the pKa values. The question was worth 15 points, and I got 10 points off. Think about that! She treats rote memorization as worth 2/3 of a question! To be fair, one of her infamous homework questions did refer to acidity and basicity via resonance structures, but... 3. She doesn't give solutions to her problem sets, which is just stupid. 4. The last question on her exam involves application of what you've learned (if you've learned), which can range from totally reasonable to downright impossible. Example of impossible: She once asked for the mechanism for the Hofmann Rearrangement, which you learn at the end of Orgo II. The Hofmann Rearrangement is a huge exception to many of the rules you learn, and there is absolutely no way you would know how to do it unless you had seen the reaction before. Some upsides: 1. Everyone else is confused, too, which makes for some very low means. Those who do well are the ones who read consistently and have more time to connect the dots and see the big picture. It really, really helps to also have a supplementary book. One book a lot of people have is "Organic Chemistry as a Second Language" by David Klein, and it's wonderful. I recommend it. 2. Sometimes rote memorization helps put you over the mean. There's usually one 15 point problem on the test that comes straight out of notes. Just memorize the mechanisms she puts on the board, for sure. 3. Cornish recycles homework and test questions. Everyone seems to have the solutions to previous year's exams from older friends who took her. Sometimes, a solution to a homework you are looking for is on a previous exam. This can be helpful. 4. When in doubt, draw some resonance structures, and you'll get some points. You really can succeed in this class without ridiculous amounts of work. It honestly is manageable. It's far more frustrating in HINDSIGHT. I do recommend reading the book, despite what she says. Make good flashcards for yourself for reactions, with detailed mechanisms (can't stress this enough), and when you have one of those "aha!" moments where you feel yourself making connections between concepts, always write it down. God knows Cornish won't make those connections for you. And a warning: people say that her final is easy, but the mean is still low. It only FEELS easy because the material is no longer new. People claim that you'll be better off in Orgo II with Cornish, but I disagree. My good grade in Orgo II wasn't because of Cornish, it was DESPITE her.
I took Prof. Cornish because CULPA said that she may be hard, but if you want to learn orgo - take her. I have to agree. She does a pretty good job at getting you to understand theory and underlying concepts of 1st semester. Being exposed to it has been an enormous help in orgo II. Even though it took me the first couple of exams to catch on, by the end of it I was really happy with my understanding of the material. And - guess what? Those first exams didn't really matter because she drops 2 of the exams. SheÂ’s also amazing because only the exams count. There are no problem sets and the quizzes count as 5% of your grade. Just FYI Â– you should go to lecture, but her claim that itÂ’s all there and you donÂ’t need your text is not true at all. Read the text and glance over her lecture notes. Most importantly Â– look over her optional problem sets and old exams. It will give you a feel for the types of molecules she likes etc etc. Also, on her exams, the final question is the curve breaker. ItÂ’s always a trick question and if you donÂ’t get the trick too bad for you Â– get peopleÂ’s old exams from past years. This will help you prepare for those questions. In general Â– good professor. You actually learn stuff in orgo besides memorization. You have an advantage in second semester orgo. You get a better grade because the curve is better than other classes. People who donÂ’t do well Â– itÂ’s because they donÂ’t know how to work on their own when there are no graded problem sets.
Can I please just start out by saying that this is the most adorable man I have ever met and I love him? That being said, orgo sucks. I mean, horror stories about organic chem are all true but honestly, Rojas makes it less painful. Yes his exams are horrible and sometimes you want to drop out of school but then you think of his poetry recitations or his fabulous anecdotes or hysterical references to pop culture and you tell yourself to keep going. Amazing professor who really knows what he's talking about-and overall one of the best science professors I've ever had - Definitely a treat after Gen Chem. He's adorable, intelligent, and very suave. Terrific.
Cornish was an exceptionally bad professor. I think the reason 150 people take her class every year is because, like me, they go to the first few lectures, which are basic reviews of high school chemistry, and figure she'll be alright. But then the material gets much more novel and complex, and that's when the truth comes out. The thing to know about Cornish is that she is extremely Ambitious. She should probably be researching at a private lab somewhere, because (at very least) until she gets a paper published in Nature (which may very well be never) she's just going to continue phoning in her lectures, reading off from her notes in a barely audible monotone, jotting stuff on the board as sloppily as possible, mumbling obvious tips about study habits and such, always too lazy even to erase the board properly, so that--as if her diagrams weren't sloppy enough--now you have to discern whether that stray mark near a molecule is an electron, an arrow, or just chalk residue. This is the first class I've ever taken in which we were let out early almost every time. She doesn't even give out the answers to her problem set questions. Not even the day before the test. There can be only one explanation for this, and that's sheer laziness. (Her excuse that she wants us to "struggle" with the questions is such shameful bullshit, because then she could at very least give us the answers _after_ the test, or before the final, which would still be helpful since the material is cumulative). Even her exam keys were annoyingly sparse, but she had to finish them off in, literally, a minute, so she could get back to her research.
