The attack of Edward W. Berry, the "degreeless Dean" of Johns Hopkins, on the American College system, which appears in the current number of the American Magazine, is not a new one. The points that he raises are almost universally recognized as needing adequate reform and have been well threshed over time and again. His chief suggestion based on the time wasted in a four-year curriculum, is that the universities should teach the student only that which interests him and which equips him for his chosen profession; specialization should begin after the second year.
The efficacy of abolishing the last two years seems doubtful, to say the least. Most educators agree that the average sophomore cannot reasonably be expected to have a thorough enough preparation or intellectual background to begin a study of his selected profession at that time. It is only during the junior and senior years that he is properly able to correlate the general knowledge he has acquired with his specialized field.
The policy of studying only those subjects which fit the undergraduate for his career losses sight of an important reason for a university education. If college were merely an apprenticeship for business it is just as well to supplant them with up to date high-geared schools of specialization turning out standardized products. The College does, or should, put into the world men with a well-rounded knowledge of one subject and broadened by a liberal acquaintance with others. The ultimate value of their education is as much an ability to view their profession in correct relation to their lives as it is to be a success in that profession. Despite Dean Berry's criticism, the university still has a place in the world of education as long as it believes that the theory of knowing everything about something as well as something about everything is a good one.