Since the recent confession and exhortation of Charles Francis Adams, Jr., the great discussion concerning the study of classics has broadened its scope until we are confronted with the question, what constitutes superficiality in collegiate courses of study? The near approach of a final decision as to what shall be the chosen electives for the ensuing academic year causes the student much unsatisfactory deliberation, while the advice which is ordinarily given at this period is even, if possible, of a still more unsatisfying nature. We hear on the one hand the accusation of superficiality and on the other the equally disagreeable taunt of being a specialist. We see one man, confident in the training afforded by the classics and the study of mathematics, elect these studies alone for his college course with the anticipation of emerging from the dust of the college furrow with a brain so beneficently trained and strengthened that it will unable him to grasp and claim for his own any subject to which he may turn his attention. Again, on the other hand, we observe exactly the opposite course pursued. We see a student endeavoring to compass within the time allotted to twelve electives a study of twenty. Despairing of the training afforded by the learning of the ancients and the science of the mathematics he elects a course varying between Spanish I. and Philosophy VIII. We can readily see in each case the cause of the course pursued, but can we as easily say that either is a very wise course?
We do not care to discuss the value of the training afforded by any particular course of study, but we do think that in both instances the true purpose and meaning of a liberal college education is misunderstood. Are we here to prepare for our professions? Then what do the professional schools signify? What we want of Harvard College is not a summa cum laude or a diploma and degree, but the best liberal education that she can afford us. We cannot afford to graduate with the thought that our education is complete. It is only begun. What does "Commencement" mean? We, at best, only can lay at college a respectable foundation upon which to build in after years. Neither specializing nor superficiality will accomplish this. A good, sound, sensible basis upon which we can rely in after life will prove of the greatest advantage.
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