Despite what other people have said about Cornish being a horrible professor, I actually enjoyed her class and did well. I think that her lectures were great and she did take the time to help other students who were not doing well. I think the trick is to sit in front so you can hear her better and see the board. Also, it's true that she gives a TON of homework, but it's only for the student's benefit, and you don't have to do them all if you get the gist of it (it's not graded!). About the problems without answers, they were fair. It forced students to think on their own and learn the material, which if taken seriously, worked... b/c the midterms resembled these problems. The best part about the class is the curve. With the format of her exams, she is able to weed out students who understand the material from those who do not. And compared to bio with Mowshowitz, the problems are straightforward - no need to translate it and figure out what exactly she is looking for. Her problems are also intersting and new and will probably be more appreciated by students who enjoy organic chem and want a challenge b/c they are difficult. And people do well in her class and a lot do get As and A-s. If you take her class, you will be more than prepared for orgo II. A lot of people I know who took Katz' class said that his lectures were horrible and most had to use the TA. Lastly, if you excelled, ask for a letter of recommendation. She takes the time to write them and if she knows who you are and that you really worked your ass off to get a good grade in her class, you are golden - and will most likely get in a med school of your choice :) Do realize that she is an up and coming scientist... so she's known and respected in her field. Study hard and good luck!
As a class, the Orgo I material was challenging. As an instructor, Cornish was terrible. Although she was always very encouraging and seemed to be willing to help students, it was clear that her main purpose at Columbia is research. While I have no doubt that she is brilliant in this respect, her teaching skills are very lacking. Like many other instructors, her lectures are very boring (ok fine organic chemistry isn't supposed to be incredibly interesting). Cornish's major flaw, however, is that she lectures in an advanced style that requires prior knowledge of organic chemistry to understand. While a few of the post bacs and chemistry majors understood what she was saying, the majority of the class was baffled. Thus, despite Cornish's belief that her lectures were the be all end all, learning the material out of the McMurry textbook (actually fairly decent) was required for most students. The tests: Cornish's tests were hard. They were long answer (no mc)questions which sometimes let you choose which part to complete. (note: despite having 150+ students in the class, all the tests were graded in a day or to, sometimes to the detriment of students' partial credit). Cornish also liked putting large molecules on the final questions of tests. While these questions applied the same principles as the previous (more normal) problems, they were more difficult and sometimes intimidating. Still, the tests were doable as long as you were solid on the first few questions. The best part of Cornish's tests was the fact that she was such a poor lecturer that the means were always low (50s and 60s) so you didn't have to ace the test to beat the mean (that said the avg might be 50 with a standard deviation of 30). Also you can drop 2 parts of 7 (4 tests + 3 part final). If you are willing to put in the time, Cornish is manageable. You don't have to ace tests like you do in Katz's class in order to get good grades. If you're not a post bac or you are taking more than 10 credits...Cornish is fairly ridiculous...especially for SEAS students taking a bunch of other classes. She was a poor lecturer, but fairly standard for Columbia's research oriented chemistry department.
Don't expect to learn anything from Katz's extremely hard to follow lectures. All teaching is done by the TAs and from the book. Although Katz is obviously extremely intelligent and talented in his field as well as a nice and amusing guy, he sucks as a teacher. He couldn't understand that to most of us organic chemistry is not really common sense. Get a tutor (if you can afford one) and go to the TA help sessions. The exams are not extremely hard for orgo.
Take Katz, or anyone else. Cornish is a nice woman, but a terrible professor, I think. Take the class at Barnard where a Columbia kid is smarter than the teacher.
Prof. Rojas is the best!!!!! He's so cute, endearing and makes learning Orgo fun!! He recited poetry and Shakespeare sonnets in class! What a great class. Definately take Orgo with him if you can. The tests were pretty hard - usually slightly harder than the practice tests he gives you before the tests - but there was a decent curve. Prepare to work hard - I know a lot of people who dropped pre-med because of this class. But don't worry, there is a decent curve.
Well it's orgo, so yeah it's hard. But Prof Rojas is truly an excellent lecturer. The colored chalk and funny side stories really help. He is quite organized and provides extensive office hours and practice exams. This is a course where you hace to review the material really every day to do a decent job here. Playing with the model set helps.
As much as it pains me to say it -- take Cornish. Sure, you'll spend the entire semester tearing your hair out, confused over problem sets that bizarrely never come with answers, hating the one competent TA who also happens to be the biggest asshole alive, sweating with anticipation over her ridiculous tests...but in the end I think it's worth it. Only at the very end of the semester do all her cryptic notes and out-there test questions make any sense, so her final is actually much, much easier than the midterms. You'll spend an entire semester feeling like a total idiot and a slave to school, but it makes Orgo II a total breeze and MCAT orgo questions seem ridiculously elementary. Many Katz and Doubleday students seem pretty lost while most of the Cornish people are totally coasting through Orgo II. Cornish herself is a bit nuts...but somehow no matter how much I try to hate her for MAKING MY LIFE HELL I just can't. And those pKa values? Still remember most of them, still use them all the time. The crazy lady was right in the end.
No! is all you need to know. He is by far the worst teacher I have ever encountered at Columbia; Doubleday simply can't teach. You will have to teach yourself everything and by that I mean Everything. I am an undergrad and took his class due to a conflict with Katz's and was too scared to take Cornish's and I almost wish that I had taken Cornish. Doubleday is awkward and can be very mean. When it comes to grading, he has the strangest way of assigning one. He does not take the average or the median on his exams into consideration, he simply adds up your points and assigns you a grade you based on his expectations. When it comes to dropping your lowest exam, he simply drops your lowest raw score (not normalized). This means that if you don't get a 90 plus on his first test (which has an average in the 90s) or if you miss it for any reason you will be screwed for the rest of the semester because there won't be any chance to collect those lost points, as the average on his 2nd and 3rd midterm was a 70 and a 50. Do yourself the favor of taking Katz. My friends who were lucky enough to take him ended up with As and A-s without too much drama. I worked my butt off and ended up with a B due to Doubleday's grading scheme.
