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tion the number of college graduates bears to the whole population, and what proportion of the persons deemed fairly educated and engaged in literary and professional work are really the graduates of the various collegiate institutions of the country. Some light, in a general way, is thrown on the subject by the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1884 and 1885, which gives the names of three hundred and sixtyfive colleges and universities now open in the United States for the reception of students, the report for that year being selected in preference to one of later date for the reason that since that date there has been a decline in certain directions, and by taking the report of 1885 the most favorable view possible is given of the state of education.
There being no authority enforcing reports by these institutions to the Commissioner, of course reports are optional, and doubtless there are other colleges and perhaps universities which are not included in the list; but for all practical purposes the roll as given by the Commissioner may be deemed complete. It may also be borne in mind that no reasonable probability exists of any institution under-estimating its own numbers or wealth when making a return of this kind, and so the figures given no doubt present the most favorable view possible of the present condition of the colleges named in the Commissioner's list. According to the figures furnished, there were in attendance in the preparatory departments of these colleges and universities 21,202 male and 7645 female students, a total of 28,847. Besides these, there were unclassified students, that is to say, students taking no special course, following no stated line of work, stragglers from the ranks of learning, sufficient in numbers to bring up the total in the preparatory departments to 34,377. In the classical courses, strictly collegiate in character, there were 14,872 male and 1805 female students; while in the scientific collegiate courses the males numbered 3839 and the females 1312, a total of 21,818 students in the collegiate courses. Thus, in our colleges and universities the grand total in preparatory, classical, and scientific departments is 56,195 persons, male and female; who are supposed to be acquiring such an education as will better fit them for the active duties of life.
In 1880 the population of the United States was about fifty millions, or, to be exact, 50,155,783, and, making allowance for the increase during the five years from 1880 to 1885, the date of the Educational Report, it will be seen that in the year last named about one person in every thousand was a student at college. But, we are assured on good authority, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," and among the millions of this country's population 56,195 persons of education and training certainly ought to be a force by no means despicable in influence, for “Knowledge is power," whether it be for evil or for good.
Again, it is reasonable to presume that, in a country where the blessings of education are popularly supposed to be as well understood as they are in ours, most of those who begin a college course will finish it, and therefore, the course being about four years in length, the number of graduates should bear each year to the whole number of students the ratio of one to four. It is, therefore, surprising to find that, according to the Report already mentioned, the number of graduates from collegiate departments in the year 1884 was only 869. It is thus seen that among the colleges the same state of things prevails as among the district schools of our cities : the lower grades are crowded, and the upper benches empty. In several large cities of our country scarcely two per cent of the pupils who enter the lower grades of the district schools graduate from the high schools; and an approximation to the same proportion is observable in college life.
Inicidentally with reference to collegiate training may be mentioned several facts also obtained from the Report already cited. The value of college grounds, buildings, and apparatus in the United States, so far as reported, is $48,479,200; the annual income of these institutions from their productive funds amounts collectively to $3,915,545, while the fees from students aggregate $2,270,518, the State appropriations in aid of colleges and universities were $932,365, and the scholarship funds $2,661,836. As a rule, all the annual income of every collegiate institution is expended in the same year, and we thus have an annual expenditure of $6,577,381 to graduate 869 students. In the preparatory departments there are 924 instructors, in the colleges proper 3912 professors, a total of 4836 teachers, whose united labors are required to graduate less than one-fifth of their own number of students every year. Over $7500 are expended to graduate a student (to say nothing of the labor), and the question whether he is worth the money is naturally deserving of consideration. Where does he go when he walks off the stage with his sheepskin? What becomes of him? What does he do for a living? Does he do anything? Occasionally, it must be confessed, he turns up on the front platform of a street-car; in the mining camps of the West he is sometimes found with a pick and shovel; but in the greatest number of cases he seems to vanish as utterly from public view after Commencement as though the band which lends such éclat to this occasion had played his funeral dirge.
