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Is the Open Curriculum what I need?

rdstourrdstour Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
edited September 2007 in Brown University
I'm sure similar posts have been made, but I haven't been able to find them.
My question is, although I find Brown an attractive place to be(albeit I haven't visited it yet), the one thing that makes me pause is the open curriculum. I've read modestmelody's posts, and i agree with his points, but I still am undecided.

I like the idea of having a core education, and people argue that I could make my own core at Brown if I really wanted to, if I get in.
However, what kind of student does the Open Curriculum suit?

And how about me? I'm undecided as to what I want to study, ditto for passions etc. I do well in all my classes, but no clear preference or leaning towards a particular subject (history is a hobby of mine, but not my idea of a major)
Post edited by rdstour on

Replies to: Is the Open Curriculum what I need?

  • pyewacketpyewacket Registered User Posts: 1,682 Senior Member
    Brown seems to attract students who don't want their educational path prescribed for them but have their own ideas about what they want to explore. But I am sure you would find others there who share your commitment to core liberal arts and helpful profs who would suggest useful courses based on your interests. Many freshmen, also at top universities, do not yet have clear preferences. There are more than one type of student at Brown--everything from preppy to artsy, to sports enthusiasts and pre business or pre-med types. If you are intelligent and tolerant with a sense of commitment to academic pursuits of one kind or another, you can find your niche and be happy there.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    What is it about a core curriculum that appeals to you? As for being undecided-- so are most people, so that doesn't really effect the core/no core thing IMO.

    The question is, what attracts you to the idea of a core, and what would attract you (if anything) to an open curriculum? The OC can be liberating for someone who is ready to take advantage of it after having a tough time pursuing interests in high school, for whatever reason, or for someone who's driven, independent, and inspired by academic exploration. It can be daunting and overwhelming for someone who has spent high school more as a passive vessel, simply taking in the information presented and not really moving into the synthesis phase of learning/thought and who does not feel ready for the responsibilities given to you when it's not as easy as "one English, one social studies, one science, one math".

    So the question is, what do you think the core will provide you with, and are you unsure the OC can do the same (if not more)?
  • rdstourrdstour Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Modestmelody, thanks for your great post, you posted some great questiojs for me to think about.
    What I like about a CORE is that it gives me that in depth learning in the CORE branches of education. I've always liked that idea of learning those 4 subjects, which would help me outside of class, or in other classes. However, that's not to say, I don't like academic exploration. Coming out of high school, i feel like i have yet to really find my true interests and passions, and I feel the Open could help me do that. I'm not sure if I'm driven enough to do it, but I think that if necessary, I should be able to.
    The one other thing that qualms me, is that I learn better in a smaller, teacher-focused environment, and I'm not sure if Brown can provide me that support. My stats are certain;y high enough for Brown, but I'm not sure if I can deal with everything that Brown would give me.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member

    Class size.

    And for what it's worth, I'd look into some great books on higher ed, what it is, and what it's meant ot be. I wish I had read into that stuff a bit to get a sense of the goals of various institutions and why they go about doing what they do to provide you with essentially, the same educational goals.

    It's wrong to think that those four subjects are the CORE-- they're not. Things are FAR more blurry than that, typically brought down to 3 or 4 subjects of "Social sciences, humanities, natural sciences" or "Social sciences, humanities, physical science, life science" and within those areas there is an incredible array and richness to the modes of thinking. From a disciplinary standpoint, each department not only has some factual background, but also has it's own academic culture, way of thinking, way of questioning-- to truly be a separate discipline one needs to develop an entire approach to problem solving unique and separate to other scholars.

    The liberal education, which is what you seem to be hinting at for why you like the core, is alive and well, and in fact, quite rich at Brown.
  • pyewacketpyewacket Registered User Posts: 1,682 Senior Member
    If you are sure your stats are good enough for Brown, you might, nevertheless, be happier at a smaller liberal arts college offering a more intimate environment. Consider Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore and Haverford. I was a grad student and teaching assistant at Brown ( a good many years ago) and had been undergrad at Mount Holyoke. MHC definitely fostered a more intimate style of teaching and opportunity for close relationships with profs than seemed to be readily available at Brown--at least for freshmen and sophomores. It does make a difference when there are few or no grad students around and the focus in on undergraduates.
  • fredmurtz2fredmurtz2 Registered User Posts: 421 Member
    Here's the question: Do you trust yourself to pursue what you want? If so, no finer a place can be had.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    While you have a good basis of comparison, pyewacket, I'd liek to ask what you studied, because I've found that Brown fosters a very intimate environment with the professors I've engaged in so far.
  • rdstourrdstour Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    To be honest, there is a bit of doubt in my mind, when I realize that at Brown, I'd have that complete freedom. Are there academic advisors that could help me figure out what classes they'd reccommend I take, or is that just part of the learning experience at Brown. With X000s of courses to choose from, is there any help, or is it all up to us?
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Of course you have an advisor -- each freshman has a faculty advisor and an upper classman (Mieklyjohn) advisor freshman year. Each faculty advisor only has 6 students to advise.

    Of course, the truth is, most Brown students are very independent and have a pretty good idea as to what they want ot take. It's not a matter of doubt-- it's a matter of fear. It's your responsibility, though we'll provide many forms of guidance throughout your time here, to be the architect of your own education. We don't believe there is a singular correct path towards a liberal education, and invest and believe in the power of the process of forming your own curriculum as a learning experience that is more enriching than going through the motions because you're told to.

    It's worked for me, and made my education what it is.
This discussion has been closed.