were once plainly put, he would be compelled at the outset to abandon the illusion of "missionary work." The missionary idea presupposes the poor lad with a keen thirst and capacity for knowledge to whom the college doors are closed. This pathetic image has long ceased to represent any substantial reality. If any such lad is still unprovided for, a hundred college presidents would be delighted to make his acquaintance. As the case stands to-day, it is the colleges who are competing for students and not the students for admission to college. Like the life-insurance companies, the colleges are expending a large part of their energies in securing "new business," and their criterion of progress is the life-insurance criterion of numbers. If the catalogue shows no increase of attendance over last year, the year is counted as lost; and in the matter of attendance everybody counts for one, no matter what kind of a one. "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few "—nothing could be further from the truth at present in the field of higher education. So insufficient, in fact, is the supply of ripe fruit that many of the laborers are gathering stalks.
Nothing better measures the active demand for higher education—for education, and not for college degrees—than the prevailing academic standards. A few years ago out of a class of forty in formal logic I conditioned ten. A colleague, commenting upon the fact, remarked that "the mortality was rather high"—in which, of course, he was correct. Yet, as I felt called upon to say to the class (many of whom were students of law), if they had been defending themselves by their own logic in a trial for their lives, not half had escaped being hanged. And had they been making shoes, not half the product would have been fit to wear. Think of a factory where the workers receive full wages if sixty per cent, of the product is marketable! Or of a physician who makes a false diagnosis in four cases out of ten! Yet sixty per cent, is the usual academic standard; and, as this standard is commonly interpreted, a student receives credit for the course if he answers correctly six questions out of ten—not test-questions, be it noted, but "fair" questions. Similar standards prevail in other matters. Many colleges put up with a laxity of attendance which is unheard of in an office or factory. If it be asked why academic credit should be earned more cheaply than dollars and cents, the answer must be in terms of supply and demand: the supply of student material which would satisfy the standards of fitness that prevail elsewhere is insufficient to meet the colleges' demand for numbers.
In the presence of these conditions, "missionary work" becomes a mere euphemism for academic inflation. And nothing has been more fruitful of corruption in academic life than just this policy of inflation. Nothing has contributed more to lower the college in public esteem or to obscure its purpose as the promoter of serious thinking. In