The common supposition is that the graduates of colleges find congenial work in literary employments or in the ranks of the learned professions. This may be true. Then let us see what proportion the graduates will bear to the entire number of those engaged in the learned professions, even if all the college-trained men go into professional life.
The Compendium of the Tenth Census shows that at the time it was taken there were in this country 64,698 clergymen, 64,137 lawyers, while the physicians and surgeons numbered 85,671, the teachers 227,710, and the journalists 12,308 ; a grand total in the professions of 454,524. From comparison of this vast multitude with the annual number of graduates from our colleges, the conclusion is inevitable that the majority of persons in law, in medicine, in the pulpit, in journalistic life, and behind the teacher's' desk are not regular graduates of our colleges. Indeed, there is reason to believe that no inconsiderable number among them are men who have received little or no college training, while instances might be cited of eminent success having been attained by many who received no aid whatever from school or college, though of course this is no argument against college or school, for, al
though success has been in many cases attained by untrained men, no one can say how much greater might have been the achievements of these same men bad they enjoyed liberal training before entering the race.
An apparent exception seems to exist among the doctors, for the code is so strict that no one can be registered as a practising physician who is not a graduate of a medical institute of established rank. But the exception is only apparent; for, although every physician must be a graduate of a registered institution, there is nothing in the code requiring that a medical college student should have been previously a graduate from a classical or scientific college, and the burden of evidence goes to prove that the majority of the physicians of this country, while medical graduates, are not classical or scientific scholars in the collegiate sense of the term.
As a fact, therefore, it may be concluded that college graduates do not play the part expected of them in the affairs of the world at large, nor do they even influence the learned professions as might be supposed they would if the benefits conferred upon them by a collegiate training were as great as teachers and parents would have them believe.
Perhaps the fault is their own, but perhaps also it lies with the college authorities and in the college courses. The courses of study laid down in the catalogues have, year by year, become more encyclopædic, and during every long vacation professors and teachers appear to busy themselves in considering what addition shall be made to the curriculum in order to render it more comprehensive and less practical and practicable.
An examination of the course of study of a large and popular institution shows that in six years' time the young men are supposed to master composition, zoology, drawing, arithmetic, book-keeping, botany, algebra, physics, geometry, trigonometry, solid geometry, chemistry, laboratory-work, physiology, physical geography, hygiene, United States history, American literature, spherical trigonometry, spherical astronomy, English history, analytical geometry, calculus, political science, economic botany, English literature, entomology, French, American history, political economy, German, medieval history, “Semetic languages” (whatever that expression may mean), ancient history, Anglo-Saxon, logic, psychology, physical laboratory, geology, field-work, paleontology, ethics, and philosophy, both mental and moral. In addition to these, Latin and Greek appear in every halfyear but the first, making a total of forty-six different studies; or, if the Latin and Greek are counted as separate studies in each half-year, as indeed they may be, for different text-books are employed, a total of sixty-eight studies to be skimmed over-for mastery is an inapplicable word—in the six years' course of study.
This seems bad enough ; but what shall we think when the inspection of the catalogue of a girls' college shows that in the same length of time a young lady, to become a candidate for graduation, is expected to understand composition, zoology, drawing, arithmetic, book-keeping, rhetoric, botany, algebra, physics, German, mediæval history, plane geometry, plane trigonometry, solid geometry, chemistry, English, laboratory-work, physical geography, physiology, hygiene, calisthenics, United States history, American literature, domestic chemistry, French, modern history, spherical trigonometry, spherical astronomy, English history, physics, art, Greek literature, political science, economic botany, systematic botany, literary criticism, English literature, entomology, political economy, Italian, quantitative analysis, Semitic languages, ancient history, Anglo-Saxon, mineralogy, lithology, psychology, logic, æsthetics, horticulture, landscape-gardening, geological museum, geology, palæontology, ethics, and mental and moral philosophy, besides eight half-years each of Latin and Greek,-a total of seventy-three studies in six years !