Yes, Cornish is not the greatest teacher you will have, but she is a great professor and you are in college now. If you want to stick with your high-school attitude and all you care about is grades, maybe you would want to evade her, but that will be a mistake. She does have a great personality, though it does not appear so at first in class, but just go to her office hours once. The grading seems to be a bit random, but eventually it is fair. The best thing about it is that by the time the final comes you will actually learn shit. In the first few midterms her more challenging problems (one of those would appear on every test) might drive you crazy, but in retrospect it is useful. The third midterm material is really the key, the fourth is just a revision that prepares you for the final. First two midterms are really intro stuff now I realize, though they are not friendly to beginners as I said. Just don't panic and you will do well. The final is really a peace of cake compared to what you feel about midterms. We had plenty of choice between problems on it, so no worries about the hard ones - if you don't see how to do one, it is very likely you will know how to do the alternative. To sum up, this class is a great way to enter Organic Chemistry, you might have to go through hell to reach heaven, but at the end that is rewarding. I am so disappointed she is not teaching the second semester.
Doubleday is a great professor in an otherwise terrible department. He makes the material easy to understand and is always willing to address questions inside of class and outside of it. HOWEVER, don't get tricked into taking his class if you have a heavy courseload or can't spare several hours per day to memorize the text book and do every problem in it, because that's exactly what your General Studies classmates will be doing. This results in midterms with a mean of 96% and NO curve. I was one of the few lowly undergrads in this class, and have never been more frightened of my fellow students in my entire academic career. If you're a world-class orgo whiz or have ample time to compete for a good grade with eighty hungry pre-meds only taking one or two classes apiece, I highly recommend taking organic chemistry with Dr. Doubleday. If you're a swamped undergrad who doesn't know Gilman from Grignard, RUN.
Once upon a time, I was a happy premed. Junior year rolled around, and I needed to make the big decision---who to take the first semester of orgo with. I talked to a lot of people and read all of the reviews, and for some reason, I still picked Cornish. That was because I was naive...I would do fine with Corish, the people who wrote those dozens of negative reviews were just lazy, not so smart, and very bitter. After all, CULPA reviews for Dr. Mowshowitz are horrible, but I loved her... Yeah, so that was a mistake. The thing is, these reviews are NOT an exaggeration. Cornish is by no means a bad person, she's actually very nice. She's lovely to talk to (though you need to wait on line for five hours) and can actually be helpful with life in general. Unfortunately organic chemistry does not fit into the category of "life in general." This is where the praise ends. Problems with Cornish's Orgo Class: 1) The TAs: The TAs for this course are an embarrassment to teaching at Columbia; the chemistry department should be ashamed of hiring them, and they should be ashamed of the complete lack of effort they put into their job. I am a TA myself, and I know the amount of work it requires. If these TAs put in one tenth of that effort, I would be shocked. The recitations were supremely unhelpful, and my TA would frequently announce that he would not answer a particular question, either because he didn't like it or it "wasn't important." But then, the question would be on the quiz. Or the test. Hmmm...The review sessions were a joke, and it was a small miracle if they were able to actually give a straight answer to a question...most answers boiled down to "we can't help you, you just have to understand it." In a class with material as complicated as this, you need to have TAs who know the material and care enough to help out a bit. The fact that the TAs are so unhelpful, unknowledgeable, and apathetic is a real shame. 2) The tests and grading: I like the idea of having a low mean, but the reason for that low mean should be the difficulty of the test and not the completely arbitrary grading. After getting a question right, I would find myself losing upwards of ten points, but all that was written on my paper was "-10;" not once did it specify WHERE or WHY I lost the points. When you're grading a test, you need to mark why you're taking off points, you can't just arbitarily remove them. This culminated on the second midterm, where I got the entire last question correct, but lost 12 points. I went to Cornish herself to ask why my paper said "-12," and she read my answer and told me that it was "a beautiful answer, and shows that I really have a great understanding of the material." The problem? My answer was "TOO THOROUGH." That's right. I lost twelve points because my answer was too good; because it included additional information that I thought was actually necessary to a decent answer. Give me a break. All Cornish had to say was "That's why we have four midterms, it all comes out in the wash." No no. The point have having four midterms is so that I can make a mistake, not so that the graders can. 3) The homework: Cornish assigns problem sets, lots of them. You don't have to hand them in. That's fine. What is not fine is when you assign problems and then don't provide the answers. Ever. Not even before the test. So you get 3 sets of really difficult problems for each exam, problems Cornish wrote her self, and you don't get the answers. That's fine, I'll just go to the TAs, who will surely be able to help me out, or at the very least tell me what the answer is so I can reason through it myself. See point 1 above. 4) The other students: This is a suck-up fest, and it really brings out the worst in people. Students who ask the most idiotic questions, but use that slow, painful, I'm-thinking-really-hard-but-gee-I-just- don't-get-it tone are rewarded. And the fact that there is no division between post-bacs and undergrads is unfair beyond words. In Bio, which, mind you, is the course at Columbia which actually weeds out the premeds, the post-bacs take a different section of the same course, and do not compete with undergrads. Not the case here. Let the resentment begin. So, in summary, I have very little to say about Cornish herself that's actually bad. She's a nice person. She has a lot of potential as a teacher, even if her notes barely scratch the surface of what you need to know. And her review classes at the end actually tied things together nicely. However, this class is destroyed by the abysmal TAs, poor test design and incompetent graders, and the general air of unhealthy competition it fosters. Though Cornish constantly reminds you that "You're in college now, no one is testing you anymore," I have trouble believing that when I have four midterms and Megan Rigney is holding premed meetings announcing that we're all about to slaughter each other as we try to get into medical school. In short, no class at Columbia has ever made me suffer so much, and I have little more to show for it than my bruised ego and a certain emptiness inside. For your own sake, don't do this to yourself; you may come out knowing more Orgo than in Katz' class, but it is absolutely not worth it.
