Speaking of the new requirements for admission The Nation for January 26 comments, "There is no 'letting down of the bars,' but on the contrary, a simplification without sacrifice that is in thorough keeping with the new insistence upon high scholastic attainment."
The word "certificate" has so often conjured up to the student the idea of a will-o'-the-wisp able in some way to land him in college without any work on his part, that the actual standard of intellectual achievement to be required deserves comment.
In the past, men who have shuffled through a secondary school curriculum based on the Harvard examinations, or worked for a summer with a tutor experienced at "spotting" questions, have been able to enter the Freshman class. On the other hand, students, who have maintained a high rank of scholarship in the work prescribed at a school not primarily fitting its graduates for Harvard, have been seriously handicapped, if not actually deterred from submitting to the test.
The complaint that the "point system" was an unfair test of candidates for admission was certainly well founded. The new system will make it possible for the graduate of any secondary school which maintains a sufficiently high standard of work and includes Latin in its curriculum to meet the examination on an equal footing with a graduate of an admitted Harvard fitting school. Each school may therefore adopt a curriculum fitted to the needs of those not expecting to take college examinations, in fact, with the qualifications mentioned, any curriculum it sees fit, and still be as much a Harvard preparatory school as any.
A glance at the effect of the new system should show that in future the man especially prepared for Harvard and the man who has done equivalent work along other lines will be on an equal footing rather than that the standard for either will be lessened. It will be harder for the "crammed" student with no record of consistent study behind his examination to prove his worth to the committee on admission, than for the man who has done conscientious work without reference to the examination.
The real student from any part of the country will find no difficulty in entering Harvard and the loafer will find it harder, a condition that certainly would suggest a higher level of undergraduate scholarship. If the scholarship within the College is any cullerion of the standard of entrance requirements, it would follow also that the new system would raise the bars a peg rather than tend in any way to lower them.
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