Popular Science Monthly/Volume 82/April 1913/Some Random Thoughts Concerning College Conditions
|SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS CONCERNING COLLEGE CONDITIONS|
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
AN ever-increasing proportion of the community seems to be convinced that every youth, male or female, on American soil, has a natural right to collegiate and even to professional education at nominal or no cost. That so many have been deprived of the opportunity to acquire a college degree is one of the saddest of the world's many tragedies; good men and women, having exhausted the joy of conscious usefulness in the ordinary philanthropic operations, find new zest in contriving methods whereby those excluded from college attendance may secure the coveted parchment with a minimum of expense and inconvenience. Their efforts to increase the roll of "American nobility" find ready support on the part of college authorities, who are always prompt to aid any good work which promises to increase the enrollment. This popular conviction surprises no one who is familiar with the history of American colleges. In the early days of this country, when schools of any kind were few, clergymen were compelled to educate their successors or to have none. Those devoted men extolled the honor of their profession, they cultivated respect for knowledge, they awakened ambition in young men as well as in their parents; and they undertook the labor of instruction when candidates for the ministry presented themselves—many times taking them to their homes and sharing with them their scanty fare. No one imagined that any credit was due for this self-denial and added labor. The work had been, so to say, thrown in; it had cost the teacher nothing; he had parted with nothing material and the teaching had produced nothing tangible; at most, he had utilized only spare hours, which, in any event, belonged to the people who paid him a small stipend. In fact, the parents of the young men thought that the loss sustained by deprivation of their sons' services entitled them to credit equally with the pastor; and they were not far wrong, for the education was to fit the son not to gain a livelihood, not to gain higher social position, but to enter a profession which at that time meant little more than poverty and an opportunity for service. When population became denser, pastors opened academies to increase their incomes, but the shrewd people succeeded in turning this to their advantage; the writer has seen a "call" offered more than a century ago, in which the right to have an "academy" was noted as an inducement. When these "Latin schools" grew into little colleges, parents and students alike knew that requirements of duty were fulfilled by payment of a small fee; the instructors were mostly clergymen who eked out their incomes by serving neighboring churches. It is said that of the first 110 colleges in this country, 100 were founded with training for the ministry as the prime object. The importance of education received full recognition, but teaching as such was not regarded as a serious matter; it was merely an incidental part of a minister's work. The belief prevailed that if a young man was willing to accept an education some one ought to give it to him.
Until 75 years ago, college teaching in the greater part of this country was controlled by clergymen, members of an ill-paid profession. Even now a large proportion of our college and university presidents are ministers, and there are many in prominent places who maintain that higher education should be under clerical supervision. The tradition continues that teaching like preaching is, or should be, altruistic work and the salaries are graded accordingly. Some time ago the president of a great university blamed this lack of appreciation on the materialistic tendencies of our time, casting all on that convenient beast of burden, commercialism. But this is without reason. Failure to appreciate the work of college professors is merely a survival of the hard materialism of early days, when pioneers struggled against a harsh climate and gained their farms by felling the forest. Genuine appreciation of intellectual work comes only in an age like this; it comes with advancing civilization, when men have been freed from bitter contest with nature, with the physical comfort found only in commercial communities, such as Athens, Babylon or Thebes, in the olden times, or the great commercial centers of modern times. Our business men recognize the power of pure intellect; they pay its possessors almost fabulous salaries; they endow colleges and universities in the hope that intellectual training will enable the coming generation to begin where they have left off and to accomplish greater things. The blame for wretched salaries and constantly increasing overwork can not be laid at their door. The scale was fixed originally by clergymen, the one class against which the vague charge of commercialism can not be laid. If the happy day should ever come when lay members of college boards awake to the sense of their responsibilities and gain personal knowledge of the kind and amount of work done by college professors, the complaint respecting small salaries will be at an end.
