Science Derives the Balanced Equation
Life a Grind for the Undergrads, But a Grist Mill for Advanced Men
Thomas Wolfe once said that only a graduate student could appreciate the advantages of a Harvard education. Many members of the M.I.T. community have said the same about the Institute--so many that recent years have seen proposals to abandon undergraduate education altogether. The administration does not concur, but it does consider the Graduate School the most important factor in M.I.T.'s professional program.
The growing complexity of modern technology has forced M.I.T. to adopt a new attitude towards the amount of education required for professional scientific competence. While some men can be successful with only a Bachelor's degree, the administration feels more and more advanced training is necessary to keep up with technological change. The undergraduate will gain a broad background of scientific training, but only a graduate student will be able to develop these fundamentals into unique skills and ideas.
If life is a grind for the undergraduate, it is a grist mill for the advanced student. Already equipped with some scientific training, the grad student finds Tech more a job where he is an apprentice than a school where he is a learner. For him this is no 9-5 day, 40-hour week proposition. The chemical engineers and spectroscopists may work around the clock figures on a dial, and the night lights of the architectural drafting room are a beacon that can be seen as far down Mass. Ave, as Central Square.
Over 240 U.S. colleges are represented by the graduate student body, and 163 more from abroad. Harvard with 49 alumni, has the largest number next to the Institute itself with 607 and Annapolis with 75.
Strangely enough, the closest thing at Tech to House life as Harvard knows it has developed in the 450 man graduate dormitory--The Graduate House. Once a hotel, and still equipped with the long corridors and slatted doors of its former grandeur, the monstrous brick building offers its residents Claverly-sized rooms, a magnificent view of the river front, and an esprit de corps. Dances, intramural sports, and a keen sense of belonging flourish in the Grad House.
How did this happen? Every resident will give chief credit to Avery Ashdown, a kindly professor of Chemistry who has lived in the House for many years. His influence is so great that years. His influence is so great that students and alumni chipped in for a portrait of him.
And last fall President Killian, the Provost, several deans and professors, and members of the Corporation held a day-long session with the Graduate Student Council and Graduate House representatives. The topic: In what directions should the Graduate School move?
Several weaknesses were depicted and agreed upon. There should be more student-faculty contact on an informal basis. Graduate students, too, should have opportunities to study humanities and social sciences. Graduate and married student housing was insufficient. The M.I.T. physical environment could do with humanizing.
The administration was sincere in its desire to consider these suggestions, and some of its decisions should be disclosed in forth-coming committee reports.
While the graduate program at M.I.T. is intense, it is--as the Institute itself--constantly in flux, trying to define its goals and scope without rigidity. Life may be harried, but the student himself has a chance to participate in the process of definition.