During the last ten years the College Entrance Examinations have steadily become more and more firmly established in their office of educational scapegoat. But, like the New York officials whom Judge Seabury has exposed, the academic St. Peters have shown no disposition to be ousted from their jobs by mere verbal denunciation. A committee of the Harvard Board of Overseers, in urging that Harvard discontinue entirely admission by the Old Plan, has now made a definite proposal with real possibilities for improvement.
The greatest direct benefit from a change in the college entrance plan would certainly be to the schools. Free from the imminence of college entrance examinations for all except the graduating class, schools could devote their undivided efforts toward the development of live and intelligent minds rather than well-stored memories.
To avoid making the senior year, which should be the most fruitful intellectually, a continuous cramming period, the school record and the scholastic aptitude test ought to count as much as the actual entrance examinations. The type of papers set is important. An acquired technique is helpful in taking any test, but the New Plan examinations ought to be so devised as to minimize the importance of such a technique and of a simple display of memorized facts.
The responsibility of the schools under a scheme such as that which has been suggested is greatly increased. For the task of real education is as far removed from drilling on certain rigidly set material as is the work of an artist from that of an accountant. With the complete "New Plan" in force, however, the schools at all events would be deprived of a long-standing excuse for much arid and unfruitful instruction.
Harvard has already gone far in considering the school records of candidates for admission. The Board of Overseers committee failed to recognize the extent to which the University complies with its suggested system of entrance requirements. But in order to insure the realization of the potential advantages of the New Plan, the University ought to discontinue the Old Plan procedure. If Harvard leads the way, the other colleges will in all likelihood hasten to send the Old Plan examinations system to the Limbo for which it has long been destined.