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!
The writer is a high school senior.—Editors