Today’s Harvard Alumni Wouldn’t Have Been Accepted As Students in 1643

Written by Wes Walker on April 8, 2014

You’ve heard, I’m sure, the condescending tones people use when describing the ignorance of past generations? You know, those “morons”?

What do you suppose would happen if you put today’s so-called best and brightest up against the typical student going to Harvard back in 1643? Leaving aside changes to the available body of knowledge (especially technological), and focusing more on competency and mental discipline, how do you think they’d rate?

Waller R. Newell tells us, in “What Is A Man? 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the art of Manly Virtue” that today’s crowd would have it pretty tough. To even get in the door, you’d need a command of both Latin and Greek.

Have a look:

The Rules of Harvard College (1643)

1) When any scholar is able to understand Tully or such like classical author extempore and make and speak true Latin in verse and prose, suo ut aiunt marte, and decline perfectly the paradigms of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue: let him then, and not before, be capable of admission into the College.

2) Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, “to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life,” John 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.

And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him, Prov. 2:3

3) Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in theoretical observations of the language, and logic, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing “the entrance of the Word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple,” Psalm 199:130.

4) That they, eschewing all profanation of God’s name, attributes, word, ordinances, and times of worship do study with good conscience carefully to retain God, and the love of His truth in their minds.  Else, let them know, that (notwithstanding their learning) God may give them up “to strong delusions,” and in the end “to a reprobate mind,” 2 Thes. 2:11, 12; Rom. 1:28

Numbers 5-8 go on to describe, among other details, attendance in lectures, leaving campus, bad company, and consequences for violations.

Know any Harvard Grads? Could they get in under the 1643 standards?

You Might Like