|By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:16 am: Edit|
Son seems most interested in schools without a core cirriculum. Can any of you recommend options that fit this category (aside from Brown).
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:19 am: Edit|
Amherst, Vassar, Wesleyan. All have either no or very minimal core/distribution requirements.
|By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:20 am: Edit|
Not true about Wesleyan. S had a surprise in his last semester, which took three weeks to fix.
|By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:20 am: Edit|
UVA Echols Program
|By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:35 am: Edit|
Dartmouth, No core curriculum. Distribution requirements.
Williams, no core curriculum
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:59 am: Edit|
Thanks for the correction, Marite. I remember reading their course catalog and it sounded like the "distribution requirements" were really only recommendations. But I certainly defer to you on this one!
|By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:15 am: Edit|
This leads to a query to Momsdream:
Is your S against having a structured curriculum built around a core curriculum or general distribution requirements or specifically a core curriculum?
There is a bit of a difference between Chicago and Columbia's core curriculum and Harvard's Core curriculum, which is actually more like a distribution requirement. Although the Harvard core curriculum is limiting, its scope is large enough to compare with distribution requirements at most LACs. But general education requirements distributed in different disciplines are still different from the no core curriculum of colleges such as Brown and Vassar.
So you have a continuuum: No requirements-general education requirements (aka distribution requirements)-loose core curriculum (where students can fulfill the requirements bby choosing from a list of courses)--strict core curriculum (where the list of required courses is more limited).
|By Achat (Achat) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:37 am: Edit|
Swarthmore got rid of primary distribution requirements this year. hence, I assume no core curriculum.
|By Cangel (Cangel) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:39 am: Edit|
"Core curriculum" is a kind of academic curse phrase these days, but Marite's correct, it doesn't necessarily mean the same thing to everyone. Some schools that proudly say they have no core curriculum, actually have extensive distribution requirements that function as what some students would consider a core curriculum. Other schools, and I think Amherst is one, may have no requirements, but the advising system works to encourage students to take a range of classes. Often wanting no core curriculum is really a math/science kid wanting escape from those stupid literature courses or a reading/writing kid escaping math.
Personally I think some degree of discipline is a good thing, but your mileage may vary.
|By Achat (Achat) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:40 am: Edit|
I apologize, the paper says they will phase it in. Sorry, I wasn't accurate.
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:46 am: Edit|
Achat -- the article says there will still be general distribution requirements, which are apparently different from the primary distribution requirements that are being phased out (or phased down). I found the article confusing, though, probably b/c the jargon is unknown to me, so I may be misreading it.
|By Achat (Achat) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:54 am: Edit|
Hm...you're right. I am not familiar about the jargon either. Out of my element here. I thought PDC were the same as distribution requirements.
|By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:59 am: Edit|
"Often wanting no core curriculum is really a math/science kid wanting escape from those stupid literature courses or a reading/writing kid escaping math."
Sometimes this is true. However, there are other benefits or attractions of an open curriculum such as the kind at Brown or at Smith. My daughter was not seeking that out and would have gone to a school with distribution requirements, though likely would not have been attracted to schools with a strict core of required classes such as at Columbia. Anyway, one thing about an open curriculum is that the student is choosing what he/she wants to study and is really invested and motivated and interested. Often schools like Brown find that the students are happy students because they have made choices and thought about what they want to do and it came from them rather than from up high. The deans at Brown have said that they find that students NATURALLY end up with "distribution" or a wide range of exploration across disciplines. While it is true that a kid could take all humanities type stuff if they wanted to, they find that most kids really do opt for an exploration across the liberal arts. They also encourage this. But the kids have the freedom to drive their own education and there are benefits to that. My own child, a freshman at Brown, while not being told what she had to study, actually has a course load that is pretty evenly distributed among the subject areas. It is just that she chose her options and none were required. She is invested in these courses. I realize some kids would avoid hated subjects but overall, I think many who are in an open curriculum do indeed have balanced courseloads. And there is something to be said about choice and about individual academic needs. Even within such a system, kids do get a fine liberal arts background. It takes a certain kind of kid to be self motivated to undertake the ownership of this process. For my child, this was a good fit, even though she was perfectly content to go to a school with distribution requirements. But the profile of the kind of student who thrives at a place like Brown, really does fit her.
|By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 11:09 am: Edit|
>> on seems most interested in schools without a core cirriculum.