Katz is clearly the lesser of two evils when it comes to Orgo I, but don't be fooled...his class is no walk in the park. His lectures were sometimes informative, but he frequently rushed through or even skipped topics that were covered on homework and exams. I walked out of many of his lectures feeling confused and had to learn a fair amount of the material from the TA's in recitation and on office hours. The structure of the class was also not very student-friendly. The TA's gave quizzes in recitation almost every week (including some exam weeks) that sometimes were extremely difficult--simply looking over the material before recitation would not nearly be enough to get a good grade. Homework also came fast and furious--problem sets were due every week and a couple of weeks had two problem sets due. These problem sets were extremely time-consuming (usually 2-3 hours) and frequently required attendance at TA office hours to figure out. In a couple of instances, he gave problems on topics that were neither in his lectures nor in the textbook--a major annoyance. I thought his tests were fair, but the grading was not. Make sure you have every little detail right on the reaction questions, because on some he will give you zero credit just because your final structure for a three-step reaction is missing one atom. His overall grading system isn't much better--he only calculates the curve for the class after dropping students' lowest test scores. This means that if you get an 80 on a test where the mean originally was 65, you may actually end up below the mean for the test once he takes out all the dropped scores. Make no mistake about it, this class is a bruiser. But unlike bio, if you put your best effort into this class you can come out of it with an A.
Although I admire Proffessor Cornish immensely for being such an accomplished and intelligent woman, she is definitely not one of the greatest teachers I've had. When she teaches, she teaches as if you already KNOW organic chemistry. She uses complicated terms and molecules to teach the material. I think she forgets it's an "I" after Organic Chemistry not "II". Basically, you have to read the chapter before every class, which is difficult for some majors who have many other classes to read for. Her tests are often hard and not very straight forward (especially the last and most difficult question). Very little partial credit is given on her tests. To do well in this class you really have know organic chemistry inside out. She's a nice woman though. Very encouraging, although I wouldn't take her class again. Take Katz!
DON'T take it with him!!! There is no curve and when the average is a 71 that means most the class is getting screwed this semester. He says everthing we need to know is in the book, but then we get our exams and it looks nothing like any problem in the book? Take another section and save yourself the migraine
I loved Doubleday. He was so nice and friendly and was there to help. His lectures were fun.
If you want a teacher who should be reserved for people who like torture and mean personalities, take Cornish. Seriously, you'll learn orgo 1 if you want to by reading the book, whether you take Katz or Cornish. But if you want to feel like a human being, don't take Cornish. In my opinion, she doesn't appear to care, and to tell you the truth, I don't think she cares to care. Her main issue is not teaching organic chemistry 1, but her research. The mean was so low on one test that she had to retest the entire class, and in the mean time assigned a crazy amount of homework from the book which we all had the answers to anyway! Who knows how she really handled the two tests when it came to grading, anyway? I can't even claim to be bitter. I did very well in her class. But that doesn't make me recommend her to anyone. Just take Katz. I don't know what else to say. Take Katz. The end.
I LOVED this man and I LOVED this class!!!! Don't let the other reviews scare you- this happens to be my most favorite teacher and class from the whole of my college experience (I will be a Junior) . Meanwhile, I walked in on day one fearful that he would be this horrible teacher because of what all the other reviews said, not to mention that this is orgo and supposed to be the hardest of all the pre-med courses. Not only did he prove me wrong, he was the most patient and helpful teacher I've had here. He was great about answering questions in class and was sooooo wonderful with helping people during office hours (he stayed four hours with me once before an exam answering every single one of my questions). He really cares about our understanding of the material and wants to help us do well. He even reserved friday classes for doing very helpful problems he posed on the blackboard. The best was that he posted a whole bunch of his previous exams on courseworks so that we could do them, make sure we truly grasped the concepts and had practice with them, and so we would know what to expect on the actual exam we were to take (i wish every teacher did this- what's so bad about being prepared and knowing what to expect!). True, he can be a bit quirky and his explanation of some of the latter material was a little unclear, but he was so nice and so helpful that as long as you put in the effort (and make sure you do), you should be fine. Also, even though there isn't a curve, I felt so prepared for the exams that it didn't matter much. Plus, his lectured were great and allowed me to truly visualize what he was talking about. I ended up getting an A+ and thoroughly enjoying the class, the teacher and the material. The only real negative was that the author of the textbook spent more time warning the readers to study than actually explaining the material to be studied! Nevertheless, Prof. Doubleday's great instruction more than made up for any inept textbook explanations. Definitely take Orgo I with this man!
