Open Curriculum?

<p>What do you guys think about the open curriculum at schools like Brown and Univeristy of Rochester? What are some pros and cons for going to a school with this curriculum? I have seen some schools like this, and I wanted to get some more info on this.</p>

<p>I have seen lots of discussion of this, so you might want to search "open curriculum" and "open curriculum vs. core or distribution requirements." I think you will find that it isn't that hard to meet the distribution requirements in most schools that have them, but the open curriculums do save you from worrying about the religion/philosophy class, for example, if you don't really want one. But maybe one such class in your life isn't a bad thing! I wouldn't really make open curriculum a big factor in my decision.</p>

<p>If you're the sort of person who could use the resources around you to make a coherent and broad program, then schools with such a curriculum would be perfect for you. Those who take advantage of the open curriculum at Brown are those who don't flail around, taking random classes, but those who make every course count. Generally, students at Brown satisfy at least 2 classes in each of humanities, social sciences, and sciences/math, so it's not like an Open Curriculum precludes getting a broad background. In my case, it is allowing me to complete a BS in computer science and math while still taking enough humanities classes to have a double major in classics. All of my courses work together under the threshold of computational linguistics. I would not be able to create such a program at a college with a core. On the other hand, I'm missing out on the physical and life sciences to complete this program. I could have taken courses in those areas if I had not taken Italian or German, but I deemed the languages to be more important to me.</p>

<p>The Open Curriculum can be a major factor in your decision, but it's important to determine how well <em>you</em> will use it. Having a core saves you the trouble of having to come up with a cohesive group of courses on your own, but it may feel inhibitive.</p>

<p>Open curriculum is great: some people (myself included) use it to explore and figure out how we like things at first. I had no idea where I was going in the first semester (tentatively thought physics or polisci...), but explored a bit. Got an idea second semester, but still wasn't sure, so I "wasted" (not really: I learned some great things about how the mind works) a class in cogsci, which I wouldn't have taken had I known what I know now. But next semester, I'll be done with my need to explore lots of things (at least for a bit), and can take only classes that are applicable to my major (computer science, which I had no experience with coming in), so that I can jump into advanced classes early.</p>

<p>I know quite a few who will be using next semester, and possibly the semester after that, to explore different options as to which major they'll actually pursue, and a lack of a core is great because they get to take only the eclectic group of classes that actually interest them, at least at first (i.e. some people survey a math, physics, english and history course, while others might test out engineering and econ).</p>

<p>A pro for my D, a U of R grad, was that was that she basically had "been there, done that " for the languages, APs, etc., and the U of R let her explore more and double major.</p>

<p>A true open curriculum does not even have distribution requirements, although guidelines or a good adviser may encourage a certain amount of breadth. Uroogla sounds like a good example of someone who takes full advantage of it. Computational Linguistics is an inherently interdisciplinary field but not too many schools have strong programs in it. The open curriculum gives you an opportunity to put together a coherent program in such a field. The risk is, if you do not have very clear goals, you could wind up with a smattering of this and that without the coherence. Presumably, Brown admissions seeks out students who are not just trying to escape requirements but have (or will seek) a positive plan of approach.</p>

<p>Chicago's Core now covers 15 courses, as I recall. That does not include prerequisites and other requirements for the majors. There is a great deal of choice among Core offerings and Chicago has always emphasized interdisciplinary work. However, it would be relatively challenging to put together your own arbitrary double or triple major there.</p>

<p>The Core philosophy is that some kinds of knowledge are especially worth having and that the faculty has perspective on these choices that most teenagers do not. The Core fosters a sense of intellectual community because many students are exposed to the same big issues. They are asked questions that are not of their choosing. A good teacher will encourage discussing them in a cooperative spirit (without show-boating, drifting off topic, or leaping to conclusions the evidence does not support). Courses and materials have been re-examined continuously over decades (like an "open curriculum" by collective faculty design). Certain instructional approaches have won favor:
discussion around a table; close focus on primary source texts and general-interest not technical issues; teachers who sit and occasionally ask hard questions in a Socratic, sometimes badgering style.</p>

<p>One reason I asked this was because I will most likely major in some sort of engineering. But I have seen some of these schools with "open curriculum," and I have wondered if that would do well with an engineering major. My main problem is if I go into engineering, that major is very demanding and I won't have as much free space to explore other interests.</p>

<p>I'm heading to Smith this fall, which has engineering and open curriculum. From what I understand, the open curriculum is very helpful with engineering. Students can complete their engineering study and still spend a semester abroad with ease, or take some odd classes like art or french or somthing.</p>

<p>I really think it depends on your personality. I know a girl who said she woudl NEVER attend a school with open curriculum. She didn't like it at ALL. I personally love it. I want to be able to explore what I like and double major with ease if I should choose to. Really, ask yourself what you want out of college academics and figure out which one suits you best</p>