Conditions have undergone great change since the days of the "Latin schools." When population was sparse, when little money was in circulation, though the people lived in comfort, the modest college, with few teachers, small fees and narrow curriculum, was necessary if the professions were to be recruited. But those conditions have passed away finally; commercial intercourse is complete and the small farmer handles more money than did his wealthy predecessor of a century ago. College is sought no longer only by those destined for the "three learned professions"; young men of all aims, and a multitude with no aims, are enrolled in the classes; it has become the thing to own a diploma. The faculty no longer consists of five or six men, each supposed to be familiar with everything in the curriculum but, in all reputable colleges, it is composed of teachers who have spent years in special preparation for the chairs which they occupy—a college professorship is no longer regarded as a haven of rest for men who have failed in some other walk of life; the curriculum has been broadened in all directions and the cost per student has been increased by several hundred per cent.
In spite of the changed conditions, colleges, and to a great extent professional schools, are still regarded as closely allied to charitable institutions. The presidents of starveling academies with a college annex go about the country pleading the cause of their poor self-denying professors; colleges are exempt from all ordinary taxation; they maintain costly fields for semi-professional athletic contests to which admission fees are charged; they are permitted to reserve large parks around their buildings, even though the reservation be to secure an unearned increment. This conception that colleges are charitable institutions does comparatively little injury to the community, but it does far-reaching injury to the staff of instructors in that the salaries are adjusted on the altruistic basis. It is felt that the work is so lofty in aim and so important to the human race that no consideration of pecuniary reward should be permitted to corrupt the worker. Not long ago a western association of college teachers resolved that, in their opinion, the minimum salary for a professor should be at least $1,400. The president of one of the colleges asserted that such a minimum would be absurd; that, if the rule were enforced, a very great proportion of the colleges west from the Mississippi would be driven out of existence. If that should be the result, devout lovers of true education ought to establish at once a chain of prayer meetings to bring about the enforcement of that minimum.
But it is very difficult to believe that young men or young women have an inherent right to receive higher education at another's expense. If one can earn such education, it is his right; if another choose to earn it for him, no one may criticize either giver or receiver. All recognize the parent's duty to give to his child every advantage within his means, even at the cost of great self-denial, for he brought that child into the world without its consent. But the responsibility of others ceases at an early stage in education, far below the requirements for college entrance; it extends no farther than the community's protection demands. A wise community will go beyond the limit of its absolute responsibility and will afford opportunity to acquire enough knowledge to let the youth rise above mere muscular labor; but even this is still far below the demand, for college or professional education is in no sense essential to the attainment of wealth, of political or social distinction or even of great usefulness. There is no more of real charity in endowing a college than in endowing a great hospital, open to rich and poor alike, at nominal or no cost, on the basis of first come, first served.
For colleges are conducted on that principle, as are some dispensaries which make no investigation respecting needs of applicants, and the "charity" appeals for aid in proportion to the amount of business done. No properly equipped college can subsist on the fees as now arranged; each simply doles out alms to rich and poor alike, presenting them in many cases to men who would scorn a gift in money. Too often, a college in appealing for more endowment is asking wealthy men and women to aid it in giving the college course to the children of other wealthy men and women at a fraction of the cost. The condition is worse in the case of professional schools, in which the fees should always cover the cost; the more so, since there is no pressing need for more lawyers, physicians or even clergymen. In this, there is no criticism of those who endow professorships or free scholarships, provided always that they do so wisely. Scholarships should never be given, they should be earned in competitive examination. A professorship should be endowed so generously as to make the salary attractive to ambitious men who have been accustomed to comfortable surroundings; if the income be so small as to be attractive only to those who have served an apprenticeship in poverty, the gift is injurious. Teaching is not the only function of a college; the professors should be investigators also; the man who does not make original studies becomes a dealer in second-hand knowledge, a mere lesson hearer; whatever his salary may be, it is enough. Up to thirty years ago, a stream of contributions to knowledge flowed from the colleges; a great part of the country's advance, intellectual as well as physical, is directly traceable to that stream. But, during later years, the importance of increased enrollment and the necessity for accommodating the increasing number of students without increasing the expenditure or the fees have overshadowed all else; the efficiency system of the factory is applied, the hours of teaching have increased in many cases to beyond those required in the public schools; so that college men of the present generation have neither time nor energy to do such work as was done by their predecessors. Any unrestricted endowment gift which may be utilized to provide an additional number of low-priced instructors so as to accommodate an increased number of students at cheap rates is destructive.