This guy is a terrible teacher. It wasn't even worth going to class. I just read the book over and over and over again. The only good thing I can say about this class is that studying the text book will allow you to pass. If you can, avoid this man's class at all costs. If you do have to take it, forget lectures, get some extra study books, and do the practice exams he posts online a few times.
Professor Doubleday is among the worst professors I have yet to have. Although he seems rather friendly, as a teacher he fails to present the material in a comprehensive manner. After taking his course, I do not feel I have any understanding of Organic Chemistry. I would not suggest taking his course unless there are no other professors offering it.
So what can I say to be somewhat civil towards the worst Professor I have ever had in my life? He told us the first day that attendance was not necessary because everything will be in the book. Then we witnessed his HORRIBLE lecturing abilities. He spent half of the class period worrying about the appearance of his chair conformation than making sure we understood the chemistry. You could dream a more effective orgo lecture sleeping in than attending his class. By the middle of the semester there were less than half of the class that actually went to class. Trust me and take someone else! The class was so bad and there were no curves. I felt like I taught myself everything I actually learned. I love chemistry and I want to major in chemistry since highschool but if I have to take another class with this man I will change my major.... NO JOKE!
The workload is a killer. The professor teaches at a fast pace. Her notes are well-organized. She tells you not to read the book, but DO read it. The book is very well-written and clarifies a lot of concepts that she just skimmed over in class. She missed probably 5 lectures during the semester, and the sub wasn't that spectacular. Many were annoyed with Cornish's attitude towards students. She may appear to be very caring, but she has this high-handed executive attitude and can get too sarcastic and harsh during lecture in front of everyone on students who ask obvious questions in class. If you are not a very driven student or pre-med, then take it with Katz. Cornish is simply too much for engineering students that take it just to fulfill their requirements.
Cornish is one of the best professors I've had at Columbia. She is absolutely brilliant and her well organized lectures show it. The material really isn't as hard as everybody claims, you just have to go reread the chapters on resonance and electronegativity from g-chem and you'll be just fine. I have a number of friends who took Katz and (not to bash Katz) and they all looked very lost on the first day of second semester orgo where us Cornish students felt right at home. If you are pre-med and/or don't know dick about chemistry, stick with Katz and his easy tests, but if you don't only care about your grades, take Cornish becuase you'll learn a ton and be better off for it later. Cornish's tests will give you a chance to distinguish yourself (if you deserve it), where as Katz's tests are so easy you never get a chance to show that you know your sh*t (and what's worse, small mistakes can kill your grade because the mean is so high).
Cornish is an ok teacher at BEST. The worst part is that she think shes the greatest thing since sliced bread. Things that really annoyed me about her is that she doesnt really teach well at all. She would introduce random things you haven't learned. I mean things that are NOT relavent to what she is teaching at the moment at all. What it does is just confuse you and you end up focusing so much on what this stupid thing she introduced is instead of learning the main concepts of the day. At the end you learn nothing at all. Also, her drawings especially of electron movement is especially messy, making it difficult to tell what exactly is going on. She would use the chalk to simply dot the board to represent an electron, instead of taking a second longer to make a more obivious circle. hmm what else can I say? She also gives u these hard problems that the TA's can't even do. Then she refusese to tell u the answers to these problems. Sometimes I wonder even if she knows how to do them.
I don't want to write yet another review that focuses on grades, because Katz is right when he says that grades are not the most important thing. I know most people in this class were pre-meds, and grades matter a lot when it comes to getting into med school, but the thing is, if you actually bother to learn the material, you're going to know a little organic chemistry, and there's no reason you shouldn't get an A that way. Anyway, I never went to class and it didn't end up mattering. Just know how to do the homework problems he gives (his personal problem sets.. not the ones in the books) and read the book and you'll be fine. Anyone who says the tests aren't based on the book is really not right. The book provides a nice foundation of organic chemistry, and as long as you understand that, everything else should become clear. A little clarity is all you need to get through this course. Everyone says organic chemistry is such a hard course that's full of memorization. Yes, you will need to simply memorize some things, but everything has an explanation that makes sense. If you understand those underlying principles, you'll do just fine.
Prof. Katz is a wacky, chatty eccentric, endearing to some. He may grade somewhat generously, though I've heard of nothing more than conjecture about that. Exams means for his four midterms were about 75, 88, 70 and 75. Standard deviations are occasionally provided. If a midterm has a low mean, it appears that Katz does not add points to everyone's score to "even out" the midterm scores (thus, if you're 10 points above a 70-mean midterm, and later are 10 points below an 88-mean midterm, your resulting grade may be unduly low, given your performance). Midterms each count as 100-pt units. Final exam seems to be trifurcated into three 100-pt units. Your lowest two of these seven 100-pt units will be dropped. Katz's exams diverge considerably from the McMurry text (or any other text, for that matter), so you'd be very smart to attend class and pay attention. He assigns many problems from the McMurry chapters, but I found that his exams drew far more from both his lectures and his "homemade" problems sets he cooks up and hands out in class (usually very little is posted on CourseWorks unless a TA does so). Lectures are chalk-on-blackboard style (PowerPoint schmowerpoint). Katz's homemade problem sets take about 3-5 hours to do and are often far more complicated than his exams - so try and determine what brief, 5-minute question he could distill from those lengthy 30-minute homemade questions. Katz doesn't reply to emails and doesn't provide answer keys to the prior year exams that his TA's post on CourseWorks. However, your TA may work up an answer key for the class. Only one prior year's exam is posted for each midterm because Katz's midterms are very much the same from year to year. Queries about grades, "where do I stand in the class?", "what's the B+ cutoff for this exam?" or "how are final grades calculated?" were met by nothing more than an "I'll try to be fair." Note to Katz: the oft-repeated remark of "Relax. Grades don't matter" wasn't well-received by the class.
