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Anybody who has taken History 1 knows that institutions are little pendulums (represented by a piece of chalk on a string) which swing from Security to Freedom. The drop of 257 in History 1's enrollment is ironic proof that the undergraduate curriculum has itself undergone this frying pan-to-fire process in the course of the last four years.
Comparative freedom in the matter of selecting courses and beginning concentration in the Freshman year was granted in 1934. The word gradually got around to Freshman advisers with results that this year amount to a crisis. The regimentation that previously compelled Yardlings to take several courses they cared nothing about has been swept away. Instead ambitious Freshmen come out of the hills and waste no time in getting to grips with the subject of their choice. Courses in French literature or musical appreciation have no appeal for young men bent on becoming engineers or economists and not realizing that many courses in their field are better saved to the year of Divisionals.
Thus the University is faced with a dilemma of the usual two-horned variety: on the one hand it must be reluctant to see the College becoming a group of vocational schools, on the other it must realize that compulsory courses running counter to a student's interest and aptitude are of little or no value.
Various minor changes in the organization of courses might remedy this condition in part. One of the more obvious would be to waive course prerequisites in cases where Freshmen had received advanced work in school, for it cannot be denied that much time is wasted in elementary courses for the sake of complying with the red tape of University Hall. Another solution might be to introduce the type of course so popular in some other colleges, which would go under the name of Civilization 1 and rain culture on the just and the unjust.
Rather than adopt a plan so drastic and generally unsatisfactory as an increase in the number of courses taken by Freshmen and reduction in the number of meetings, more half-courses should be offered in which Yardlings might glimpse at the finer things. At all events, some steps must be taken by University Hall if men are to go forth from Harvard equipped with anything more than shop talk.
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