Today a familiar little volume makes its annual vernal visit to Cambridge. The catalogue of courses was, in the past, a sometimes fascinating, sometimes forbidding, but always necessary booklet. This year, as an added attraction, the Faculty has decked it out in a shiny new spring outfit. First of all, course numberings have been entirely rearranged in order to get rid of the hodgepodge of numerals, letters, and combinations of the two that cluttered up all previous listings. The new system is a model of simplicity: as the numbers go higher, the courses become more advanced. Most of the old, traditional freshman courses have the old, traditional designations, and most of the upperclass courses have merely had a "1" (one) pre-fixed to their former titles.
But something else, and something even more helpful to the undergraduate searching perplexedly for a fourth course, has been included. For the first time in College history, practically the entire body of offerings open to undergraduates is given a paragraph or two of descriptions, not just a title, number, and meeting hour. These notes vary in length and in quality: some are clear and helpful prospectuses of things to come; others are still little more than cryptic titles. But every lecturer had the opportunity to say whatever he wished to about his course, and all but a few have contributed something informative. Unfortunately, five departments seem to have felt that mere names and numbers were enough for their courses. But these are chiefly such fields as Fine Arts and Romance Languages, where course tables are rather definitive. Government, Social Relations, and the other fields that most needed further descriptive data list quite adequate information.
Only one more slight addition needs to be made in order to make the catalogue an almost perfect preview of coming attractions: brief explanatory notes appended to those courses, such as Comp. Lit. 35, which will be given next year but not in 1949-50. With that added aid, students could plan course programs more easily for two years ahead. In any case, the Faculty's decision to bring its once-mysterious catalogue up to date is an encouraging sing of progress--a sign which is paralleled by its other wise decision to abolish compulsory hour exams, attendance, and mid-term grades. Things seem to be looking up.