curriculum

<p>Anyone have problems with a lack of structure in the curriculum @ Brown?</p>

<p>Some people do. If one is not self-motivated and driven, it can cause problems, leading to no sense of what one wants to concentrate in and a feeling that many of one's courses have been wasted. If one is the sort of person who thrives making one's own decisions or knows exactly what one wants, then the Open Curriculum will be perfect. What I'm doing at Brown would be impossible at nearly every other school in the country. I'm not 100% happy with how my program will be, but the courses I wish I could take are less important to me than the ones I will.</p>

<p>The only regrets I have with the curriculum (so far) is not utilizing it enough: I took courses that weren't challenging enough, or didn't go into depth as much as I would have liked. Case: I really enjoyed Sobel's Human Cognition (Cogs 420/CLPS 200), but I also shopped Serre's Computational CogSci (Cogs 1280/CLPS 1291), and I dropped because I felt the work would be a tiny bit over my head, and I thought an intro course is usually a good grounding/I might need it later. My friends who stayed in Computational loved it and got a lot more out of it than I did 420, even if Sobel is a good professor (though his grading system isn't nearly transparent enough), and I feel like Serre's class would have prepared me better for more rigorous courses that I'll be taking this fall.</p>

<p>My daughter, '05, absolutely loved it. And I think to characterize it as lack of structure is nonsensical to me--more an embarassment of riches. If you want to be reassured by structure, look at the major requirements in a discipline you are interested in. For some areas, you have to start those rather soon. The burden and joy of exploring classes outside your major and getting some cross disciplinary exposure is a strength of the program. My daughter used the program to explore various science and math classes (as well as some humanities and language courses) and was able to find her major this way. Nothing was wasted. In the end, there isn't enough time in the day to take everything you want in those 4 years, so it is a great blessing as well as responsibility to be allowed to guide your own destiny.</p>

<p>There is incredible flexibility to take advanced courses, and even courses you don't have the formal prereq for, if the instructor agrees. However, it's up to you to be able to do the work.</p>

<p>If you don't like such an opportunity, don't choose Brown. However, there is nothing to stop you from creating your own core or survey program, or even emulating programs from other schools, until you find your own direction, if you need a place to start. Hopefully your advisor and your Micklejohn will be of some help starting out. Consider taking one of the freshman CAP and/or First Year Seminars.</p>

<p>@chsowlflax17: I took 420, too! Are you also CogSci?</p>

<p>@Everyone else: take CLPS0200/COGS420! It's a great class.</p>

<p>re: the actual topic at hand... while most people I've met cite the Open Curriculum as a major reason for coming to Brown, I know a number who, in retrospect, feel they would have benefited from a more structured program. If you don't know what you want to do (or if you change your mind halfway through the semester), it's easy to feel lost. I'm fairly certain about what I want to study and how I want to do it, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by the number of electives (especially those not related to my concentration).</p>

<p>Overall, if you are prepared to experiment and/or know what you're doing, then the Open Curriculum will probably work for you.</p>

<p>@thefunnything: nope. I was hoping to make an AI concentration (won't really work as an IC, but may be able to make it a CS/CogSci/APMA concentration). Sobel is great, but my favorite part was actually writing the research paper (at least, the second half), and I feel we didn't deal enough with experimentation and integrating abstract ideas for it to be one of the best classes for me, personally. Too much memorization rather than integration (but my favorite question was definitely the American Idol one... I just wish 90% of the questions were like that).</p>

<p>I loved the research paper. I want to be a researcher some day, so that assignment was definitely a taste of what I hope to be doing a few years down the road. Totally agree about the memorization––I just thought the material was fascinating (but then again, I'm linguistics/cogsci, so I guess that makes sense).</p>

<p>A word to everyone else: as with any school, classes at Brown aren't perfect. Take a look at the syllabus when you shop a class (and don't be afraid to email professors beforehand if you can't find the syllabus online/don't know anyone who's taken the class). Sometimes the material is awesome, but the reading is dry or the assignments are not very fulfilling (or too much work, or poorly designed). Brown also has a site called The Critical Review (Critical</a> Review Online) which posts student reviews of courses and professors. [NB: only those with a Brown ID can log in.] Most students find this site a good source of information.</p>

<p>courses.brown.edu/
(Professors upload syllabi for the courses they are currently teaching.)</p>