Ironically, Brown has adopted an open curriculum so that students can explore various interests and find their passion (“Exam Time,” Under the Elms, May/June), yet recommends (if not requires) that applicants follow the most demanding college preparatory track possible to improve their chances of admission: four years of English, four math, four science (3 labs), four foreign language, two history, and one academic elective. Source: The Princeton Review, The Best 361 Colleges, 2007 edition.

I can’t tell you how many fantastic high school courses I passed up in order to meet Brown’s entrance “standard”—in fairness, to meet the ever-rising criteria for a number of top colleges—not to mention the push upward in subjects that clearly do not define me by interest but do affect my GPA, sometimes in a downward way! It would be interesting to study whether taking more electives early on improves one’s success in college. Taking it a step farther, one could test whether graduates landed in meaningful jobs fairly quickly upon leaving Brown, or not.

I think young people should be able to experiment with learning to find out who they are and what they like, rather than be thrust into a core curriculum all over again. In the ten months that I’ve been researching colleges, a process that began with Brown, I find myself right back again because the open curriculum cannot be beat, and it is the rare institution that offers it. I don’t even need to see the report from the Task Force on Undergraduate Education to give my vote—it’s YES!

Myles McGreavy

Warren, R.I.

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The writer is a high school senior.—Editors

Comments (2)
I have to agree with Mr. McGreavy. As an athlete in high school, it was assumed by just about everyone that I would be a physical education teacher. As I always aimed to please, I did all the things to prepare for just that, including going to the preeminant PE school of the day, Springfield College. While there I learned that I was quite good at math and science, although previously I had been pegged as only an average student in those areas. I realized after doing my student teaching that there was no way I could teach badminton for the rest of my life, and indeed, I never did teach, but instead became the business manager of a health club, and now I am a successful photographer. Were I to do it again, I think I would have studied either computer science or engineering. 
I think that high school is such an important time for our children to be presented with a plethora of options and opportunities. Being forced into taking such conservative classes may leave them wondering not only what they will do in the future, but who they are now, and who they will become.  
I thought that colleges these days were interested in well-rounded individuals -- those who are intelligent, but who may also play a sport and/or a musical instrument, or have artistic talent. How are they to become well-rounded when forced to follow such a straight line?
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Myles is right on target. All research indicates that creativity and flexibility are the key ingredients for success in the 21st century, yet states are marching lockstep into prescribed, narrowed curricula with lowest-common denominator standardized tests. It is disappointing that a university such as Brown, which has a reputation for fostering creativity,also requires such a narrow preparatory curriculum. I would love to see researchers take up Myles' research suggestion.
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