I would ask him why?
Most colleges and universities have a very simple distribution requirement. Out of 32 courses, the student must take three courses in math/sciences, three courses in social sciences (poli sci, history, econ, pscyh, soc.), and three courses in the humanities (literature, languages, arts, music, etc.
In my opinion, any student who is not going to achieve this minimal diversity, with or without requirements, is not getting a broad-based education and should probably consider a vocational or trade school instead of an elite college or university liberal arts undergrad program.
IMO, when kids throw this "course requirement" nonsense on the table, parents should challenge them on it. Get out the coursebook, go through the requlations, and ask them "what courses are you running from?"
This "course requirement" nonsense is right up there with the blue security phones, the great food in the dining halls, and the "no TAs" in admissions tour gobbledegook. The poor high school kids don't know enough to even know what "distribution requirements" mean. They just think it sounds bad...like "malaria" or "middle aged".
|By Achat (Achat) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 11:44 am: Edit|
It doesn't take a student to do this. Witness middle-aged mom here (moi) who confuses it with "malaria".
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 12:14 pm: Edit|
Well, my kid was definitely one of those who wanted to avoid math/sci requirements! It is all humanities, all the time. And this was a kid who took four years of science in HS (including AP classes) and four years of math (including AP Calc) and got 5s on the AP exams, so it's not a matter of lack of ability in those areas.
I personally would prefer some sort of distribution requirements, but in the end I don't think it's a big deal either way. It does make it easier to double major. FWIW, Brown claims that some huge majority (80% or something) of its students take a courseload that would satisfy the distribution requirements at comparable schools. I also don't think that lack of distribution/core requirements necessarily means the kids at Brown are happier than the kids at say Chicago or Columbia. Unless you major in engineering, what you take in college as an undergraduate doesn't matter that much, IMO.
|By Cangel (Cangel) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 01:57 pm: Edit|
Susan, from what you've posted about your daughter, I'm certain she would have the mature judgment to realize the value of a well rounded education. Rhonda, I'll bet your child will end up with a stray math or science anyway. In practical terms, I think most of the kids who go to selective colleges, as Rhonda says, will end up taking a balanced load of classes.
It s just my own feeling that there are certain subjects that a well educated person should study on collegiate level, in order to call themselves well educated, but my list is idiosyncratic,and out of step with the times.
|By Dudedad (Dudedad) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:01 pm: Edit|
Rochester has only one required first year class (English).
|By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:05 pm: Edit|
Here's UVA's rationale:
"Echols Scholars are free from all “distribution” and “area” requirements within the College of Arts and Sciences. These include foreign language, natural science, non-western perspectives, historical and social science, and English composition requirements. The reason for this exemption is twofold: first, most Echols Scholars have already met many of these requirements through AP or dual-enrollment college credits before enrolling at the University. Indeed, in a 2003 study, we found that nearly 80% of Echols Scholars graduated with these “requirements” satisfied, even though they were not mandated to do so. Second, when the Echols Program was created in the 1960s the Faculty Senate strongly believed that Scholars should be given the freedom to pursue their academic interests without first having to satisfy certain preliminaries. For this reason Echols Scholars are encouraged to take specialized higher-level classes from the outset of their matriculation."
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:15 pm: Edit|
Cangel, I wouldn't be so sure of that! But as someone who took a LOT of math and science in college, including fairly high levels of math, I can tell you that it doesn't matter that much, I remember virtually none of it.
