Experimental though the step may be, the decision of the Committee on Admissions to extend the privileges of admission without examination to honor groups of twenty-six high schools throughout the country is a natural sequence of the President's desire to nationalize the university and to assimilate with as little difficulty as possible to them students who-show exceptional ability and promise.
However, any plan which arbitrarily selects one group of high schools is bound to incur the hostility of other high schools, not to mention the numerous private schools which yearly send large deputations to Harvard. The group so favored was entitled the privilege ostensibly because of the work it has done in the field of progressive education; but the problem raised by its selection over others will require delicate handling.
Another pitfall of the plan lies in the fact that several courses can be taken only if a student has satisfied requirements by passing certain College Boards. Confusion on this point can be avoided only if these honor students are assigned Advisors thoroughly familiar with Language Requirements, the courses offered by various departments, and whose special task it is to see to their charges' welfare throughout their first year--a function which the average Advisor is incapable of filling.
Those problems are brought to the fore, not through hostility to the plan itself, but because they must be appreciated and anticipated if the plan is to be successful. At the same time, the Committee's action will be valuable in the long run only insofar as each Department responds to the growing demand for introductory courses more general than technical. In the sciences in particular, a course concerned primarily with the history of science, and a study of the scientific method would be immensely valuable, the more so in a world suffering from a surfeit of loose, wishful thinking.
Accordingly, if the Committee on Admission can be no liberal and progressive as to vote quietly a measure of lasting importance, there is reason to hope that the progressive , spirit like that of spring, will invade the cloistered halls of more than one Department, and give impetus to courses which enable those limiting their study to one field, to broaden their outlook through an understanding not so much of the particular leaves in the various branches of learning, as of the whole branch itself--and above all, of its significance for the modern world.