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With the mid-years nearly over, many students feel dissatisfied with their records and wish they had given more time during the past term to preparation and study. Abundant "ifs" are bandied back and forth, and a still larger number surge up in one's mind. For, after all, there is great satisfaction in having done a course thoroughly, and this is a satisfaction which few College students have tasted to the full.
There is a minority of undergraduates to whom the routine of study is a positive joy. But for the majority, studying remains a chore; something to be turned to as a last resort under the stress of compulsion. A thesis or examination is like a disagreeable pill which one avoids taking until the last moment, and then swallows with one gulp and forgets as soon as possible.
Studies have now little more than a superficial relationship to one's college life and thoughts. With whom is one to discuss one's calculus or ancient history? There is only the hasty give and take with a fellow-sufferer on the eve of an examination. For classroom only" is labelled in large letters on almost every subject in the course book.
This state of affairs is deplorable, because it is not inevitable. There is at present manifest in the University a very considerable interest in intellectual things. The many discussion groups, the small informal gatherings for an exchange of ideas, the numerous outside speakers who are brought here formally or informally, give abundant proof that students are interested in other things than athletics or society. And when men who have now no apparent interest in their studies reach the law school, they talk "shop" from morning to night.
Harvard has already done much to make the classroom have a more direct bearing on life. The tutorial system and the general examinations are an evidence of what the faculty is trying to accomplish in this direction. There are some courses now which do arouse discussion and thought. But much remains to be done. Every effort should be made to have a more personal discussion and relationship between instructor and student. And in lectures the subject must be shown in its bearing on modern-day problems. But the chief burden now lies with the undergraduates themselves. Unless studies become the fashion we shall continue to be besieged with "ifs" at the end of every examination period.
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