I've told my D that I do not care what classes she takes. It's up to her to decide. She is double majoring, so that does limit the available "free" courses she can take anyway. But I know from reading CC that parents here were a LOT more involved in the app process than I was, so are likely to be more involved once they're in college, too, I suppose, so I may be the exception here.
|By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:32 pm: Edit|
my daughter attends a college with a fairly high level of distribution and core requirements including a class that is taken by all freshmen ( HUM110) that is 1.5 semester credits ( time and 1/2)
By requiring the same class to be taken, not just one from column A and two from column B, the school can be assured that all students have similar levels of core knowledge.
Her 2ns choice school had zero core requirements, and didn't even require certain classes for degree, just number of credits. If she had attended that school I probably would have been involved in recommending areas, however at her school with the core curriculum and definite requirements for degree, I don't recommend anything at all, there isn't much room anyway.
I didn't recommend courses for high school either. Her school was so small that after the 5 required courses the room to choose was whether to take two art classes or one and a study hall.
|By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:34 pm: Edit|
I changed my college major as a result of a distribution requirement course, and my D did too, and my S wouldn't have taken any humanities at all without the requirement--and turns out to enjoy philosophy and economics.
I believe so strongly in a core curriculum and distribution requirements that I told the kids they had to apply to schools that had such requirements. Brown was specifically off the list for that reason (although we have a good friend who teaches there). (My other restrictions were: no schools on the top-ten party list (ever) and no schools that accept 100% of the applicants.)
Many kids think they know what they want---but it may because they've haven't explored much.
|By Cangel (Cangel) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:49 pm: Edit|
Rhonda, I remember my science, but math ?! What is 7X8, I always have to think about that one.
The Echols Scholars program described the most legitimate argument I've heard for no distribution requirements - kids who have had rigorous AP courses in calculus or history probably don't need to sit through Cal I or Am His 101, but I really wonder about the quality of many AP courses. Plus the level of discussion and thinking in a religion class at Davidson, or poli sci at Swat or Directed Studies at Yale has got to be higher than any AP, otherwise what will all that money go for? (slightly sarcastic HA!)
I won't tell my daughter what to take either, but I hope she has the good sense to take advantage of her opportunities.
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:49 pm: Edit|
Dmd -- I'm curious whether you and your D were math/sci majors who changed their majors, or if you were more humanities/soc sci majors who changed to math/sci majors. Just wondering, thx.
|By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 03:01 pm: Edit|
>> The Echols Scholars program described the most legitimate argument I've heard for no distribution requirements - kids who have had rigorous AP courses in calculus or history probably don't need to sit through Cal I or Am His 101,
That argument doesn't hold much water, either. Swarthmore's distribution requirements are pretty typical. You have to take 3 semesters of humanities, 3 of social science, and 3 of hard science. However, AP credits and/or previous college level courses can be counted towards those distribution requirements.
As a practical matter, the distribution requirements will, at most, impact the course selection of one or two semester courses out of the 32 required for graduation. It really is a non-issue for the vast majority of students. But, they hear "requirements" and think "freedom" and don't even know why they would value "no distribution requirements" when it comes to real-world course selection.
|By Achat (Achat) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 03:31 pm: Edit|
My son wanted a core curriculum and applied to Columbia and U Chicago. He did not get into Columbia and did not choose U Chicago for other reasons. But at Swat which does not have a core, he is emulating a core curriculum by taking courses that he thought were Columbia's core's component. He has decided to be a humanities person, is reasonably good in sciences and he plans on taking some math/science as well.
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 04:08 pm: Edit|
ID -- I don't think all colleges allow use of AP credits toward distribution reqts anymore.
Also, if that's Swat's distribution requirement, I realized that my D through AP credits would end up being short only one course of meeting them anyway. I guess I was envisioning distribution/core requirements as being more onerous than that.
|By Shelly147 (Shelly147) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 04:17 pm: Edit|
Johns Hopkins actually has very lienent distribution requirements. You just have to take a certain number of courses outside your major area, designated by a N, S, H, Q or E (Natural science, social science, humanities, quantitative science, or engineering). For example, say your major was Neuroscience, which is classified as a natural science. You have a certain number of credits that have to be taken outside of the "N" range of classes, but you can take them in whatever OTHER letter classification you want (so, for example, trying to avoid the humanities, you could just take a lot of engineering and quantitative stuff)
|By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 05:44 pm: Edit|
In response to the earlier question: he's trying to avoid the strict core requirements...not necessarily distribution requirements. He likes Columbia....but was turned off by their core requirements.
