Today we highlight Hector Ariceaga, a pre-med student hoping to specialize in Psychiatry. Below he shares his experience with online organic chemistry through OSU Ecampus:

Who is Hector Ariceaga?

I am a post-baccalaureate student in the pre-med program. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and plan to attend medical school where I will specialize in Psychiatry. I am also currently employed full time at a local internal medicine clinic where I am a member of the behavioral health team. I work closely with Clinical Psychologists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers, along with M.D.s and D.O.s, in providing mental health services in a clinical setting. I decided to pursue a specific career in mental health and medicine after delving deep into my challenging and rewarding course work at OSU-Cascades. I had originally planned on a career in law. The goals for both of my hypothetical career paths were the same, to assist those in need. I saw many people in many unfortunate situations while growing up, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would be fulfilling to me and helpful to others. Law, and later medicine, seemed the best avenue considering my personal skills.

In my spare time I like to relax with my friends and family. I enjoy eating out, working with computers, studying, reading, and working in the performing arts. I have a very strong support network via my friends and family and attribute most if not all of my success to their constant reassurance.


How did you find our online courses, and how might we make that process easier in the future?

Because I am employed full time, meeting my course requirements within my restricted schedule is difficult. When I was signing up for organic chemistry, I noticed there was an online version available and pounced on the opportunity. I had taken organic chemistry before, so I felt comfortable taking the class online. I absolutely loved that the class was available in the format that it was. One thing that would have made the process easier for signing up for the class would be a synopsis of the course format. Not necessarily a syllabus, but how many proctored tests would be required (1-3?). This is very valuable information for people who are employed and will need to be requesting time off.


What were your favorite and least favorite elements of CH 331 online?

I loved the filmed lectures. They were posted promptly and I felt as though I could participate in the class from the comfort of my living room. In addition, the extra study material (guides, tips, videos, links, documents) was priceless. When I completed my required reading and homework, I was able to continue studying and further my understanding of the material. The discussion boards were excellent as well. I was able to ask several clarifying questions and receive answers right away. I don’t have anything negative to say about this online course. I have taken several online courses before and this was by far one of the most organized, well structured, and supportive.*


What is your best advice for other online students?

To take an online class, especially with difficult material like organic chemistry, you must have self-discipline. You can’t expect to be successful by watching the lecture videos alone. Furthermore, you can’t wait until the last minute and binge watch them all the night before. If anything, an online course requires greater diligence and more work on your part to stay on task, focused, and asking questions, because you are the only one keeping yourself accountable.* It helps to create a balance of paperwork and computer work as well. Printing some study guides, handwriting note cards, and taking notes during lecture or while reading are great ways to solidify the material. Unfortunately, computer-based learning can make us complacent when it comes to studying. Watching a lecture video or doing online homework can fool us into thinking we fully understand the material. It is important to remember that a true test of understanding will come from the ability to recall the information, and the relationships between the information, without prompting or assistance. As such, it is great to set weekly goals based on course objectives. For example, if week 1 focuses on a particular mechanism: challenge yourself to be able to draw from scratch the mechanism; name the number of steps, draw the intermediates, and describe the substrate and products; then ask yourself some questions, such as: if I change X, what will happen to Y, and why?

Finally, I would like to remind my fellow students that whether it is an on-campus or online class, give it everything you have. Be sure to give yourself enough time and resources to succeed. When you perform well you will be glad you did. Remember, the only thing that stings worse than a bad grade is knowing that you could have done better.

Thank you Hector for sharing your story with us!


*My emphasis