And here one touches the real disease affecting American colleges. There has been a gradual lowering of the actual, not professed, standing during the last twenty-five years. Constantly increasing enrollment is, for most college presidents and most college trustees, the only proof of success. Canvassing for pupils is as much part of the college plan in some portions of the country as drumming for customers is in a wholesale business house. Of course, no such vulgar conduct is countenanced by the older institutions, which never send their presidents or special agents on such errands. They utilize students as wandering minstrels, who appear as the blank college or university glee club; they have trained bands of student gladiators to contend in intercollegiate contests and they do not discourage the custom of impressing a great part of the student body as "rooters" for the team. Even the great universities do not think it undignified to advertise the attractions which they offer in college or professional schools. In small colleges, the president often announces his annual or semi-annual canvassing tour as systematically and unblushingly as did the commission salesman of 40 years ago. In larger colleges, the annual tour of the president, during which he makes the round of alumni clubs, is a fixed part of the program. He is not scouring for students, but in his addresses he dwells lovingly on athletic successes, on the pecuniary gains during the year, on the remarkably democratic life of the students; he extols the great advantages offered by his college and urges the alumni to prove their loyalty by spreading the facts broadcast and by giving some money to make matters "more so."
The ingenuity of the canvasser and the exigencies of his concern lead some perilously near to something more than mere inaccuracy of statement. The latest achievement is calculation of the proportion of college men recorded, in "Who's Who." The statistics are correct, but the deductions are imperfect. No note is made of the fact that the plan of the American "Who's Who" leads the editor to select chiefly men whose occupation presupposes college or university work. A search for truth would have led not to "Who's Who" but to biographical catalogues of college alumni. That study might have led to discovery of conditions on which the canvasser would have been more than unwilling to enlarge. Certainly, he would have come to wonder why it is that "Who's Who" is so small a volume, as there are so many thousands in this country who own college diplomas.
The presentation is uncandid, for it is intended to convince young men and women that some magic force insuring success resides in the college course—which is not the fact. The college professor is no alchemist to change dross into fine metal; a gymnasium can not give legs to the man born without them; no more can the college professor give mental power to the one who has it not. Men are born as unequal mentally as physically and not all can gain material advantage from college work, though there are few who can not obtain a diploma somewhere. The elements of success are innate, their combination is complex; without them a man can not succeed, with or without a college course. A college professor accustomed to study his students can make reasonable forecast of their future by end of the sophomore year, if he know their home surroundings. Mere success in college studies means nothing of itself for the future; one valedictorian disappears at once after graduation while another quickly becomes a power for good or for evil. A fellow with low grades throughout startles professors, whose work he detested, by becoming a great man.
