Cornell is considering a plan intended to reduce the number of students dropped because, in their attempts to accomplish too many great things, they have failed in all. In short, if the plan is approved, there will be no limit placed on the number of activities in which each undergraduate may take part. This limit will be determined by a point system, and allowance will be made for the more brilliant who prove competent to handle more.
Yet even with the allowances for varying capacity, varying ambitions, and the varied demands of different extra-curriculum affairs, such a plan seems dangerous in many ways. There are activities which no scale of points can take into consideration, dances, or the positions necessary for those working their way through, either of which may end disastrously for the careless, although to curb either would be absurd. The amount a man undertakes in college is dependent wholly upon himself. No one else is competent to judge his capacity; and while his own estimate may be wrong the experience gained by success or failure is of considerable value.
Furthermore, responsibility is one of the most valuable aspects of college life. Some rules are necessary of course inasmuch as the home and school training both leave much to the final care of the university. But unless something be allowed to undergraduate discretion the very rules defeat their own ends. Sooner or later a man must take, the reins himself and choose his road; and if the college can by some means advise him without weakening his self-reliance, it is a valuable capacity.
The Cornell plan approaches dangerously the paternal in saying just how much may be done by each individual-- mainly for the purpose of avoiding the waste of the dropped student. In that, too, it seems unnecessary; for with the warning of probation, no man can say that dismissal came upon him unawares. It is doubtful if more rules would reform the student who wittingly drops out, and it is more doubtful if responsibility should be taken from the rest for the few who still lack foresight and judgment.