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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/258

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

law or medicine and differs from them only in that the essential pre-requisites for admission are necessarily much higher.

The assertion, so often made, that young men are deserting the college courses is not well founded. Comparing the college catalogues of to-day with those of thirty-five or almost any other number of years ago, one finds that there has been no falling off in proportion of students taking college training—on the contrary, the number has increased far out of proportion to increase in population. In looking over catalogues of law and medical schools one sees that, among American-born students, the proportion of men with college degrees is much greater than it was thirty-five to fifty years ago.

But whence come the thousands of students taking the technical courses? In not a few instances, no doubt, they are sons of men disgusted with the wide elective or the narrow group systems prevailing in colleges; men, who, desiring to secure for their sons a broad training without reference to their future work, find themselves compelled to choose between narrowness and breadth, between college and applied science. They choose the latter even at the risk of failure to acquire some special forms of culture. In other instances, they are sons of intelligent men of moderate means, who have read addresses by university presidents and have noted the university methods. They have seen that in some institutions the fourth and even the third year were lopped off from the college course and that, in their stead, study for a professional degree was accepted as qualifying for the college degree. It is but natural that thoughtful men, unfamiliar with educational affairs, should accept the opinions of those popularly recognized as authorities in such affairs. They are the more inclined to this in view of the unjustifiably long period required by secondary schools for college and science preparation; and the conclusion is confirmed by the discovery that, in applied science schools of the higher grade, much is taught that is given in the two college years, which all agree are essential. Students belonging to these two classes are increasing in number, and they will continue to increase as long as the college curriculum remains in its chaotic condition; but they are still an insignificant minority. Comparatively few parents know enough to make intelligent choice for their sons, and most men, with means to give their children the luxury of a college education, prefer to have them follow the beaten track.

The overwhelming majority of students at applied science schools belong to a wholly new class. As has been said frequently, the sudden discovery of our country's resources, forty years ago, made necessary new types of training. The old-time country surveyor had laid foundation for lawsuits in important cases; the excellent pit-boss failed as superintendent of mines; the rule-of-thumb graduate from the cast-