Not every young man should be urged to go to college; entrance may be the first step on the road to hopeless failure. The fact that a man is willing to go to college, even the fact that he is willing to endure hardship to secure an "education," is no reason of itself why he should have the opportunity at another's expense. He may be very earnest, but he may lack capacity, or he may have grown up amid surroundings which have dwarfed or stiffened him so that he can not receive much benefit. Such men or women should not waste their time in college. The writer makes this assertion feelingly, for a long procession of such failures passes before him, as he reviews his forty years of college teaching. Earnestness is no evidence of capacity; willingness to endure very serious inconvenience may be evidence only of willingness to follow lines of least resistance. Four years of self-denial at college may be far preferable to four years of hard work on the farm or in the shop. One may remark, parenthetically, that a vast amount of sympathy is wasted on men who work their way through college as though they were a superior type of the race. No man deserves any special credit for undergoing hardships in order to secure what he believes will yield great returns. The gold-hunters of the Klondyke did that and asked neither praise nor sympathy. The men who struggled to make their way through college and who proved in after life that they made that struggle with clear purpose for the future, ask no consideration and challenge the world to accept them for what they are worth. But our land is full of lawyers working as petty clerks, of physicians without practise, of clergymen whom no one wishes. They are embittered against the unappreciative world, which ignores the struggles they made to secure an "education" and insists on taking them at its own valuation. Had it not been for cheap tuition, college canvassers and boards of aid, a very large proportion of these men would not have gone to college and might have led a comfortable existence in some occupation for which they were fitted.
In all frankness, one must concede that the college of to-day does not fit a man for anything—it does not even train him to do clear thinking for himself. In early days, the curriculum was utilitarian in the severest sense of the term. Latin and Greek were learned as languages because they were to be used. Those languages were, so to say, the vernacular in divinity schools. The writer's grandfather was accustomed to assign a lesson of twenty or thirty pages for discussion on the next day, and the students were expected to discuss the theology, not the Latin construction. One can not repeat too often or too emphatically that Latin and Greek were the all-important elements of the curriculum because they were to be utilized, just as arithmetic has its place in primary instruction. The incessant chatter, which one hears now, about the intellectual strength gained by study of the classics would have excited derision on all sides in those days. When Latin and Greek lost their utility, American colleges should have seized the opportunity to remodel the curriculum throughout; but the opportunity was neglected and the curriculum became a series of compromises between the old and the new, developing at length into aimless election or narrowing groups, the one encouraging shiftlessness, the other tending to weaken the reasoning power. College officials were roused to indignation several years ago by criticisms offered by two prominent business men; the outbursts in some instances were so violent that one might suppose that these philistines had invaded a holy of holies. But one must be judicial. Much of what those critics said is inaccurate, having been accepted on information and belief; but that which they stated as of their own knowledge was true and is true—and too many of the statements were made as of their own knowledge. Every college professor, whose observations extend beyond the walls of his classroom, knows that the criticisms contain only too much that is true. The aimlessness of broad election and the narrowness of groups are destructive.
The able president of one of the best American colleges is reported to have said:
The concluding phrase, "yet too keen to be deceived," must have been penned by one who has forgotten his student days. It will be read with delight by college graduates and will give new sense of security to undergraduates. This example of admirable English and inspired imagination has been of much service to canvassers for so-called colleges and has received more than favorable comment in several addresses. It has been the theme of many a commencement oration and has given zest to many a baccalaureate sermon. But, as presented by its author, it is defective. If he had said the "ideal college," no exception could be taken to the statement; it would be absolutelv correct. But the reader, acquainted with actual conditions, finds himself commenting involuntarily on some of the expressions. If one read records on sporting pages of the great dailies, he will soon discover that the great subjects are athletics and that the broad teachers are professional coaches, who receive larger remuneration than that of the professors. If he read addresses of college presidents at alumni gatherings and consult the columns of college papers he will find little reason for change of opinion. Nor is he likely to find anything different if he look in other directions, though he may gain enlightenment respecting the minor groups or special interests.
