Information for First Year Students | St. Lawrence University Chemistry

Information for First Year Students

Coordinator/Dept. Chair: Prof. Nadia Marano
Phone:  315.229.5245
Campus Address:  JHS 313

Welcome!  As you begin planning your first year of study at St. Lawrence, you may have questions about how to structure your academic plan in a way to suit your interests and goals. If you are interested in natural or physical sciences, particularly chemistry or biochemistry, we offer a few different programs that will be stimulating, challenging, and yet provide some flexibility in planning your academic schedule.  While much information is available on this website regarding our different programs, courses, and undergraduate research opportunities, we pride ourselves on being approachable and available to answer student questions -- you should always feel comfortable asking any member of the department if you have questions about chemistry at St. Lawrence.  If your advisor is not in the sciences, you may wish to establish a formal or informal advising relationship with a professor in your field of interest. 

All students interested in majoring in chemistry, biochemistry or pursuing a health career should enroll in general chemistry their first year.  General Chemistry I w/ Lab (CHEM103) is offered this fall and is appropriate for first-year students; it also fulfills the NS-L requirement. General Chemistry is a prerequisite for all upper-level courses in the department.   Most students fulfill this prerequisite by completing the sequence of CHEM 103 in the fall and CHEM 104 in the spring. Each has a lab and carries 1.25 units of credit. Multiple small sections of general chemistry are offered each semester using the same text and similar syllabi; thus the labs are interchangeable.  We offer a wide range of support for students in the course, including faculty office hours and optional peer-led workshops. 

To get an idea what academic life is like for students majoring in biochemistry and chemistry, follow the department’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sluchemistry.

Students interested in chemistry or biochemistry at St. Lawrence follow their introductory course with a second semester of general chemistry, followed by a year of organic chemistry to complete the introductory sequence. These two years of chemistry are the foundation courses for chemistry and biochemistry majors, and also the required courses for the pre-health track. 

We offer the following majors and minors:

Notes about your first year:

If you take General Biology and General Chemistry, you will receive 1.5 units for FYP, 1.25 units for General Biology and 1.25 units for Chemistry.  For their fourth course, students often choose a course that fulfills a distribution requirement to start exploring the curriculum (e.g. Arts& Expression, Diversity, Humanities, Social Science, Math/Foreign Language), but talk with your advisor about the best options for you.  

Students who have taken the advanced placement test in chemistry and scored 4 or higher are entitled to receive one unit of college credit. Those students should enroll in CHEM 104 in the spring.  Students who score 5 or higher in an upper level IB exam may also get credit for CHEM 103 and enroll in CHEM 104.  Students may also elect to take the full CHEM 103/104 sequence, especially if they have little laboratory experience.

Biochemistry:

The biochemistry major is available through the departments of biology and chemistry. Because you need to complete many prerequisite courses to pave the way for your upper-level work in biochemistry, those considering this program should complete both General Biology courses (BIOL 101 in the fall and BIOL 102 in the spring) and General Chemistry (CHEM 103 in the fall and CHEM 104 in the spring) during their first year.

FAQs:

Where do I start?  The first course in the chemistry sequence is General Chemistry I w/ Lab (CHEM-103).

If I want to major in chemistry, what classes should I take?   In addition to your FYP and General Chemistry, students planning to major in chemistry typically take one additional science course and one non-science course.

If I want to major in biochemistry, what classes should I take?  In addition to your FYP and General Chemistry, students planning to major in biochemistry typically take General Biology and a non-science course.

If I am planning on a pre-health track, should I take General Chemistry as a first-year student? Yes.

Are there any prerequisites for General Chemistry? Do I need to have taken chemistry in high school? There are no pre-requisites for General Chemistry; you do not have to have taken chemistry in high school to be successful in this course.

What will I learn in General Chemistry I w/ Lab? The major goals of this course are to learn, understand, and apply basic chemical principles. This course uses in-class experimentation, discussion and lecture to ask and answer questions of general chemical interest, including applications in biology, physics, astronomy and geology. Topics include atomic structure and properties, molecular structure, water and its unique properties, acid/base and ionic chemistry, and the origins of the elements. 

Can I place out of General Chemistry?  Students who have taken the advanced placement test in chemistry and scored 4 or higher or who have taken an upper-level IB exam and received a 5 or higher are entitled to receive one unit of college credit. Those students should enroll in CHEM 104 in the spring. Students may also elect to take the full CHEM 103/104 sequence, especially if they have little laboratory experience.

Do I have to take a lab with General Chemistry?  The laboratory component of General Chemistry is required.  Please contact Dr. Jennifer Schmeisser if you have difficulty finding an appropriate lab section.

What are peer workshops? Do I have to be in a peer workshop with General Chemistry?  Peer workshops are an opportunity for you to practice problem solving skills and more difficult problems with fellow students and a peer workshop leader, an older student who has previously excelled in chemistry. Peer workshops are optional but recommended.

Who teaches General Chemistry?  Faculty who teach General Chemistry  include Drs. Samantha Glazier, Adam Hill, Nadia Marano, Amanda Oldacre, Jennifer Schmeisser, Matthew Skeels, and Samuel Tartakoff.

Where can I purchase the General Chemistry textbook?  The faculty of General Chemistry edits and publishes the textbook in-house; physical copies of the book are available only through the St. Lawrence University Bookstore. Digital copies of the book are available free of charge for students enrolled in the course.