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Husted '13: Should Brown embrace pre-professionalism? No.


I would like to start by saying that I do not oppose the idea of pre-professionalism. I think that it is critically important to train individuals for the "real world," whether this means careers in business, law, medicine or anything else. I staunchly believe, however, that Brown is not the place for this - outside of the standard set of pre-professional programs that prepare students for graduate study.
Simply put, a pre-professional atmosphere is antithetical to what makes Brown so appealing, namely, our open curriculum and our non-competitive environment. These noble attributes of our community do not just emerge from thin air. They exist because we, as a school, strive to "serve the community, the nation and the world by discovering, communicating and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry." These words might not be familiar to many of you, but they are the central tenet of our mission statement. If our school promoted, instead, a commitment to making students employable at all costs, something would seem just a little wrong.
To those of you who are good at math, imagine if your high-school teacher had let you use a calculator to do all of your work. Your method of solving problems would resemble the "real world" much more, but your math skills, and your theoretical grasp on problem solving would not be nearly as good. Similarly, Brown should arm you with the tools to understand the world for yourself, not just the ability to follow directions.
Given the amount of money people pour into their education, the pressure to seek high-paying jobs after graduation becomes even greater. But colleges would do well to continue to promote the arts and the humanities. As Claire Gianotti '13 pointed out in a column this week, these fields put ideas in context and help people think more broadly ("A humanist's call to arms," Sept. 10).
While challenging conventional ideas isn't a skill that Morgan Stanley values in its applicants, Brown would fail you if it didn't teach you how to formulate your own opinions. If we change our courses to fit the needs of employers, and thus move away from our spirit of open inquiry and discovery, then we pay the price of having big corporations engineer our curriculum. Forget Latin and Greek, we will soon learn the finer skills of how to be an effective desk monkey. Brown is a wonderful place, after all, and I would hate to see it offer classes that amount to little more than training programs.


Lucas Husted '13 doesn't hate the other Ivies as much as his first two columns of the semester indicate. He can be reached at lucas_husted@brown.edu.
 


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