Today 555 members of the Class of 1934 forsake the green banks of the Charles to enter the mad scramble for existence in the merciless money-making canyon of Wall Street, in the alphabetic confusion of the capital, in the dry, dusty helds of the Mid West, or in any of the other places where the chances are reported to be fifty to one for sinking relentiessly into the quagmire of failure. For most of these men the days of play, the days when one can follow his own fancy as long as the Committee of Vigilantes at University Hall does not object, are over. The idealism, which this brief interlude broods in most of its participants, soon will be crumbling away under the strain of supporting families and getting ahead in chosen occupations.
There are three ways in which you can measure the success of these aspirants: first of all, their financial status; secondly, their personal happiness; and thirdly, their constructive accomplishment. While a combination of all three is eminently satisfactory, it is a sad commentary that the least important one, financial, is the last one to be discarded. The last two prove to lie closely related, for real happiness seems to come through the achievement of something worthwhile; happiness by itself is liable to leave a man with rather an empty feeling by the time he is about fifty. Therefore, the wisest course is to devote one's self to a task which he considers honestly worth of achievement. That his enterprise may not seem laudable to the world at large is of small moment for he is the one person that knows frankly if its fulfillment will be worthwhile.
Very few people will dispute these generalities but a scheme must be evolved which the young college graduate can use as the framework of his purpose. There are two things which should be guarded against. Above all he must not go forth into the much-described battle of life filled with the type of idealism which so many speakers are stressing this week. Life will be a bitter disappointment if he does. The college graduates who started the War, the college graduates who brought about the depression, the college graduates who have spent their lives making fortunes unjustly at the expense of others; all these heard the same sentiments when they left college and supposedly, were suitably impressed. Some members of 1934 will undoubtedly be guilty of the same things. And then, so many of our learned confreres tell us today that "drag" and connections have no place in a system which is undergoing such drastic changes. Don't believe them. This is one of the chief ways in which one can get a job today; it is later that one has a chance to prove his worth. Seniors should not be ashamed to make use of their friends and connections if they use them judiciously. Others will if they do not.
This may sound too pessimistic for after all there is nothing more exciting and satisfying than starting off to play the game of life. A man must regard it, however, with a practical viewpoint. The most important thing, which these young warriors must keep in mind are a sense of fair play, an ability to live up to the rules of the game, and if these rules do not seem sufficient, to aid in making new ones. For if men are to live in organized society, they have got to relinquish their purpose when it interferes with the well-being of their fellow-citizens. Nevertheless; even in this field as well as one's own personal life, judgment plays a vital function. A Harvard graduating class is in a more favorable position than many other young men in the country today to score heavily. Certainly there are more chances today to direct one's self into constructive channels, but keeping off the mudbanks on either side requires a code of one's own, which can be acquired only through severe testing. So the members of the Class of 1934 should keep their eyes on the things which they wish to accomplish, making use of practical methods to obtain them, and being ever ready to modify or change those ends if they are honestly convinced that this is the best course.