Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/164

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160
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

do graduate. It is evident that a few students graduating in a class above forty years of age—by no means an unheard-of state of affairs—would unfairly raise the average age of that class, since it is manifestly impossible to graduate twenty years below the normal age. Again, a class, or series of classes, may graduate a considerable number of its members below twenty, while a still larger number graduates above twenty-four or twenty-five. The curve of distribution of the ages of graduation will then resemble the letter M. Manifestly, in such a case, which occurs several times, the arithmetical average tells us nothing of value. Finally, the median age gives us the exact information that one half the students in question graduated at or above the given age, and the other half at or below it. The curves of distribution, moreover, given in the plates for all graduates and all colleges for the years 1850-59 and 1890-99, show exactly what percentage graduated at each age.

Table I.

Median Ages of Graduation by Decades.

Dartmouth. Bowdein. Middlebury. U. of Ver. Adelbert.
Age. No. Age. No. Age. No. Age. No. Age. No.
1770-79 23-0 78
1780-99 23-1 150
1790-99 23-2 336
1800-09 22-6 323 22-10 76
1810-19 22-9 330 23-1 194 20-4 106
1820-29 23-1 328 23-0 187 20-8 258 22-4 59
1830-39 22-5 384 23-4 242 21-7 289 22-7 80 23-0 41
1840-49 23-1 586 22-8 109 21-9 356 22-0 184 23-2 125
1850-59 23-8 558 23-3 121 22-1 335 22-4 168 23-0 98
1860-69 23-1 491 23-5 132 22-10 348 22-6 91 22-10 160
1870-79 22-10 593 23-4 111 22-5 321 22-6 98 22-9 217
1880-89 22-10 527 22-11 86 22-8 303 22-8 108 23-0 251
1890-99 22-9 678 23-2 125 22-7 481 22-9 215 22-9 156


We now come to a consideration of Table I.[1] The most obvious and surprising thing that strikes us at first sight is the fact that our

  1. In Table I., decade '1770-79,' equals Dartmouth 1771-79; decade '1800-09,' equals Middlebury 1803-09; decade '1830-39,' equals Alabama 1832-39, New York University 1833-39, Oberlin 1837-39, Wesleyan 1833-39; decade '1850-59,' equals in Syracuse 1852-59. In each case the corrected year marks the date of the first graduating class. In decade '1890-99' Adelbert includes only the years 1890-95; New York University, 1890-94; Syracuse, 1890-98. In Alabama University there were no graduates for the years 1866-71 inclusive. During several of these years the university was closed. The data for the decade '1900- ' are as follows: Dartmouth, Oberlin, DePauw, each, class of 1900 only; Wesleyan, Alabama and Vermont, classes of 1900-01; Bowdoin. 1900-02. The whole number of cases in this 'decade' is 572. In reference to the degrees included in the investigation, I have attempted to use only A.B., Ph.B. and B.S. In a few instances the last named degree