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The Not-Quite Sophomore


The Advanced Standing Program's chief virtue consists of permitting the well qualified student to tailor himself a more challenging program by modifying or eliminating course requirements. While the student who achieves advanced placement in three courses is given sophomore standing and need take only one of three lower level general education courses, the student with two advanced placement credits is considered only a well prepared freshman and cannot reduce his general education requirements.

The University feels that the advanced standing sophomore should have his general education course load lightened so that he can graduate in three years without excessively burdensome requirements. Since the freshman with advanced placement in only one or two courses will study the full four years, the Administration reasons that there is no ground for relieving him of any general education demands.

Yet the student with advanced placement in two fields, or perhaps even one, would benefit by being able to skip a general education course. Advanced placement signifies that college level work has been performed in the accredited subject. Making a student take a general education course in the same area thus often causes him to repeat material already covered and prevents him from exploring more advanced subject matter. The freshman who enters with advanced placement in European History, for example, would be reviewing much duplicate material in most of the basic social science courses, and because of a shortage of time for later elective opportunities might have to sacrifice a more stimulating study.

The practical difficulties in easing the rules are not insurmountable. The chief drawback would be that a freshman unsure of his major would not know if his advanced placement credit entitled him to escape a general education course. But while allowing the advanced placement freshman to skip a general education course the University can require another course in the same area. A freshman would then be advised that he can satisfy his general education requirement in his advanced placement field either by a lower or upper level general education course or by any departmental course in that area. The student with advanced placement in English can use, therefore, the course time he obtains when liberated from a lower level humanities requirement to study more literature than he could otherwise.

Besides stimulating the well prepared student, the option of skipping a general education course would make advanced placement itself more appealing to the incoming freshman and the Harvard prospect in secondary school. At present, unless the student has three advanced placement courses, his credits do him little good. He can, supposedly, take courses not regularly open to freshmen, but with a glib tongue he can talk his way into many upperclass courses anyway. Advanced placement also makes later course reduction easier, according to the Advanced Standing Office; however, the qualified and responsible student can often get course reduction without previous advanced placement.

A liberalization in the requirements for the advanced placement student would therefore give him more freedom and added intellectual stimulus, and yet still hew to that University ideal of requiring some intellectual nibbling from all fields.

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