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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/538

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534
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

lege student is now the beneficiary of organized charity, and the self-sustaining college is a thing of the past. The larger the number of students the more unprofitable is the work pecuniarily, unless the growth in attendance is accompanied by corresponding increase of endowment to balance the excess of total annual cost over receipts from tuition fees. In ordinary business the condition is reversed; the larger the scale the greater are the profits possible.

From the popular business standpoint the success of a college is more readily measured by its number of students than by the quality of its work. So urgent is the demand for numbers that it is not uncommon to see the need for increased equipment disregarded, the library prevented from growing and remaining stuffed with out-of-date rubbish; and the professors overworked. As soon as the teaching ratio exceeds a dozen the need for increasing the teaching force becomes imperative. This can not be done if the endowment is too small to permit the payment of living salaries to competent assistant professors. The most ready resource is to impose the duty of teaching upon inexperienced young holders of scholarships, or to grant the remission of tuition fees to selected undergraduates on condition that they perform the function of assistants in the laboratory, the library, or the office of the language professor. If the efficiency of these undergraduate assistants were proportionate to their pecuniary needs, or to their willingness to do their best, such procedure might have some justification. These undergraduate names are recorded, both in the register of students and in the faculty list, and on dividing the number of students by this nominally enlarged faculty number the alleged teaching ratio is brought down so as to present the appearance of efficiency. The public is misled and the college made to appear stronger than is warranted by the facts.

If objection is urged against what has just been set forth, the ready reply is that the only way to impress the public and to attract benefactions is to grow rapidly and let the public know it. The resort to cheap labor in employing inexperienced undergraduates for assistants, and including them in calculating the published teaching ratio, is to be regretted; but it is locally deemed a less serious evil than any check in the rate of growth, even if the endowment fund remains stationary. It is urged that this course is necessitated by the sharpness of competition for students; that catalogue statements must be interpreted liberally, because competitors disregard their printed entrance requirements; that many preparatory schools do not give four years of high-school work, and hence the colleges must adapt themselves to this condition. Some school principals reply that they are anxious to give the fourth year of work, but can not retain their pupils because the colleges admit these as special students; and articulation between school and college, though most desirable, is thus impossible. The inevitable