Now, suppose that only two books are used for each subject,—which is a low estimate, for in some studies eight or ten would be nearer the truth,—and we have one hundred and forty-six volumes, large and small, which the young-lady student is supposed to go through after some fashion in the course of six years. Let each volume contain only five hundred pages,-probably a fair statement,--and we have seventythree thousand pages which she is presumed to study, more or less carefully, in the same length of time. The school year, however, is not the calendar year, but consists of forty weeks of five days each, and the unfortunate youths who go through the colleges of our time are thus understood to master about sixty pages a day, not of light reading, such as novels, story-books, or even history, but solid matter which is to be pored over to ascertain its meaning and carefully considered for the purpose of assimilating and making it a part of the mind. In the nature of the case, real learning is a practical impossibility, and no wonder can be felt at the superficiality of college education. Students are misled and mislead themselves, gaining the idea that they have mastered a study, when they have only finished a text-book.
That the young gentlemen and ladies who graduate after skirmishing through a college course should imagine that the sum total of human knowledge is theirs, and that the world is at their feet, is not to be wondered at. Year after year the maxim “Knowledge is power” is dinned in their ears, and they have been led to believe the statement true in the abstract, with no possibility of modification. While, however, it is perfectly true that knowledge may be power, the question whether it is or not, depends on the kind of knowledge. For knowledge may be either a weapon to aid the traveller in cutting his way through the jungle of life, or a piece of useless luggage to encumber his march, and it is still an open question whether the colleges provide the young with weapons or impediments, for after one has mastered and stowed away in his cranium all the knowledge of a college course he is likely to find his mind in the condition of the old-fashioned attic lumber-room, full enough of all sorts of things, but piled in so hurriedly that it is impossible to find any needed article without overhauling the whole.
The value of knowledge does not, of course, depend altogether on its utility or immediate applicability, but it is impossible not to see that in the ponderous mass of learning presented in the college courses the greater part is not likely to be either immediately or remotely useful or
ornamental, for, if it were, evidence of that fact would be visible in the greater influence of college graduates on the business, social, professional, and literary affairs of the world, whereas the truth seems to be that the graduate must unlearn much, if not the most, of what he has learned at college before success is within his reach.
The truth seems to be that most of our colleges are from twenty-five to two hundred and fifty years behind the times, and seem likely to remain so, from the fact that the ideals held up by themselves before their own eyes are the semi-mediæval universities of Europe,-institutions that at present derive their chief patronage either from the wealthy who have leisure, or from those who go through the curriculum in order to fit themselves for the task of leading others in the same or parallel paths. The attempt at aping the European colleges has kept Latin and Greek foremost in the courses of study, together with much more of the dead past which cumbers the educational ground. But such is the importance still attached to the classics in many of our institutions of learning that a young man who cannot name the Presidents of the United States will glibly deliver himself of a list of the Emperors of Rome, will know more of the Peloponnesian war than of the American Revolution, and will be more familiar with the geography of Greece than with that of his own State.
To be sure, it is well enough to know who reigned in Rome, or who commanded the opposing forces during the wars between two petty Grecian states, and to be able to locate Thebes and Sparta on the map, if you have time to learn these things in addition to facts which should be the property of every fairly-educated man; but the latter should have the preference, and sooner or later college authorities must recognize the difference between the useful and the useless.
As at present constituted, too many of our institutions seem to build students on a wrong gauge, so that after leaving school the gauge must be altered to allow them to run on the track used by the rest of mankind; but how soon this fact will be seen and acknowledged by professors and teachers, is a conundrum. A general impression exists in educational circles that the class-room is the crank round which the world revolves ; but sometimes, when the connection between the crank and the grindstone has slipped, the axe-grinding boy may be seen diligently at work turning as fast as his arms can move, unmindful of the fact that the grindstone does not stir. Thus, perhaps, it is with too many of our educational institutions : the crank is going, but the wheel does not respond.
D. R. McAnally.
VOL. XLIV. 47