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The Three Years Course.

Views of President Warren of Boston University.


A short time ago there appeared in the Boston Post a letter from President Warren of Boston University relative to the shortening of the course at Harvard. Nearly three years ago President Warren had predicted that the next great struggle in defence of higher education would be fought on the abbreviation of the A. B. course from four years to three. As his prophecy had come true he wished to state certain reasons why the course should not be abbreviated. His first arguments had to do with the present low standard of requirements for admission to Harvard. To quote his own words: "In consequence of their flexibility, and of the provision for maxima and minima. many a student now enters Harvard College who cannot pass the entrance examinations at Yale, Brown, Amherst, Wesleyan and similar colleges." For all this no proposition has been made to increase the requirements for admission. He argues that since in the new course as well as in the old a student may go through college and get an A. B. without knowing ancient or modern languages, mathematics, history or philosophy, the Harvard degree will become the least significant in New England. He further argues that the proposed change is nowhere demanded. American students, (even those at Cambridge) do not want it; neither do the Harvard alumni, or authorities of other American colleges, or the preparatory schools, or any religious bodies demand this change. The movement is self originated at Harvard. In answer to the argument that the age of Harvard students ought to be reduced, he suggests that even now the men are none too old for the self-government that is placed in their hands, or for a thorough understanding of principles of philosophy, ethics, and sociology. In case the growth of higher education in America has not kept up with that of the population (a fact which President Warren doubts), is the best way of remedying the evil that of turning out on the world a lot of superficially educated men? Harvard has always taken the lead of other colleges in matters of education, but if she turns her reforms in the wrong direction, the other colleges will cease to acknowledge her leadership.

Very soon after this letter was written another letter appeared in the Post from an instructor in a preparatory school. He does not pretend to answer all of President Warren's arguments; he devotes himself mainly to the point of the alleged easy requirements for admission to Harvard. He says that he cannot find the "provisions for maxima and minima" of which President Warren speaks. He finds that there are four groups of subjects allowed at admission examinations and that the differences between these groups have mainly to do with Latin and Greek. Otherwise the requirements are pretty rigid. As to the statement that "many a student now enters Harvard who cannot pass the entrance examinations at Yale, Brown, Amherst, etc.," the writer of the letter says that at his school the preparation for no college is so severe as that for Harvard. He also says that many a tutor will engage to fit a boy for Brown. Amherst or any of the "similar colleges" in one year less than he will engage to fit a boy for Harvard or Yale. He ends by citing an instance of a student who had passed the admission examinations to Boston University, but who decided to go to Harvard, studied another year, and then failed to pass the Harvard examinations.

President Warren wrote a short answer to this letter, merely reasserting his statement that the admission examinations at Harvard were easier than in other colleges, and protesting against making the A. B. (Harv.) worth 75 per cent. of its old value.

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