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Sheets, Geo M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Vol. VI, No. 1 (October 1908)

Van Hise, Charles Richard
The selection of studies,   pp. 1-4

Page 2

The student takes the studies in the order prescribed by the
   In the university, where there are a large number of subjects
 among which elections are to be made, the problem of the stu-
 dent is not so simple. This is especially the case with students
 who are in the college of letters and science, candidates for the
 A. B. degree. The difficulty of outlining satisfactorily pre-
 scribed courses for the four years in the college of liberal arts
 has led many adopt the unrestricted elective sys-
 tem. This plan is followed at Harvard and Michigan. While
 the plan of unrestricted elections may be advantageous to the
 occasional student who knows what studies he wants and why
 he wants them, it is certain that the great majority of the youths
 when they finish their high school courses are in no position to
 make elections wisely. The freshman knows little of the scope
 of the various subjects, less of their relations, and often has no
 definite future purpose. These facts have restrained the faculty
 of the University of Wisconsin from ever accepting the unre-
 stricted elective system.
   There have been several steps of development from the old
prescribed courses which used to obtain, here as in the colleges.
The faculty has decided that the first year of the college work,
if not precisely prescribed, should be prescribed in general
terms. The student must do work in language and in two of
the three groups of knowledge-science, mathematics, and his-
tory. Also, general regulations prescribe within limits a part
of the work of the second year. Thus the regulations of the fac-
ulty, without making it necessary for a student to take any one
subject, do make it necessary for him to go over a certain
breadth of work.
  These fundamental regulations are supplemented by another.
Not later than the beginning of the junior year, the student se-
lects a major study which he must continue for not less than
twenty semester hours and in which he is to write a thesis.
  Thus the aim of the faculty is clear. Each student should
obtain a reasonable breadth of training and a. thorough training

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