course
BC1601 General Chemistry I

Nov 2020

Rachel Austin deserves professor of the year. She has gone above and beyond what I would expect from a professor and I never thought I would say this, but made me actually enjoy chemistry. She took away exams during COVID-19/virtual learning and has placed most of the emphasis in this class on actual problem solving/learning and not just performing on exams. She genuinely wants every student to succeed, learn, and do well. She wanted us to make friends in breakout rooms which is just adorable! The best professor!

Oct 2020

Rachel Austin is an angel. Chem lecture is my favorite class because she just makes everyone feel so comfortable and loved. She has this fascination and awe of chemistry that the students end up feeling because she's so passionate. During corona specifically she's taken away all exams and we only have 2ish assignments per week. She's put so much effort into engaging us in different ways during virtual class, like sending us to breakout rooms long enough to make friends, using padlet, and making super professional looking instruction videos. She teaches concepts well and answers questions well and is just so pure.

Dec 2019

I heard bad things about Professor Austin before taking this class, but because she is the only one teaching it I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. HUGE MISTAKE. To be fair, she is incredibly nice. But, like other reviews have said, I learned NEGATIVE information. How is that possible? Let me explain. Professor Austin has the tendency to write incorrect information on the board. As a result, my notes have many errors. One day, as an experiment, I counted how many times she wrote something different than she said. This is a 50 minute class--EIGHT errors. Not only does she write things incorrectly, she doesn't teach us what is asked on the exam. The only content I learned from this class came from the homework and the lab section. Overall, if you can avoid having Rachel Austin as your professor please do so. I am wildly underprepared for next semester and the rest of my chemistry career. Also, unrelated to Professor Austin, this classroom is incredibly hot. Like, to the point that I had to leave class on one occasion.

Nov 2019

Prof. Austin is my absolute favorite professor this semester! While the course is really accelerated, and chemistry is somewhat difficult she is wonderful at teaching! The lectures are helpful, but you will be able to make the most of it by watching the videos she posts beforehand and then attending class! The class is 5 credits, 3 credits of lecture and two of lab. The lab itself is rather annoying, but if you go to office hours with the lab profs. you should do fine! She has so much energy and love! As long as you try hard, you will be able to succeed!

Nov 2019

Hung was a great chemistry TA and an all-around great person. He was shy at first and stuttered when teaching, but he became confident as the weeks went by. He puts a lot of time and effort into making sure our recitations are inclusive and that any student that is struggling catches up to the rest of the class. The best thing about Hung is that he wants us all to succeed and is willing to meet with you and answers your emails until all of your questions are answered (for instance, he emailed us a bunch of explanations about hard concepts before our second mid-term). If you're okay with your TA having a bit of an accent, Hung is your guy.

Sep 2019

AMAZING, AMAZING PROFESSOR! It's a hard class/challenging material at times, but she makes it so so worth it and made me consider a chemistry major. She learns everyone's names and really wants all her students to succeed. And to make it even better, she demonstrates chemistry concepts by jumping up stairs IN HEELS and so much more. Do yourself a favor, and take Gen Chem with Rachel Austin.

Dec 2018

I love this gal! She is an amazing lecturer and honestly it is a pretty doable class, as long as you put in the work. Professor Austin is super nice and honestly just wants everyone to succeed. I feel like the people who review her poorly just are mad they didn't get an A, but like what do they expect? It's general chemistry, it's gonna be hard to do no matter who you have. If you're a Barnard student taking chemistry do it with her at Barnard, don't take it at Columbia. They really try to help you do your best with extensive office hours, and Professor Austin even knew everyone's names!

