One of the hardest things about this process is that I really have no one to ask for advice - that is, I don't have any real people friends who are going through it too to ask for or have volunteer information. So I rely a lot on forums and blogs that I read for tips. And hope that what I write will help others learn from my mistakes and things I've learned along the way.
And I have to say, I've actually learned a lot so far - and wish I had known a lot of these things before. Like today, for example, I learned that I can do my prerequisite courses as Pass/Fail - especially since I already have a degree and these courses I'm taking won't affect it.
I'm glad I found this out because it really takes the pressure off me for my 1.5 credit course requirement remaining for one university. Even though the grade I get wouldn't count for the one university that has the requirement, for another university in my top 3 the grades for every course ever taken at the university level count, whether or not taken as part of your degree. But taking it as Pass/Fail is win/win - I get the credit and it won't affect my GPA for ANY program. Also, lets face it but I think a Pass looks way better than a 60. Both lead to credit for the course but a 60 = crap and Pass can mean anything - and the university can't judge you on it. Also, I ran the numbers and even if I did amazing on my 1.5 remaining course requirements (4.0) my cumulative GPA would hardly budge at all.
I only wish I had known this before I did my Biology course. I ended up with a B+ in the course which I know isn't terrible but it does lower my GPA ever so slightly. But also I spent so much time on labs and assignments, which, while were great for helping me learn, also took a great deal of time. So the benefit of potentially increasing my GPA is tiny compared to the risk of it dropping and the effort it would take to get the amazing grades.
Another benefit of knowing this is I may actually be able to take another course such as Chemistry or Physics which may help me with letting me apply more broadly since I won't have to worry about a terrible score.
I know I shouldn't get ahead of myself - I'd still have to actually pass the course and I have to do some research because many courses don't have the Pass/Fail option. But I think it would be much easier to pass 3 courses (i.e. get 50%) than do amazing in two courses (90%+) or even one. Lets face it, its easy in general to pass, slightly tough to get over 70, even harder to get over 80 and damn right difficult to get over 90.