The Class of 1969 faced the draft head-on, unlike the graduating class of the year before. Newly released statistics show that those who claimed that the draft interfered with their graduate plans declined by almost half from 1968 to 1969.
John B. Fox Jr. '59, director of the OG and CP, said many of the 45 per cent of the class of 1968 who felt their plans were limited by the draft were confused by the new laws.
"In 1968, the change in draft laws hit us like a ton of bricks. Men panicked," he said. "In that year over 17 per cent made plans to enter into military service."
Changes in draft regulations in 1968 eliminated the previously automatic graduate school deferments, limiting draft exemption to students in medical school, theological school, and certain areas of graduate study in science.
Less than 10 per cent of the Class of 1969, however, planned to enter directly into the military. "By 1969, people felt less distorted in their plans about the draft," Fox said.
Before the change in draft regulations, about 30 per cent of Harvard College graduates planned to enter non-professional graduate school: Since then, the number has dropped to 10 per cent.
"The central fact of graduate planning is that everyone tries to plan around the selective service system, and human beings can be extremely adaptable," said Fox.
Many are now substituting draft-exempt teaching for graduate study in education. Since 1967, the number going directly into teaching has risen from 24 to 138. Graduate study in education has declined from 35 to 20 in that same period.
Rather than entering business schools, students are choosing to take draft-exempt jobs. Over 80 took this alternative in 1969, in contrast to only 50 in 1967. The number of men attending business schools has declined from 76 to only 30.
The change in draft laws has affected individuals rather than institutions. In response to the financial pressures of fixed costs, graduate schools are changing admission policies to favor women.
"Most Harvard graduates, however, do not eve plan on going to non-profession al graduate schools unless they are pretty sure of getting through without being drafted." said Fox.
About one-third of all fellowships are not being used by the first recipient because of draft fears.
The only number that has not stabilized is of those undecided about future plans. That number has doubled since 1967 and continues to increase.
"Conventional professional careers do not seem as attractive or as reasonable choices as they used to. The mood and values of this country's young people have obviously changed," Fox said.
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