A leading metropolitan daily published once a week two pages of news calculated to bind alumni to their colleges—all reference to athletics being avoided. The communications, many of which carried earmarks of official sanction, were examined during several months. Barely 9 per cent, of the space dealt with the curriculum, increased facilities for study, with the work of professors; aside from the incidental references to such matters, the space was devoted to information respecting glee clubs, society politics, college theatricals, glorification of the democratic spirit among the students, the peculiar advantage of the college over its rivals, with not infrequently a more than casual reference to athletics. In comparatively few instances is anything recorded which would lead a wholly uninformed reader to suspect that college is a place for study—and most of those references are not from colleges but from technical schools. If one consider the important place which these interests occupy in the mind of so-called students, and if he add to them football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, boating, swimming, gymnastics, as well as daily, weekly or monthly publications, he will feel convinced that for a great part of the students none too much time remains to be expended or, as some college boys would say, wasted on study. He will be confirmed in his conviction when he observes that intercollegiate contests are not interrupted by such matters as reviews or approaching examinations. The college course need be little more than leaning against college walls for four years—a simple luxury. The opportunity to acquire knowledge and intellectual training is offered, but students are not compelled to accept it or to leave. A man must be a dullard or an idler indeed who can not gain the passing mark by incidental study and by reasonable attention during recitation hours. Frankly, there is no sense in showing surprise or irritation when business men, demanding 98 per cent, efficiency for promotion, designate college work as a four years course in the science of shirking. The absurdity of the conditions appeals to the professional jester, the "student" has displaced the mother-in-law and the politician.
Some prominent universities have informed the community that the college course is not so important as some good people imagine. A decade or more ago several institutions decided that the fourth year in college is unnecessary and agreed to accept in its place, as counting for the degree, the first year in medicine, law or theology; and now comes the startling announcement that work of similar kind is to be accepted in some cases for the third year also. Fifty years ago, the medical course required two years; now it requires four; but the bachelor degree and that in medicine can still be secured in six years as they could fifty years ago. The writer offers no objection to this, as medical study requires work, but such open confession of the degeneracy of college work was hardly to be expected.
Business men are censured for lack of appreciation because they hesitate to employ college-bred boys, but this is unjust. The college graduate has heard so much about the advantages of an "education" that he expects to find a scramble for his services as soon as he waves a diploma. Without loss of time, he discovers that, in so far as business affairs are concerned, his sojourn within college walls has given him little, it has fitted him for nothing and that it has unfitted him for much. Not long ago, some of the New York dailies had columns of letters complaining bitterly of the miserable pay given to college graduates in business offices. Certainly the pay was small, so very small as to suggest that the complainants would have been employed better in self-examination than in writing letters. There is no reason why a business man should pay more to one incompetent clerk than he does to another. Graduate or non-graduate, that is a matter of indifference; the most efficient man receives most; the graduate must begin where others begin—at the bottom—for, at the outset, all are alike ignorant of business affairs. One must concede that college life does not tend to make business men. The college code of honor would not be tolerated for an hour in a business office; from time immemorial, cheating in examinations has been regarded as justifiable to avoid failure, though cheating to gain honors has always been looked upon as base. In the former case, only the faculty is swindled, but in the latter, injustice would be done to a fellow-student. In a business office a man must do his work thoroughly, no 60 per cent, is a passing mark there. Even the class room atmosphere is not always good. Too many college professors know little of the world outside of their community and the utterances of their favorite newspaper or magazine. They have acquired, subjectively, many and serious convictions respecting the moral condition of the community, chief among these being the inherent corruption of commercial life. The student absorbs the doctrines and goes forth burdened with the responsibility of eliminating the crimes, which he is soon to discover are no more prevalent in business than in professional life, being merely the outgrowth of poor human nature. The constant endeavor after "broader fields of usefulness" does great all-around injury. The anxiety for a constantly increasing number of students, instead of for high quality of work, compels frequent and wasteful public appearance of presidents and professors, that the college may become known to those who do not read the sporting pages of great dailies. The importance of a college education is a staple for editorials in religious journals. Inventive genius is strained in the effort to discover new methods of doing good. One university boasts of 5,000 correspondence students and another of 4,200; others have reached the status of boasting, but without giving details. It has been announced that, by correspondence, one may easily complete the first two years of the college course. Some prominent universities have admitted that the last two years of the course are unimportant; others are endeavoring to convince the community that college attendance during the first two years is quite unnecessary. If the chief purpose of college attendance be to gain a diploma, one must acknowledge that they are all quite right. Students enrolled in correspondence have not reached the dignity of a place in the catalogue, but they need not feel discouragement; correspondence schools, like the summer schools, can not be ignored, and soon the enrollment in some American universities will rival that of medieval Italian universities.
