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Fuerbacher '14: Should Brown embrace pre-professionalism? Yes.


Every family has its cast of characters whose DNA matches but whose personalities diverge, and the Ivy League is no exception. Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale all promote educational excellence and intellectual innovation, yet our attitudes toward the pursuit and applications of these goals differ. If Brown's open curriculum and theoretical approach to curricular design epitomize the "liberal arts" philosophy of undergraduate education, then Penn - with its four distinct undergraduate schools and career-driven course catalogue - embodies the soul of pre-professionalism. Given today's competitive workplace and Brown's own interest in its graduates becoming leaders in their chosen fields, the University should behave more like our pre-professional Ivy League peers.
I transferred to Brown from Penn's Wharton School of Business. Though I embrace Brown's scholastic liberty and dynamic student community, I unwaveringly extol the career-focused intent of the Wharton curriculum. I am not disparaging the quality of a Brown education - on the contrary, I boast to my Penn friends that Brown's economics classes are more rigorous than their Wharton analogs. And by Brown's own admission, we should not mistake the Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations concentration's mix of economics, engineering and sociology classes - interesting as they are - for bona fide business-prep. Harvard, Columbia and Dartmouth, which are genuinely liberal arts institutions, offer specific, practical classes on managerial accounting, marketing principles and business leadership.
The defense of pre-professionalism does not solely cushion future barons of business. For pre-medical students, Brown might offer a rudimentary course on diagnostics, for which physiology would be a prerequisite. While Brown graduates' medical school admission rates are nearly double the national average, allowing undergraduates to explore medicine early would only benefit our students. The same philosophy holds for the many Brunonians who enter America's most esteemed law schools.
For budding anesthesiologists and architects alike, Brown should afford students the classroom-based luxury of developing skill sets that are pertinent to endeavors we face following graduation. Am I trying to convert every Applied Math-Economics concentrator into a Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Wharton grad? No. Am I embracing pre-professionalism so that our already passionate students can more rigorously exercise their interests? Absolutely.


Elizabeth Fuerbacher '14 doesn't believe Latin is completely dead and still remembers how to decline nouns. She can be reached at
elizabeth_fuerbacher@brown.edu.


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