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The Effects of High Standards.


The Boston Post of February 9 contains an interesting editorial on the effect of the gradual raising of the requirements for admission which has taken place in recent years at the leading American colleges, notably at Harvard. We quote the most suggestive paragraphs:-

"The changes of standard have developed the fitting schools of high grade into what are colleges in all but name, and they have raised the average age of college graduates to such a point that candidates for the professions can not complete college and professional training at an earlier age than 25 or 26.

"If this process of screwing up the requirements were to be continued for half a century at the rate which some of its friends advocate, the graduates of first-class medical, divinity and law schools would be confirmed old bachelors long before they reached active professional life. Moreover, the graduates of the best fitting schools would by that time be as well equipped as was many a man of an earlier generation at the proud day when he received his degree of A. B. Even at the present, there are many graduates of these high grade fitting schools who elude the college altogether and enter the professional schools without the academic degree, without the traditional sheepskin. By their act these men are declaring that they are already in effect bachelors of art and ready to enter upon the struggie for the second degree. In 1887-88 fifty-two such men entered the Harvard Law School; in the same year the number of graduates of Harvard College who entered that school was also fifty-two. No wonder the dean of the college is in favor of shortening the college course.

"Harvard being chiefly responsible for the raising in standards and being today just about a year ahead of the average New England standard of admission to college, is not unnaturally the first college to feel the ill effects of the short-circuiting process between the fitting and professional schools.

"President Eliot in his recent report stated that the college faculty was wrestling with this problem, and it is said that the prevailing opinion among the professors in all departments of the university is favorable to an abbreviation of the college course from four years to three. It has also been pointed out that the prospective financial loss of a quarter of the tuition fees, which would follow if the course is reduced by one year, is the most serious bar to early and courageous action.

"Either Harvard's high standard is right and should be defended, come what may, or it is wrong and should be modified. The demand of the professional schools to have men graduated younger will not be met by keeping the standard where it is, and cutting off the freshman year. Moreover that process would sever Harvard's connections with the fitting schools and leave her hanging to the stars. If the professional schools are to be satisfied by any action which the colleges can take, it is the senior year which must be sacrificed. After all, a Harvard junior is supposed to be fully as well equipped as the average American bachelor of arts, and by conferring the degree of A. B. on the present juniors, Harvard would not bind herself to give the A. M. for anything less than her present requirements. If money is an object, there seems to be no valid reason why Harvard should not create a new freshman year below her present one.

[Continued on Fourth Page.]

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