Apr 2018

-Somehow a senior lecturer -Somehow STILL employed in this school, let alone in academia in general Strap in your seat belts children, because its gonna be a rough ride. General Chemistry lab is one of the worst, most uncomfortable experiences you will have in STEM at Barnard. Absolutely the worst way to begin any track in Chemistry (or STEM in general, because the class is required for many other STEM tracks such as Bio, Biochem, Neuro, etc.), not even because of the coursework itself but because of this man alone. He complicates EVERYTHING. He is not transparent (no grading rubric for the lab report grades, no consistency between graders, not willing to explain why a grade was given, and the list goes on), EXTREMELY passive aggressive (or straight up aggressive), tells you to attend office hours and then doesn't help you AT ALL (you will come out of that room more confused than you've ever been), doesn't know how to structure or organize anything (the archaic black and white notebook system needs to GO), and ultimately just fosters an environment of anxiety, depression, confusion, and isolation. Barnard always tells us to "Be well." Not possible when this man is around. A fair warning to all my fellow STEM homies: DO NOT let the attitude of this man and the environment of the gen chem lab he directs influence your image and ideas of Barnard's Chemistry Department or STEM departments in general. Yes, teachers have their moments, but the thing with Dr. J is that he is ALWAYS in a moment. Again, DO NOT let him discourage you from going forward into Chemistry or STEM in general. If you survive Gen Chem lab, know that you have truly accomplished something great. To the Barnard Chemistry Department: get real already. I have straight up heard him tell people, and I quote, "God forbid you go into Chemistry." Is that the type of sentiment you want to send to students, most of whom are first-years still exploring the possibility of going into Chemistry and have Dr. J as basically their first experience with the Chem department? I think not. For the sanity and well being of your students, and for the well being of your own Department, get rid of him.

Apr 2018

- Passive aggressive, no actually: FULL on aggressive - Speaks negatively about pretty much anything and makes for an uncomfortable environment till the point where you are either on the verge of tears or actually on the verge of tears. Or actually, drowning in tears. - Interacting with him is basically you staring at a robot in hopes of some sort of compassion and humanity. Be warned, you just get roasted. - General chemistry lab was the most frustrating, agonizing, painful, traumatic experience I have had so far. This man is a complete outlier in comparison to the rest of chem department overall. Maybe he is an outlier to the science department in general, or perhaps even the whole school. - If you have any interest in chemistry, do not let general chemistry let you down. Orgo is much, much better. Though the course material for both subjects is difficult, the point is that Dr. J makes things MORE difficult for absolutely no reason. Not to mention, things aren't just difficult with him: they're humiliating, uncomfortable, triggering, etc. - His attitude towards helping students is nonexistent; he is absolutely not transparent, passive aggressive, RIGID, and overall just a MAJOR D U B. I request the Chemistry Department to look into the actions of this man and the consequences he has had on brilliant, hardworking, and competent students who WERE interested in chemistry, but RAN THE OTHER WAY because of this individual. Before I graduate, I would like to see this man go. Barnard deserves better.

Jan 2018

I have never taken a class so poorly taught, or rather, not taught at all. The flipped classroom learning style may be an excellent tool in the hands of certain professors, but not Professor Austin. While I understand the appeal of doing problems in class and watching lectures at home, it just didn’t work. We barely ever had time to finish the problems we did in class and when we did, Professor Austin’s answers were barely ever right (the basic algebra was wrong), or she didn’t explain how she got the solution at all. The videos we watched for homework were from last year and in a different order so there was constantly information referred to that we hadn’t learned yet. On that note, Professor Austin assumed that we had a basic knowledge of chemistry coming into the semester, which a lot of other students and I did not. I wasn’t the only one struggling and the only people who weren’t struggling were the students with a strong chemistry background. There were problems on exams that only people who took AP knew the answers to, and this occurred throughout the course. She expects you to go to office hours every day, which realistically is just not possible. The exams were really long so no one could finish or have time to think at all. This course just ruined any love for chemistry I ever had. All of my friends and other students in the class started questioning being pre-med. Professor Austin’s teaching methods didn’t work for anyone without a strong chemistry background and just ended up killing any passion we may have had for the subject. If you're not a science major, take this course at Columbia!