We've talked some more today and he better understands distribution vs. core.
And, I'm happy to say...the list is now complete, along with the ED ap. Today was son's HS' internal deadline for ED submissions to the GCs. I hadn't asked what he had decided. He completed an overnight at his ED choice last week, which helped with the decision (it was debate night and he watched the debate with tons of UPenn students at a wildly popular campus-area pub).
Anyway, the list DOES include 2 core cirriculum schools. I was just looking to see if there was a reason to reconsider the list.
|By Elleneast (Elleneast) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 06:24 pm: Edit|
"He likes Columbia....but was turned off by their core requirements."
Your son was very wise to do his homework. One of the reasons that my second-year daughter chose Columbia was the Core (thus far she has really enjoyed the classes) but she was amazed that some of her classmates arrived at the school without having read about it in depth. When a current student from my daughter's high school contacts her for information it is the first thing that she suggests they do. The Core needs to be viewed as really contributing to a student's education.....and bonding in the notion that every Columbia College undergrad reads the same books and studies the same topics. (It is my understanding that the engineers take an abbreviated Core).
My daughter is extremely happy at Columbia but would be the first to say that it is tough to be a pre-med, fit in another non-science major, possibly take a semester abroad and also fulfill the Core requirements. It can be done but it is logistically hard. At another school this could be scheduled easily, but then again, one wouldn't have had the opportunity to take the Core.
I would suspect that Columbia annually loses a handful of students to transfer after completion of the first year because they went for "Ivy" without doing their homework, rather than going for "Columbia University in the City of New York".
|By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 07:13 pm: Edit|
Rhonda--I changed from physical chemistry to biochemistry. Doesn't sound like much of a switch, but it really was--different department, different emphasis. (I also did a minor in writing.) My D went from French or Linguistics (she wavered) to literature (with a theatre side that came about as a result of long-running ECs). Of course, she may change to something else tomorrow.
|By Sac (Sac) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:31 pm: Edit|
Elleneast, I absolutely agree with you. My math/science son called today from Columbia to tell me he loves reading Herodotus and is enjoying his LitHum class, which is going to see a Greek play together this week. I'm glad that the core so far is meeting his expectations (He says he's heard some LitHum horror stories).It's clear that the core is central to the Columbia experience.
Somewhere I remember reading a discussion of the few colleges left with a real core curriculum, the places with stiff distribution requirements like Yale and Harvard, and those which have few or no requirements. Could it have been on the Harvard site with its discussion of curriculum changes? Marite, do you know if the curriculum review talked about this issue and named specific colleges?
|By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 12:16 am: Edit|
add Hamilton College - no core, no distribution requirements.
|By Marite (Marite) on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 12:42 am: Edit|
Now that I've done some investigation into requirements at a few colleges, it seems that Harvard's Core Curriculum is probably no more restrictive than the distribution requirements at a LAC because the selection of courses available to fulfill each Core area requirements is so large. In that sense, the Core Curriculum is a misnomer, compared to Columbia's or Chicago's. As well, these requirements are no more numerous than, say, MIT's. What gives the impression of restrictiveness is the combination of Core requirements and concentration requirements. MIT's, Princeton, Yale's concentration requirements are fewer than Harvard's, I think.
Harvard likes to compare itself to peer institutions. These are usually other Ivies plus institutions such as Stanford, Chicago, Berkeley. I remember vaguely reading references to Chicago's and Columbia's core curriculum but, from reading the Crimson, it appears students want more choice rather than less. My understanding is that Harvard is moving toward a distribution requirement and reducing concentration requirements to make it easier for students to study abroad.
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