The example of larger universities has not been lost upon small colleges, for they, too, recognize the great importance of extramural work. The writer has just received the bulletin of a small co-educational college, which includes in its scope a college, an academy, a school of pedagogy, a school of music and a school of art. The college curriculum is divided into the proper number of groups, so that the student may specialize promptly with a view to future work. The professors offer from 15 to 31 hours a week in the first semester of the college, which might be regarded by some as a reasonable requirement in the way of work, especially as it appears to be supplemented by duties in the academy. But this is clearly a mistaken opinion. The institution is "planning to bring college instruction, with college credit, to many who can not enter the college halls." Saturday classes, evening classes, correspondence work are offered. Affiliated instruction is proposed for communities which members of the faculty can not reach; high-school instructors, ministers and others of the locality will be in charge of the classes and college credit will be given. Popular lectures by members of the faculty on lyceum and platform occasions, Memorial day, Sunday-school associations, etc., are available; and the college offers lyceum courses of five entertainments for $100 a course, including two concerts, an entertainment in the way of recitation and singing, and two lectures of popular or semi-popular character. "Write us your needs." Finally, it is announced in bold type that full college credits will be given and that the fees will be moderate. One must not fail to note that the athletic teams of this college rank high; there are less than seventy male students, of whom 60 per cent, are freshmen and partials. Truly the scope of college work is expanding; dressmaking and folk dancing have attained the rank of university studies and, judging from past occurrences, there is every reason to suppose that they too will find their place along with other studies in literature and pure science among qualifications for the Ph.D. As that degree has now an actual commercial value to the possessor, the college should make its requirements not too severe.
But one can not contemplate this amazing increase in the number of candidates for degrees without apprehension. It was not without reason that a foreign visitor recently spoke of the American as "education-mad." A note of alarm was sounded in France several years ago, because there were 36,000 students in the universities and professional schools; it was thought ominous for the republic's welfare that so great a number of Frenchmen were looking forward to professional life, to abstinence from physical labor: how much greater is the danger here, where colleges claim an attendance nearly ten times as great; the greater proportion of the students are looking forward to teaching or some profession. Kinds of degrees are multiplied to suit the capacity or lack of capacity of the hoped-for students; hundreds of Ph.D.'s are put forth each year with narrow specialized training, most of whom expect to be employed in colleges where they may promulgate their a priori doctrines respecting conditions and remedies. Manual labor is despised; the youth of the land are flocking to the cities, which are already overburdened with the class not "fitted for anything in particular"; the trades are passing into control of aliens who exploit the country. They give opportunity to radicals for denunciation of a cold-hearted community which permits them to wallow in wretchedness and in a few years they return to their own land with a competence.
The wide-open door to higher education is not just to the community. Many writers appear to hold that the salvation of this country depends on education of all the people and college canvassers find in this a noble text. But secular education is no panacea for evils, public or private; on the contrary, it may aggravate them. Intellectual training in no wise affects the moral sense. Even in denominational colleges of the strictest type, direct moral instruction must be subordinate and somewhat generalized; and in any event the value of such instruction depends wholly on the standing of the man who gives it. The average professor in our larger colleges is hardly so important as the football or rowing coach, while in small colleges such instruction is given too often by one whose profession is along that line and the student is apt to think that it is only business, any way. But at best, instruction in morals conies to only too little, as one may see in professional schools. In those, the whole training from the very beginning tends to enforce the doctrine that a keen sense of honor is essential in professional life, yet one finds that in all professions—without any exception whatever—there is too great evidence that training in this respect has done little to overcome the natural tendency of mankind. Unless the surroundings, whence the student has come or amid which he lives, are such as to strengthen the moral tone, the man is likely to gain little in college, while the many special and unavoidable temptations of college life increase the danger of losing much that he already had.
