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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/535

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531
COLLEGE STANDARDIZATION

least six professors giving their entire time to college work. (2) It must require for admission not less than four years of high-school work in addition to the preceding full work of the grammar school.

(3) It must give a course of four full years before granting its degree.

(4) It must have a productive endowment of at least $200,000. This of course excludes the valuation of land, buildings, equipment, tuition fees or special benefactions.

If this law were adopted and enforced in every state of the union it would exclude five-sixths of the institutions now bearing the name of college or university. Whether such a standard is just or unjust is not for these institutions to determine. It depends partly on the standards of the preparatory high schools that are under the control of the state. No institution should be permitted to assume the name of college whose standard of admission is so low as to allow access for students who have not completed the full high-school course of four years. It depends also on the consensus of opinion among the majority of those who are doing college work in the different countries of the civilized world. The standard of admission just set forth is below that required by the universities in England and on the continent of Europe, and above that which has hitherto been possible of attainment in the southern parts of the United States, where the high-school course is often only three years in length. All standards are the results of agreement, either tacit or formulated, and the consensus of opinion among educators in the more densely populated parts of the United States seems to be that the New York law is not unreasonable.

Most institutions that assume the name of college claim that for the average student four years of college work are needed to obtain a degree. But obviously if the starting point is low the ending point must be correspondingly low, since the capacity of the average student is fairly constant. The claim may be made that examination standards are kept high in spite of low entrance requirements, so that only the best students can expect to be graduated, or even to get through safely in the year's work for a given subject. The present writer once entered a college class in mathematics that had sixty members at the opening of the session, of whom sixteen were taking the subject for the second time. At the close of the session he was so fortunate as to be one of only fifteen who were successfully passed. Of the sixteen who were second-year men seven had failed, and of the forty-four first-year men only six had been successful. The standard of attainment was reasonable enough, but the prerequisites for admission had not been so clearly expressed as to give an adequate idea of the ordeal to which the applicant was to be subjected. If three fourths of a class fail, this does not necessarily mean that so large a fraction of its membership is made up of students who have been unfaithful or of less than usual ability. The amount of teaching may have been insufficient, or the discipline too