NO is all you need to know. Wake up at 6am and take Katz. Virginia Cornish is a very well organised lecturer, she returns exams the next lecture and is open to in-class questions. Just like most super geniuses at Columbia, her expectations of us, the students are sky high, and the exams reflect this. You'll come out of the class knowing just as much as your fellow Katzian collegues, but with a lot more grey hair. It rarely happens (but it does nonetheless) that she will pick on a random member of the class for questions, so beware. Also, she recommends that you don't read the book.... READ THE BOOK, it'll keep you afloat. Also, another interesting fact: her curves are a lot harsher than Katz's, so unless you do not care about grades, don't mind sleepless nights over homework, frustrations over exams where the mean gets as low as 40 with a standard deviation of 15 (meaning virtually half the class gets the same grade), spare yourself the pain and take someone else. If you have no other choice but to take her, prepare to study hard. Don't be too put off by the reviews, you'll survive. If you don't believe me, read the other reviews.
I've had some pretty bad professors at Columbia, but Cornish has managed to be the worst, for the simple reason that she thinks she's an awesome teacher, and she's actually terrible. Like other people have said, she tells us not to read the book, won't answer questions, avoids her students. The only lectures where anything made sense were the ones when one of her graduate students sub'd for her. And he didn't even understand what her incoherent notes said. She talks down to us, glosses over things that are pretty important, and doesn't go in order. It wasn't until the last exam that I was able to have some kind of understanding about what we did on the 2nd exam, because I'd finally learned everything that came between. Furthermore, she can't take any responsibility for herself. If the mean on the test you gave is a 40, it's probably because you didn't teach the material well and made the test too hard, not that 100 pre-meds didn't study enough. If you're stuck taking her (like all the SEAS kids were this semester), I'm very sorry. If you can take Katz, do it. You don't want to have to bitch about this woman all semester.
Professor Cornish does not have a very agreeable teaching style. She suggests that we do NOT read the textbook and focus only on her lectures, yet on the exams we have to read the text book in order to get some of the problems. She just assumes that people know what she is talking about and often times that is not the case. She also has a tendency to blame her students for poor performance on the midterms even when it is clearly her fault for not teaching things well. The only positive thing I have to say about this class is that she seems to be a nice person and her curves are fair (of course they have to be, otherwise we would all fail since the averages of midterms hover around 60%).
Peter was truly remarkable. I have never seen a TA work as hard as he did. The guy took notes on his Tablet PC then posted them online for the class. He drafted comprehensive review documents summarizing reactions, concepts and gave out sample problems. He didn't have to do any of that. The guy cares, plain and simple, and is more than generous with his time, scheduling additional office hours he wasn't required to. He lobbied Katz to move back an exam (successfully) because he felt the class hadn't had enough time to prepare. He made so few errors that it was noteworthy during a review session for the Final that he actually made a small mistake - we all thought, hey, this guy's human after all! He taught far more than his fair share of class pre-exam review sessions and was extremely capable. Truly a star TA. I've seen none better.
Professor Cornish is a smart woman but thatÂ’s not going to help you learn Orgo or do well in it. Her tirade about everyone in the class being smart and that there is no competition in the class got old and annoying VERY quickly yet she insisted on saying it at least once a week and maybe a few times after an exam where the mean was decent. Cornish gives horrible advice about how to learn orgo such as "dont read the book, just come to class," which if you just do that you definitely wont hit the mean on exams. She also keeps talking about some other text book and says that she doesnÂ’t like the one we are using. I'm sure everyone in the class was thrilled that they just paid $200 for it. And after trashing the text book, the HW assignments after midterm two came with a reading assignment...strange. She also does indeed have a horrible tendency to assign big HW sets before Thanksgiving and Election Day weekends. Imagine trying to do orgo while watching the polls....not fun. She also forced the whole class to hand in three problem sets after the second midterm that had a mean of 40%. Each problem set had about 50 questions from the book, to which everyone had the answers anyhow, so it pretty much turns into who can copy the best the night before it is due. However if you are stuck in this painful class, I definitely recommend doing the HW, at least before the midterms and definitely read the book because her lectures are HORRIBLE. She barely grazes the surface of the material and if you go into an exam knowing only whatÂ’s in your notes you are totally screwed. Personality-wise, Cornish is sometimes horribly awkward during her lectures. She has a tendency to play favorites in class, memorizing the names of two or three students (in a class of 150) and only calling them by name and going as far as calling on others relative to the person she knows such as "yes, you, next to danny." This way she does a wonderful job of alienating and annoying 90% of the class. Also dont bother approaching this woman after class, all she will do is try very hard to run away from you while saying "email me". She tries as hard as possible to take a hands-off approach to the class and she will be very cold to you especially if you are part of the majority that doesnt try to constantly suck up. She also does a wonderful job of ignoring emails, so dont even bother emailing her, just mass email all of the TAs, one of them might be nice enough to answer. Cornish's exams are mostly ridiculously hard. Oh and there r quite a few of them, studying orgo will consume your life. On midterms she tries to slip in one question that no one will know how to answer, and on the final there were two of those extremely difficult questions. She says its to help those who really know their stuff excel, i think she does it just because she is evil and likes to see people suffer. Oh and she also tends to roll over concepts that she (wrongfully) assumes everyone knows though they can easily be explained in one sentence, like why hydrogen atoms suddenly disappear in some reactions. Furthermore, it became horribly clear before the second midterm that Cornish does not like or respect SEAS students, placing the second midterm on the same day as the Physics 1403 midterm despite SEVERAL requests that it be changed and two other plausible dates.....hmm anyone still wondering why the mean was a 40%? All in all if you dont have to take this section, dont. Cornish will make sure that orgo is as hard as it can possibly be. However if you are taking 3 or 4 classes in total and have an opportunity to live for Orgo for a semester and love to suck up to professors, then Cornish is the perfect choice for you.
