Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/72

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68
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

UNIVERSITY STANDARDS AND STUDENT ACTIVITIES
By ORRIN LESLIE ELLIOTT
REGISTRAR, STANFORD UNIVERSITY

IN a recent address before the Stanford Forum Professor Barrows made reference to the current criticism and depreciation of the American college. This criticism may be summed up in the statement that the college does not make good. Its output is woefully disappointing. Its business is to prepare young men and women for effective living in their time and place, to equip them for the responsibilities and duties which every generation in turn must meet and discharge if the standards of civilization are to be maintained and pushed forward. The charge is that college graduates do not meet the test; they do not measure up to the requirements; they are deficient in those very qualities which the higher education is supposed especially to nurture.

Professor Barrows would frankly accept the situation: the fact is mainly true; the explanation is that too much has been expected of the college. College students are too immature. As one goes about the campus i J is groups of boys and girls that he meets, full of the playtime spirit, not taking learning seriously, their minds filled with games and social functions. Better recognize that it is so, consider the college period as an extension of the playground, and not expect of it equipment for the serious part of life.

Professor Barrows was holding a brief for the graduate school, whose function should be, as he conceived it, to do exactly what it is unreasonable to expect of the undergraduate college. That point I do not wish to follow. But that which Professor Barrows passed off carelessly as an added argument for the graduate school may well be the object of further inquiry. If it is true that the college has failed there is something pathetic in the situation thus presented; because education is the one thing to which democracy has pinned its faith. And the outward progress of education has been all and more than its wildest enthusiasts could have dreamed. From kindergarten to university the wealth of the state has been poured out, and the state's bounty supplemented by unparalleled private munificence, until the highest education is within reach of the humblest youth in the land. Within a single generation, while population has increased but a hundred per cent., the attendance upon institutions of higher education has increased four hundred per cent. The expansion in secondary education has been no less significant. In 1880 there were no four-year high schools in the