Harvard Takes the Lead.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University has given its approval to the report of a committee, appointed last December, which recommends the establishment of general examinations for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in most undergraduate departments of instruction.
The action of the Harvard faculty, practically certain as it is to be followed by similar action in other institutions, cannot fail to have a good deal of influence upon the character of undergraduate training during the next few years. Whatever the merits of the elective system at its best, it has not in most cases insured the pursuit of a well-balanced program of studies by the individual student. Too early specialization at the cost of fundamental general training, or conventional choices at the suggestion of fellow students, fraternity associates, or upper classmen, or an aimless following of the line of least resistance, have been too often the results of freedom.
The requirement of a general examination at the end of the undergraduate course in the field to which the student is supposed to have given special attention ought to go far toward making the college course what it is often quite mistakenly said to be, a preparation for life. It ought to enable the University to affirm, with greater confidence than has hitherto been possible, that its graduate known his general subject, and is also, in respect of it, an educated person. It ought to improve the quality and widen the range of instruction, if the point of view of the professor and that of the student are not to be hopelessly divergent. It ought to help redeem the summer vacation, now so striking an anomaly in an age of conservation. It ought to stimulate a more generous reading of standard books, outside of the class-room assignments, in the field in which the student is concentrating, and to add to the value of the tutorial system. --The Nation.