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At the time of the inception of the Freshman Tutorial System, official Harvard defined its functions restrictively, ignoring one extremely important aspect. It was envisioned solely as a means of guiding freshmen of above-average ability, who had already chosen tentative fields of concentration, in advanced work for which they might find the time. Thus, Dean's List men for whom the freshman year largely repeated their prep school work would not be "leveled down" by standardization, but would be given an opportunity to express their bent earlier in their college careers.
This view disregards what could be another--and perhaps more--valuable function of freshman tutorial: namely to aid in helping the student to choose his final field of concentration. In spite of the broad outlook afforded by survey courses, and in spite of the availability of advanced courses to selected freshmen, the choice is often made haphazardly. The possibilities of a miss are too great, necessitating subsequent readjustments and consequent failure to capitalize fully on the benefits of the tutorial system. A solution lies in the use of freshman tutorial as a means of helping students to distinguish their aptitudes, and hence of guiding them into the proper fields.
If, however, it is conceived thusly, several modifications are necessary. The concentration fields for freshmen must be made much broader and more inclusive than are those which now exist for upper-classmen. Instead of division into narrowly specialized fields such as physics, all the experimental sciences could possibly be placed under a single heading; or history, government, and economics might feasibly be grouped together. By the aid of numerous excursions into these broader realms, the freshman would be able to choose more intelligently his place of permanent abode.
Also in order would be a drastic extension of freshman tutorial to include at least several more groups on the Rank List. Obviously in this second capacity it benefits the average as well as the honors student. A corollary of this step is the restriction of tutorial reading assignments so that too much extra work will not be placed upon those students who cannot well bear it.
It must be granted, of course, that such an extension is antagonistic to the conception of freshman tutorial as a means of guiding the advanced work of exceptional students. Perhaps, in the final analysis, the institution of these modifications depends upon a decision as to which of the two functions is the more important; and this decision rests upon University Hall. Since, however, the potentialities exist for aiding a large portion of the freshman class in a matter of extreme importance, the second function must be given full and deliberate consideration.
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