Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/405

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ing 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.