There is need of notable changes in college affairs.
The waste of time in preparation for entrance is prodigal. The requirements for admission to the classical course in New York state when the writer entered college in 1858 were practically the same as now in Latin and Greek; there have been added almost a year of mathematics and, nominally, three years in English. The word nominally is used advisedly. The modern requirements are arranged with great show of importance and consist of study of some examples of fine writing; but they are a wretched substitute for the severe drill in the use of English, which was an important work in all private schools. The average city boy in the 50's, beginning systematic study when eight years old, usually completed preparation for college when he was fifteen and very many times when fourteen; it was believed at that time that the preparatory schools had attained the limit in the way of lengthening the period, and it was recognized that an ordinary boy could complete preparation by the time he was thirteen, without any strain on his health or interference with recreation. The now prevailing anxiety for the health of pupils, the craze for "short lessons well prepared" and the desire for continuing receipt of tuition fees have added unnecessarily three years for preparation. The padding of high and grammar school courses with unessentials to the utter neglect of such essentials as reading, spelling and the proper use of the English language may be justified by the necessity for holding pupils as long as possible to provide opportunity for more teachers of the higher grades, but it is not justified by the product. Boys are not so well trained at eighteen as they were fifty years ago at fourteen. They do not think, they do not know how to think; the modern method seems intended to prevent all necessity for mental exertion and the text-books are as easy as padded crutches. The mental drill which should be given to the youthful pupil has to be given in the freshman class at college. The college authorities should demand less in mass but more of thoroughness from the preparatory schools; entrance examinations should be to determine how well the boy has been trained, not to ascertain how fully he has been crammed. It may be well enough for colleges to waste their students' time in athletic contests for advertising purposes, but such "commercialism" in preparatory schools should be treated with indignation.
College methods should be changed. But first of all, there should be a definite legal determination as to the meaning of the term "college." The several states should respect themselves and should repeal the charters of many schools which have power to grant degrees. Drastic treatment has been applied to medical schools within the last two years and similar treatment should be applied to academies which masquerade as colleges and count as students all pupils, even those in the primary department. It has been said that the existence of such colleges is justified in many places, for the question is either poor colleges or none. Xot at all. There is no reason why these academies should be called colleges and be empowered to grant degrees which the recipients think equal to those obtained from colleges properly equipped with men and materials; they should be recognized only as academies and as such they should be self-supporting. There is so reason why an academy in a prosperous community and with 400 pupils should not be self-supporting. If comfortable farmers are unwilling to pay the cost, that is no reason why overtaxed city dwellers should meet the deficit; the canny agriculturist has ovei reached the great cities sufficiently through methods of real-estate assessment.
The cost of some so-called "colleges" is appalling. The writer recently received a circular appealing for assistance to save a college whose prosperity threatens its existence. The "institution," in a prosperous agricultural region, has almost 500 pupils, including the summer school, whose utility in swelling the catalogue list has been discovered. Of the grand total only one seventh can be classed as taking college courses and the academy contains scarcely so many. During the year 1911-12 the expenditures were almost $49,000 arid the deficit was about $23,000, or an average expenditure of $100 per pupil—while the receipts from tuition fees of all sorts amounted to only about $7,500. Of the money expended, $17,000 was paid to teachers, but the other expenditures show some surprising features, for one finds $4,800 for "other salaries"; $1,000, "other expenses"; $5,600, "printing and advertising"; $1,360 for "travel," making a total of nearly $13,000 for administration and publicity in a prosperous community, which cared so little for the advantages that only $7,500 were paid as fees for almost 500 pupils. During an existence of twenty-nine years this "college" has succeeded in accumulating an alumni roll of 63. The writer has gathered numerous catalogues and appeals during the last two years and he can present other illustrations of the same type. Whether or not a state should permit multiplication of such colleges may not seem to many to be an open question.