He was the greatest TA ever. He helped us through everything. Plus, he had very nice handwriting. His notes were thorough and clear. He did the most work of all the TAs. I think he's even better than Prof. Katz. One day, he will become a great teacher.
He doesn't go in depth about very many subjects. I didn't feel like I learned nearly as much as in Orgo I. On the plus side, this class is much easier than Orgo I, and I felt emphasized memorization way more than application.
Professor Cornish is an excellent lecturer and her presentation of the material is excellent. She is brillant and therefore has high expectations for her students. She really pushes the material taught to the limit by forcing you to look at the same question from many different angles. However, it was unfair of her to blame the low mean on the second midterm on the students. She essentially told the whole class that we were slackers and forced us to hand in the problem sets, which was a royal pain. One thing that really annoyed me was the fact that she did not give out answers to the additional problems on her problem sets...going to office hours doesn't help because she'll just tell you to go think about it more and that it's not always about getting the right answer. The "thinking" process is more important...but the thinking process doesn't exactly give you more points on an exam.
Peter is the sweetest TA you could find for orgo. He is helpful, smart, and has a good sense of humor. Not only did he give us answers to difficult homework problems during his office hours, he also took computerized notes on his laptop in lecture. And boy I must say the guy writes like a computer font. The notes he takes are so great that it really makes your notes pale in comparison. In the end I just printed them off courseworks and threw my notebook away somewhere in the corner. As for his recitation he turns what the professors says into things that make sense by giving us excellent handouts on the topics taught in class. His lectures are brief, concise and to the point, which is something I canÂ’t say for Professor Katz. He even held extra office hours on Saturdays to help us do our hw. From what I can tell, he really does want his students to do well and learn the subject. He is one of the best TAs in the chemistry dept, I only wished he would TA for Orgo II.
Although he is passionate about the material and appears to be knowledgable, Doubleday is one of the worst orgo professors on campus. As an undergraduate pre-med student who works hard and receives good grades in most science classes, I want to say with some authority that his class will make you dispise orgo. There is no curve! WTF, no curve in a science class, especially in orgo? Surprisingly, people do earn about 90 points on the exams, mainly the bright post backs and a few undergrades. Also, the number of stupid post backs clearly out number the bright ones. A plethora of annoying questions alway interupt each lecture.
His teaching is decent - its not great, but covers the concepts well enough for his tests. Hes a really nice professor and really wants everyone to do well. You should defintely choose him over Cornish because his tests are so much easier and the curve is way better.
If you are a pre-med, I strongly recommend taking Orgo with Professor Katz because from the very first lecture, he assures you that he is not your enemy and is not trying to keep you out of medical school. Personality wise, I loved Professor Katz. He kind of resembles Grandpa from "the Munsters" with his crazy mad scientist hair and his enthusiasm for the material. He cracks jokes, doesn't take himself seriously and he genuinely wants all of his students to get A's in orgo. The lecture before our exams, he would take the time to present us with a formal review as well as point out key concepts, reactions and mechanisms he wanted us to know for the exam. And he would post sample exams from the previous year on Courseworks, which I highly suggest you do because his exams from previous years mirrored our exams this year (he even repeats questions!). Unlike other reviewers, I did not get the impression that Katz was arrogant or that he didn't care about us, in fact, I found him to be quite the opposite. Katz has a huge heart and I seriously doubt the man has a mean bone in his body so if you're looking for a professor that cares about you as a student and is not out to screw you grade wise, Katz is your professor. I would only caution people to re-think taking Orgo with Professor Katz if you are not able to work independently and figure out Orgo on your own with the textbook. Katz is an awesome guy and a great lecturer, but his teaching style might not work for everyone. Let's face it, Katz has been teaching Orgo for a LONG time and I think he sometimes forgets that a lot of us are new to the material and can't pick up things like reaction mechanisms overnight. Lecture can go by quickly and sometimes you will get lost when Katz whips through a lot of material in one lecture but thankfully, one of our TA's took thorough lecture notes and posted them on Courseworks so if you missed something in lecture, or if Professor Katz didn't explain something clearly, you could review the posted lecture notes to clarify what was covered in lecture. Even if you do feel lost in Orgo at times, which certainly happened to me in the beginning, fear not because there comes a time around late October where Orgo just magically starts making sense and you will realize how great Professor Katz truly is and that he provided you with an excellent framework to understand Orgo. But what I really loved about this class was that your hard work does pay off, which sometimes doesn't happen in college science classes. If you really work hard, and study a lot for the exams you can easily get an A-/A in this class. Overall, I was happy I took this class with Katz. Getting up for a 9:00am class is a bitch and a half, but it is totally worth it and you will learn a lot about Orgo. Do the problem sets, his recommended problems, read the chapters and when you get to reaction mechanisms, make yourself flashcards. Mechanisms are difficult but you can make your life so much easier by writing out the reactions on index cards to test yourself because on exams, Katz expects you to be able to look at a structure and instantaneously know what reagents you need to make a product and how the reaction will occur. Make sure you register as soon as possible, the class fills up quickly!
