Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/67

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
63
SMALL COLLEGES

in which instruction can be obtained in almost every subject under the sun. When he looks at the student-roll, he is surprised that so few have been attracted by a feast which promises to be so refreshing. But when he examines the list of teachers, surprise vanishes. If those teachers are competent, mentally and physically, to perform the task assigned in the announcements, it is no longer necessary to hark back three centuries to find a world's prodigy in the admirable Crichton; our land is full of them. These academy-colleges have little in common with the modest colleges of sixty years ago; those were substantial, these are superficial; they can not do well what they promise, for they are without equipment, and much of what they offer has no place in college work.

The conditions are made clear in an official report presented by the supervising board of a leading denomination, which, with rare frankness, gives complete statistics of all its beneficiaries. This board, during several years, has been trying to raise the standard and to eliminate from its list all institutions whose claims to the title of college are based chiefly upon the charter. In some cases it has combined schools, reducing one or more to the academy grade and reserving college rights to but one of the group; in several cases it has refused aid except on condition that no degrees be granted and that the so-called college accept rank as an academy of sophomore or, where the equipment is good, of junior grade. But its pathway is strewn with thorns, for local pride, local denominational jealousies and man's desire for post-mortem glory have enabled some merely town schools to accumulate a great amount of property; the danger of legal complications prevents application of the proper remedy. Yet in spite of the board's efforts, almost one half of the colleges report less than fifty students taking "college courses," and the number taking such courses is from .008 to 40 per cent, of the total enrollment, the higher percentage being in the smaller schools. The owners of these schools point with pride to the fact that a great proportion of their graduates enter the ministry, which they think justifies their existence. It might be well to ascertain what they have done in the way of educating those men, beyond granting them diplomas. They usually proclaim loudly their firm adherence to the old-fashioned classical course—perhaps because the equipment is inexpensive—but the writer has read in a letter from the president of a great theological seminary, that the most serious burden to his faculty is the imperfect knowledge of Greek shown by the students—all of whom are college graduates. The presidents of some of these schools plead that a college with 200 or more students has proved its right to generous support; but they include in that number all preparatory students and those receiving music and drawing lessons as well as