The real colleges and universities should come to an honest recognition of the fact that they were founded to produce mental, not physical athletes; college authorities and they alone are responsible for the common belief that, in college, intellectual work is less important than physical. "Methods of the shop" are denounced by many college presidents and by many professors as degrading; but nowhere are those methods more conspicuous than in colleges themselves. The only evidence of success, apparently, is increased enrollment, more funds, more houses, more low-priced teachers. Quantity, not quality. College presidents and professional canvassers hawk their wares as blatantly as criers at a fair; advertisements are placed in journals and circulars are sent broadcast, extolling the advantages of the institution as shrewdly as though the wares were oriental rugs; students entrusted to college authorities for mental training are utilized for advertising purposes and the college controls the process. Many colleges have a special exhibition day, when prospective students are invited to inspect the concern. Students, once gained, have an inordinate sense of their importance and resent regulation by the faculty as interference with their rights. Strikes among college boys are becoming only too familiar and the plague has found its way into high, even into grammar schools. Discipline is weakened and young Americans at college are growing up in a school of disobedience and evasion.
College trustees must change their methods; they must acquire a new conception of duty and must remember that they are custodians of a great trust for whose honest management they are responsible. The fact that under present conditions there is none to call them to account should make their sense of personal honor more acute. A trustee should endeavor to familiarize himself with the kind and extent of work done by professors, and should not consent to accept only such information as the president may think proper to present. It is little short of scandalous that great universities with thousands of students and vast properties should be controlled by men who are utterly ignorant of the work which is done or which might to lie done. There is no hope for American colleges, unless their affairs can be placed in charge of sympathetic trustees, who will recognize their personal limitations and will concede gladly that not they, hut the faculties are the university. Great railroad companies have been wrecked because financiers on the board of directors insisted on managing the road according to their notions through a financier president; other great companies have been rescued from destruction by repentant boards, who confined themselves to their proper duties and left management of the railroad to those wild understand the business.
There must be a return to the proper conception of a college, a place for study, where men and women may lie so trained as to be fit to undertake great things. A college should be exactly such a place as described by President Hyde in the address already cited. But that ideal college will remain ideal until the community has been led to recognize that for a third of a century the whole method has been wrong; that the glory of a university does not consist in the beauty of its buildings, the broad expanse of its campus, the extent of its athletic fields or in the marvelous equipment of its gymnasia, but in the character of its professors and in its equipment for legitimate work: that the greatness of a university does not consist in the number of its students, in the number and variety of its schools, but in the quality of the work done and in the character of the schools. The ideal condition will be impossible until those controlling the affairs of colleges have learned that they are not owners, hut trustees, and have to come to recognize their responsibility as honest and honorable men; until they have become convinced that it is less important for a president to be making addresses on public affairs than it is for him to attend to college affairs —for which he should lie held to strict accountability.
There must be changes in many directions. The mad chase for students should cease, requirements for entrance should be made more severe and students should be accepted, not entreated. Men unfitted by native defect or by environment should be discouraged: the fees should be increased so as to defray the cost; there should lie many scholarships, but they should he granted not as gifts but only upon severe examination; they should be earned—the examination should be conducted by a central board of examiners. Intercollegiate contests of all sorts should be abolished: the great stadia should lie abandoned or converted to some useful purpose; courses in gymnasia should be compulsory for all students; athletic fields should he opened for use of all and exercise should be encouraged. But every student should know that the aim in all athletic work is to fit him to do better work in the classroom—not, as now. that incidental work in the classroom is required to qualify him for membership on a team. Then, the heroes of a college will not be those who have won their "letters" by muscular prowess, but those who have made high rank in study. It will no longer be a disgrace in "halls of learning" to be a "dig," and one will not be stung by frequent repetition of the assertion that the output of colleges is not equal to that of former days.
- This does not refer to graduates of schools of applied science.