EDITORS HARVARD HERALD: In the Elective Pamphlet (page 26 - 1882-83) the student is advised to choose his elective courses in such a manner that they may from first to last form a rationally connected whole. The faculty recommends, therefore, that at the beginning of his sophomore year each man should deliberately make a plan of his studies, and adhere to this plan for the next three years. Every one knows how hard it is to select one's courses for three years. Of course it is very easy for one to name the courses he would like to take while in college, but unfortunately he does not have a free choice. In the first place he must recollect that he has but three years in which to take these courses, and that he must not overload himself if he wishes to gain the greatest possible amount of advantage from each course. Therefore he is obliged to "weed out" the less desirable courses until he has left the amount of work he thinks he can do with profit in three years. This is one consideration in choosing electives. Another and an equally important consideration is the arrangement in the groups for examinations. Of course where there are so many good courses it is impossible to prevent several desirable courses from conflicting. In fact it often becomes absolutely necessary to give up some excellent course from the fact that it continually conflicts with other courses a little more desirable.
Suppose, for instance, that a man, at the beginning of his sophomore year, expends considerable time and thought in arranging a definite and satisfactory plan of studies for his college course. After having definitely solved, as he supposes, this Chinese puzzle, he happily pursues the even tenor of his way during his sophomore year. He feels perfectly satisfied and at ease concerning his future studies, when, lo! some bright - or rather, cloudy - morning, he awakes and finds a new Elective Pamphlet is born to injure his peace of mind by a change in the grouping of the courses.
His carefully composed "plan, deliberately made and adhered to" (through his sophomore year, at least,) has been completely destroyed. All the courses he had intended to take in his junior and senior years conflict. He is again left groping in the dark, with his courses disarranged. He is obliged to begin anew, after having lost a year, and arrange another plan. It is too late now to take certain courses which he could have taken by a little different arrangement of his sophomore year's work, which he could easily have made had he known of the changes in prospect.
This is the result of the many changes made this year in the arrangement of groups. Some of the changes I will mention. German 3, a course which is a sort of combination of German 5 and 6 of last year, has been transferred from groups X. and XI. to group II. French 5 has been changed from group VII. to II. Spanish 10, in group X. last year, is now placed in group II. Latin 4 (group VIII. last year) is now in group III. Greek 4 is changed from group VI. to V. Latin 9 is now in V. (formerly VIII.) Greek 1, which is similar to Greek 2 of last year, is changed from group VII. to group VIII., Natural History 2, group X. to VIII., Italian 2, group II. to X., and Greek 5 and Latin 7 now conflict. History 8, now in group VII., was formerly in group IX. This course - History 8 - now conflicts with Greek VIII., which two courses I had arranged to take in my junior year. The present arrangement will compel me to change my entire plan of study for the rest of my college course. It seems particularly unnecessary, as the same instructor has another history course (History 6) at the time History 8 is given this year. It would be very easy for him simply to interchange these two courses and replace History 8 in its old group. No one can have made arrangements to take History 6 next year, as it was not in last year's groups, and it was impossible to foresee where it would come. I have no doubt but that there are many more men who had intended to take History 8 who are put out by this unexpected change. The instructor, by making this slight alteration, would confer a great benefit upon many of the students whe have arranged their plans.