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Within the past week, statistics have come from both Princeton and Harvard which show that students prefer to major in Polities and Economics, respectively, at these two institutions. If these subjects are chosen for concentration from purely intellectual motives, and not because it is pleasanter to take a large number of hours in these than in other courses, the obvious inference is that Princeton will produce our politicians, and Harvard our businessmen. Inasmuch as Yale finds English still the most popular subject, she might be expected to produce a merely cultured intelligentsia. That would be division of labor on a large scale.
The vital part of the statistical matter lies in the fact that Economics is the second most popular subject at Princeton, and that it vies with History for the second place here. That Economics should have such appeal as a subject for concentration is a refutation of the theory of our fathers that Economics as taught in college may be interesting enough, but that the scientific ideals are of no use to the hard-boiled financier. Undergraduates would not specialize in something which they considered mere valueless theory.
In viewing this condition, one cannot help but feel that the place for intensive study of Economics is in the business school, and not in the college of the liberal arts. The study in this field must necessarily be limited when pursued as an undergraduate and so could hardly be considered as a substitute for business or night school. Furthermore, the college is primarily intended to provide a broad cultural basis on which to establish the later specialized life work. Through too stern devotion to accounting, banking, and trade, the university man is liable to lose the other intellectual benefits which are, in the main, the important factors in the value of a college education as opposed to a technical one. It is a cause for satisfaction that English and History still occupy the attention of the majority at Yale. Yale News.
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