Harvard University would look skeptically on admission applications from students finishing high school in two or three years, Fred L. Glimp, Dean of Admissions, stated yesterday.
If other Ivy League schools are equally skeptical, their policies could easily "set a match to the tinder box" of Superintendent Calvin Gross's recent proposal to initiate gradeless high schools in New York City, Glimp said.
The plan calls for an eight-hour school day with no set course load. A student would finish a subject when his teacher was satisfied that he had mastered it, thereby allowing bright students to complete the normal four-year program in two or three years.
Look for Maturity
"The University would consider all applications from such students," Glimp said, "but we would be very careful to look for clear evidences of maturity." Glimp attributed this uneasiness to Harvard's unhappy experiences with the Early Admissions program under which Harvard has accepted a few exceptional high school students after they completed their junior year.
Edward T. Wilcox, Director of Advanced Standing, agreed that "the experiment has not been statistically satisfactory." "The great percentage of dropouts and failures has made us cautious," he said. He emphasized, however, that it "did not behoove a college administration to take an a Priori stand on the high school program," but that it should instead look at the individual, "keeping in mind the fact that our luck has not been good."
Glimp and Wilcox agreed that the New York program has potential, but they called the possibility of grade acceleration "unfortunate." They believe that the importance of social as well as academic development has been clearly demonstrated by the success of the Advanced Standing program.
The comparative results suggest that the high schools should "put more emphasis on college-level courses rather than on sending the boy on to college sooner," Glimp said.
While such schools as the University of Chicago and Stetson have large and apparently successful Early Admission programs, Harvard's experience is not unique. Many schools, including Yale, have similar programs, but actually admit very few students under them. Harvard is pessimistic "but," Wilcox added, "we are not opposed to acceleration although it hasn't worked here."