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At first glance, Brown's academic ethos and pre-professionalism might seem incompatible. Lucas Husted '13 highlights a compromise whose virtue I myself questioned. Yet upon further consideration, I reaffirmed my conviction that our University would be an ideal host for classes that expose undergraduates to pointed concepts they will face in their careers. Beyond our scholastic liberty, I would argue that Brown students are most distinguished by our robust passion for our interests and our drive to deeply explore those affinities. Hence, furnishing students with more pre-professional options would only help accelerate our journey into the occupational realms that we Brunonians commonly lead and expand.
I want to note that pre-professional does not mean anti-intellectual. Learning concepts applied on the job does not signify a total rejection of the theoretical underpinnings of those ideas, nor does it preclude students from questioning the material they absorb. Even in my securities regulation class at Wharton, which was "pre-professional" insofar as we examined specific statutes related to cases such as the lawsuit over Facebook's founding, the class' professor, Andrea Matwyshyn, entertained thought-provoking discussions concerning the applicability and jurisprudence of financial regulations. We also hypothesized the fading relevance of existing SEC mandates regarding high-frequency trading. You might think this example only constitutes "deep thought" in the minds of Gordon Gekko-aspirants, but it nonetheless illustrates how pre-professional courses are not devoid of the intense scholastic inquiry that Brown encourages. Furthermore, to argue that pre-professionalism in and of itself signifies cutthroat competition is a misplaced attack on the educational approach. Brown's classes are often curved anyway, so a latent competitiveness does exist. Given Brown's aptitude for attracting talented, dedicated professors and motivated, inquisitive students, I do not doubt Brown's prospects for success in the pre-professional realm.
Paxson's term "constructive irreverence" is part of Brown's DNA, and I am not advocating its temperance. I love Brown's respect for individualism and the curricular liberty we enjoy. I believe the open curriculum should remain intact but should include more opportunities to take specialized classes. If anything, this expansion would sharpen our interests and add another dimension to our already multi-faceted characters. Would taking corporate valuation, constitutional law or physiology drastically diminish your chance to read Pliny with classmates? I think the answer is no.


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