Like all institutions that make any attempt to limit their own bigness, the fields of concentration, with their exclusive-sounding quotas, have been criticized for placing obstacles in the way of would-be concentrators. The cause for this complaint is purely superficial, and the limitation of the field has so far failed to be in any way a barrier to the freedom so necessary in choosing a field of concentration. Friendly influences and external pressure being what they are, the university often recognizes an obviously bad choice when it sees one, and in such cases the student is gently led off onto another path. Aside from this forgivable regimentation, last Spring no student in good standing was refused admittance to his chosen field of concentration, which should dispell the fear of a rigid and arbitrary system.
The clasticity of the quota system as it is now organized is witnessed by the number of men who either last Summer or in the Fall had had a change of heart with regard to concentration and were permitted by the various departments concerned to mend their mistakes. The need for such generosity would to a large degree have been obviated if the proper choice of a field of concentration had been made in the first place. When the present Freshman Adviser system, with its absolute incapacity to guide the undecided student along the paths most advantageous to him, has been overhauled and brought up to the pace of Harvard progress, the burden of such last-minute admittances will be some extent lessened.
Since the University has made no effort to freeze into a permanent mould the relative size of the departments, there is no cause for complaint about the harshness of the quota system. Many departments have already increased their quotas, bowing to popular demand, and it is hopeful that similar reorganization will constantly take place in accordance with current preferences. The quotas are set mostly for administrative purposes alone, and the Freshman in good standing who has the conviction of his choice need have no fear of the specter of a departmental lockout.