It must always happen that, with no consideration of the "softness" of courses, some will be chosen by a larger number of students than others, since it is more useful to most fellows to know French than Sanscrit, and Latin than music. Keeping a man from an agreeable and popular course will never drive him into a difficult and unpopular elective, but into another course that will not probably do him as much good as the one he would have chosen had he been at liberty.
The injustice done to those in the course by making it extremely hard is manifest. In the case above mentioned, many had taken the elective who had no great knowledge of the subject, but who expected, by diligent work, to succeed tolerably well; the examination was of such difficulty that most of them failed, and the result will be that during the second half-year they will either overwork or neglect their work, thinking that labor is of no avail.
If enough men take an elective to overcrowd it, (that is to say, either to diminish the benefit of the course, or to overwork the instructor), the proper remedy is, either the addition of more electives in that branch, or, in case the instructor has reason to believe that the course is taken on account of its ease, there should then be an increase the next year in the amount of work done in the course, and a clear statement of the additional work should be put in the list of electives.
Speaking of additional electives, a few words should be said about the number of French courses offered us. French is one of the most popular studies in college, 243 men having elected it this year. There is no other study so generally pursued, in which so few courses are offered. German is elected by 253 students, only ten more than elect French, and there are eight courses in German to only five in French. It is certain, too, that if more French courses were offered, there would be a larger number of students in that branch. It would be pleasant to be able to take our choice of two parallel French courses, as in German, and very beneficial to have an historical course corresponding to German 3.
Let us hope that we may have a larger choice next year, so that 117 men may not be crowded into one elective.