Dec 2017

Condescending, rude, sexist. Overhead saying that the lab runs late because girls work in it, and if boys were in the lab the lab would ended earlier. Unnecessarily disrespectful, mean, monotonous. Tells you everything that you do “wrong,” but never have i heard any positive feedback from her. If you ask her a question, majority of the times her response will be “I do not understand what you are talking about” in the MOST CONDESCENDING TONE EVER. Would lose her shit over the simplest of things and sometimes would be outrightedly wrong but you cannot even explain yourself as she cuts you off and pushes her point of view down your throat. Made me and other students feel like absolute shit

Dec 2017

She is an amazing professor. In class, she always takes the extra time to answer questions and make sure that all confusions are cleared up. She also has office hours every day of the week. In office hours, she promotes a judgement free environment which ensures that nobody is ever afraid to ask questions. While sometimes her explanations in lecture can be a little bit confusing, she also posts videos online that we can watch multiple time to make sure that we understand what is happening. Her grading is also very fair, and we are able to drop two out of four exams. Additionally, in lecture, she makes the information approachable by utilizing analogies that relate to us. Her enthusiasm for chemistry is infectious. After taking this class, I have discovered a passion for chemistry.

Dec 2017

Professor Austin is amazing! She is so knowledgeable and good at explaining the material. She also posts videos for almost every topic that we cover so that you can review things on your own time and at your own pace. She is available during almost all office hours and is great about giving one on one attention even in a huge class. She seemed to know everyone's names by the end of the semester.

Dec 2016

Prof. Austin is an amazing professor! She puts in a lot of effort to make the material manageable for all students. She has plenty of office hours, and is very responsive to the needs of her students. She fosters a collaborative learning environment, and her lectures are very easy to follow. Highly recommend this course!

Dec 2016

I love Prof. Austin. She is so sweet and understanding. She drops your two lowest test grades (including the final). She really wants her students to succeed and love chemistry. She organizes the class by having video lectures for homework and then doing problems in class. I like this because I was able to ask her questions in class with her and the problems are always the hardest part of the tests. She is great. I love her. Take class with her

Apr 2014

If I could say one thing I regret about my time at Barnard I would say that I sincerely regret taking Gen Chem I and II at Barnard. Dr J is one of the worst professors I have ever had. Although he probably isn't, the way he acts towards his students and the grades he gives seems to suggest that he does not care about his students at all. Gen chem Lab was one of the worst experiences I have had in college and I came out of that lab crying at least once. Grading on these labs is completely unfair. If you measure .004 g more of a compound than you are supposed to, and your accuracy and precision are off, you are severely penalized. It makes no sense. A lab is supposed to be a time where you learn the background and the concept behind the experiment, not how well you know how to weight sodium chloride on a scale. Grades as low as an F were given out to students and unless you are the very top of the class in the lab it really brings down your confidence as a student. Gen Chem lab severely lowered my overall Gen Chem grade. It was really disappointing and I know that had I taken it at columbia I would have done much better. I could say the exact same for Gen Chem II (intermediate chem) with Dr. J. He would wiz through material, assuming we knew it all and did not explain anything clearly. His jokes do not make up for the fact that he does not know how to teach. He would give us problem sets that were literally impossible to figure out sometimes unless you hired a tutor that happened to be a grader for the problem sets. Otherwise you are screwed. His tests (especially his first test) did not reflect the problem sets or the lecture material. It was just a terrible experience studying for those tests and taking them because the amount of time and effort you put in to studying for these tests did not at all reflect the grade you would get. Dr J has a rule that if you do better on the final than you did on your lowest midterm grade, he would drop that midterm and replace it with the final score. For the final, I studied his notes, and focused on his problem sets and past exams (as most people do while studying for a final). However, his final exam did not reflect his problem sets or his exams at all, rather he focused on the subtle things he had never tested us on before. This basically prevented anyone from actually boosting their grade with the final. The final exam definitely lowered my grade. If you havent taken chem already and need it for some sort of requirement, TAKE IT AT COLUMBIA.