I LOVED THIS CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!! for all of you who said she was condesending (she was a little), and that it was hard, just didn't study enough. So it was kinda a lot of work, but if you did the problem sets, and kept up with the lectures, you could easily stay on top of things. The one thing bad thing about this class was her office hours. They really weren't that helpful, but having a study group is a must. Your friends will help you through the material, and it will be totally worth it in the end. You will be able to say you passed organic chemisty...
I generally agree with the statements about Cornish teaching well, with harder tests than Katz but a curve. I might add about the statement that the final questions were ridiculously hard and you'd need to read Nature magazine to get them - DON't BE SCARED away by that. It's not true. You don't need to have that outside knowledge, all you need is an understanding of the concepts behind the things you memorized (and oh baby it's a lot of memorizing) and you can make decent stabs at answering the questions which may earn you almost full credit
I strongly recommend Prof. Katz. Before taking the class, I heard he was the best teacher, so I was willing to take the MWF 9:00 class to get him, and it was well worth it. He takes somewhat boring material and makes it interesting in lecture with little jokes, etc. He actually takes questions in lectures, even though there are 150 people in the classroom. He makes the material fairly easy to understand, and he is a genuinely nice person. If you are going to take organic chemistry, take it with Katz!
yes, prof katz is a nice guy and his tests are much easier than cornish's. however, he answers every single question from the class, and many of these end up being irrelevant. thus, you get up at 9am to learn very little in class and are expected to teach yourself from the book. Another annoying thing that prof katz often does is not teach what he expects you to be able to do on the problem sets. Bottom line: if you're looking for a good teacher and lecturer, take Cornish's class. if you're looking for easy tests, take Katz's.
wow. i hated this class. mainly because the tests had very little correlation to the class. just make sure you take good notes, because she'll test on something she just glossed over for two seconds. and don't think i'm just bitter because i failed...i did well in the class, but i was just continually frustrated by my long days of studying not really helping on the test. she does have some redeeming qualities, though. she's a pretty nice person, and friendly and approachable...
Prof Nuckolls is humorous, approachable, and most of all a very good lecturer. Although his lectures go very quickly as there is a lot of material to cover, he covers everything in a very logical way with even a few jokes thrown in. I feel very lucky to have had a coherent and enthusiastic prof for second semester Orgo. His exams were reasonable and exactly from the notes.
Professor Katz is one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. He's really funny and makes cheesy jokes a lot. His relaxed attitude definitely made me not stress very much about this class. His lectures can seem very disorganized, but when you go back and study for the final it all makes sense. The TA's for the class are really great; going to their office hours was very helpful.
Organic chem is a tough course.. But katz really makes it the best possible experience. he reminds me of a mix of a grandpa and a mad scientist. He gives some cheesy jokes and goes astray sometimes with lectures, but generally you learn a lot. The TA's are great in helping with concepts, they are quick to return emails. In the end, its a bitch course because of premeds.. the material is tough to learn.. But Katz makes it a good experience in the end.
I had her the first semester she was at Barnard. She came into the classroom, nervous and flustered, and then proceeded to don a very business-like serious manner of teaching. When asked a question, she flustered again, blinked twice, asked the student to repeat the question, and then said, "this is not relevant to the course." She did this numerous times during the semester, and almost NEVER answered a single student-raised question in class. I find this very disheartening as a student and discourages class participation.
Cornish has extremely well-organized lectures, but she throws a lot of stuff at you that she expects you to know. The mean for the test is in the 50's most of the time. Expect an extremely harsh grading policy. Although she's nice outside of the class, expect hard tests.
If you have a choice, don't take this one. Goldsmith is cute up by the board, and she know the material, but most of the time, she sounds like she is reading from a textbook, like she has the stuff memorized. When you ask a question, you get a mechanical, memorized answer, as if you're just reading the same sentence over again in a book. It's difficult to follow the logic of the material if you don't read the textbook, which is clearer (and far more entertaining) than she is.
Cornish seems great at first, until you realize that there is know way in hell you will be able to learn half of what she teaches you. Has an annoying tendency to assign two problem sets right before breaks (Thanksgiving and Election weekend). Puts questions on the exams that the TAs can't solve, and loves to randomly call on people in class (hide!). My advice? Take Katz. People worship him -- and he's supposed to be 100 times easier.
I started out disliking Professor Cornish at the beginning of the course, mainly due to her difficult exams. But, after getting accustomed to her teaching style and tests, I actually developed a great appreciation for the topic. The lectures are very organized, and she's always open to students if they have questions. She passionate about the subject matter and tries to incorporate real-life applications into the lectures. The tests are difficult: the mean is usually in the 50's or 60's. She always puts in an obscure question, but as long as you understand the basic material, tests should be fine. Keeping up with the problem sets is a necessity to do well in the class. BEWARE: Cornish loves randomly picking on hapless victims during class. To avoid becoming the object of intense scrutiny, don't sit next to the TAs or in the back.