From researches recently conducted by Professor William Lyon Phelps it appears that the day when the main delight of the vacationing college student was light musical comedy is definitely past, Professor Phelps catechized his class in Contemporary Drama at Yale shortly after the spring recess and made the startling discovery that the modern university undergraduate no longer follows in the dreary wake of the t. b. m. Elevated drama is now the mental restorative of the jaded scholar, and girl and music shows and boisterous revues are relegated to the limbo which conceals the Gaiety and the Old Howard.
If Professor Phelps statistics are indicative of a condition which is universal among college students, as is very likely, the man who was murdered some seasons ago for saying that undergraduates were more intelligent today than when he was in college should be awarded a niche in the Hall of Fame as a slight token of apology from a repentant society. His statement, apparently, had some slight foundation of fact.
To just what this mental regeneration is due is an interesting subject for speculation. The upheaval which resulted from the war undoubtedly was partly responsible; but it cannot explain every thing. A surge amount of the responsibility for this comparatively recent phenomenon can undoubtedly be laid to a lessening of the distance which separates the man in college from the world of affairs outside. A decade ago it was quite generally accepted that the four years which the student passed within the precincts of the university were almost as time wasted, if not worse; they gave him curious ideas which he usually needed another four years to lose, and which rendered him quite unable to cope with actual problems.
The advent of specialization with its attendant manifestations, however, has changed this conception to a considerable degree. He who would succeed must now begin serious work almost in his Freshman year, and must spend his summers acquiring practical experience in the profession of his choice, or he is left far behind in the race. He is in close touch with Business Conditions, and his waking moments are ordered by schedule--all of which absolutely precludes any possibility of his attending unproductive musical comedies. If, in the stress of competition, he wishes to break the grinding routine for an hour, he sees "Cyrano de Bergerac" or the Moscow Art Theatre.