Nov 2013

Magyar means well, but he isn't a very good lecturer. Sometimes he gets confused, which is okay, because he usually clarifies his mistakes. However, he's awful at answering questions in class. He looks at the board for a long time, looks at the student who asks the question, smiles winningly, attempts to make a joke, and sometimes attempts to answer the question. Sometimes. Magyar trying to teach electrochemistry was almost unbearable. Quote: "this is new for me too - we're all in this together!" Unless you've taken AP chem and done well, or have gobs of free time on your hands, gen chem with Magyar can be brutal. The class goes fast. You can do well on the tests by practicing problems over and over, in Sapling and in the textbook. Go to office hours with the student instructors. The problem solving workshop can be helpful, but often slow-moving to sit there for an hour an half on a Tuesday night. He's also irritating about what material will be on the test. His classic line is "don't worry about it too much." Too much? Somewhat? How much?! He refuses to be explicit about curving in addition to what material will be on the test. Apparently, at the end, there's a small curve (no individual tests are curved). So you never really know exactly how you're doing in lecture. The average of our first test was like a 65% or something. Moral: gen chem at Barnard is a weed-out class. Be prepared to do chem ALL THE TIME. It definitely needs to be your priority if you want to do well. Can't say I'll miss Magyar. But, in his own words, don't worry about it too much, guys.

Jan 2010

A lot of people write reviews after seeing they didn't quite get the grade they "deserved" and subsequently blame Chapman. And on the other side are the geniuses who just GET IT and don't understand why everyone else couldn't understand. Personally, I thought Chapman was GREAT. She's this really spunky older woman and will NOT coddle you or give you the answers AT ALL (which is what some people expect). She'll lead you in the right direction but leaves the rest up to you. Utilize her office hours and don't be afraid to ask questions! I learned a lot and spent a lot of time on my work and barely received a "decent" grade. It's hard work but if you're dedicated and ready to work it's manageable.

Apr 2009

Sally Chapman is the meanest professor I have ever encountered in my three years of college experience. While her ability to convey the rather dull information associated with Gen Chem is acceptable (although she does seem to like to make a LOT of mistakes in her presentations, which also lead to immense amounts of confusion in a subject that is so confusing as it is), she lacked an understanding for social interactions completely. This woman is such a horrible representative of my gender, I am embarrassed to call her a woman, especially a Barnard woman. She is MEAN, BITTER, INTOLERANT, RUDE, DISCOURAGING, INSENSITIVE, and all of the other adjectives you can think of that describe impossible human beings you should avoid at any cost. This woman made me cry so many times, in my room, in class, in front of her, at which she did not even blink an eye. I cannot express the emotional turmoil she put me through and how horribly she affected my academic performance. I have never felt so uneasy about a college course and the presence of a professor as I did with her and this god forsaken gen chem class. PLEASE, if you have the choice of taking gen chem ANYWHERE ELSE, DO SO!!!!! This woman will fuck you up for good.

Jan 2009

This class was incredibly boring. If you've taken AP Chemistry and did well, you'll just feel like it's review the entire time. Sometimes she'll do mini-experiments in class which can be interesting, but overall I barely paid attention in class and did fine. The weekly problem sets are pretty easy, the weekly practice problems are NOT, and the tests are somewhere in between, so I suggest you do some of the practice problems to be well prepared. Her office hours are generally useless and she is not very helpful. I've received the following answer several times when I've asked a question: "We reviewed this in class. Think harder." I'm not kidding. I don't know how Chemistry is at Columbia, but the overall consensus seems to be to take it there.

Dec 2008

He goes off on tangents ALL THE TIME. You really don't need to go to class... just read the book, so you'll do well on the weekly quizzes. The tests are hard whether you go to class because he loves to make the questions tricky.

Dec 2008

By far one of the WORST professors I have ever had. She is short tempered, unfriendly, and very unforgiving. She doesn't actually seem to know what she is doing/teaching which makes the class extremely difficult. Her office hours are many, but very unhelpful and a royal waste of time. I liked chemistry coming into the course, but now I absolutely hate it. Chapman made chemistry boring, tedious, frustrating, and pretty much retarded. I wish I had never taken this course because not only did I waste most of my time doing the impossible amount of work given in this class, I had the displeasure of having this old cow as my professor for an entire semester. She asks for a evaluation at the end of the course but I doubt she actually reads them and tries to improve because she just sucks. In every way. Take chemistry at Columbia. Don't even risk it here.

Jan 2000

Professor Chapman is a straight forward, businesslike lecturer who is thorough and knows her Chemistry. Professor Chapman will answer questions during lectures and will try to explain as best as she can. She gives weekly problem sets that are difficult and mandatory. Her exams are thorough and difficult.