First Person

Not Even Looking at My Grades
Oren Karp ’20 "went crazy" with the New Curriculum.

January 8th, 2020
Photo of Oren Karp ’20 on steps of Robert Center
Oren Karp ’20 has taken classes ranging from linguistic anthropology to music, geology, and math. Photo: David DelPoio

I came into Brown thinking I could take whatever I want for four years and then graduate. I was like, “Oh, I might as well go crazy.” I took a full year of Egyptian Hieroglyphics when I was a freshman, that’s a fun fact. And I had a big moment of realizing, “Oh no, I can’t. I have to concentrate in something.” And I felt betrayed and lied to. But then turns out you can get around that.   

Because I was taking Arabic, I naturally fell into a path towards Middle East Studies, which at the end of sophomore year was what I declared. Junior fall I shopped the required classes and I was like, “Wow, this is terrible.” I had a mid-college crisis. At first I was like, “Oh, I’ll just suck it up.” And then I was kind of like, “Well, I didn’t come to college to take classes I don’t want to take and just suffer through them.” 

So I went to the Curricular Resource Center and cried to the person there. I was like, “Please save me. Let me do an Independent Concentration.” I showed them my classes, and they were like, “I see some common threads. Storytelling seems like one of them.” And I was like, “Okay cool, I can work with that.” So I just wrote up a really quick 18-page Independent Concentration proposal for Storytelling and submitted it on the last possible deadline. They sent it back and they were like, “This needs major revisions.” So I reworked it and resubmitted it four times over six months. 

I have taken 28 classes in 21 departments. If anything, it’s been really great for me because it’s meant I’ve had a variety of homework, and I feel like it’s better for my brain to do different ways of thinking. I’ve been in several upper-level seminars in which I had not taken any of the lower-level classes, and I was 100 percent okay. 

The advice I always give to people is to make the same mistake that I have made, which is to take the classes that you want to take. You can deal with the possible consequences later. 

Who Cares About S/NC?

All my classes are S/NC in my head. I never change my grade option to S/NC or not S/NC because I don’t care what grade I get as long as I’m passing all my classes. I hadn’t checked my grades until last semester when I had to because I needed a transcript to include in my Fulbright application. My parents were always like, “What grades did you get?” And I was like, “I don’t know. I passed,
isn’t that enough?” 

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January–February 2020
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