The New Student's Reference Work/Colleges, American
Colleges, American. The course of study in our American colleges has been constantly enlarging and widening. The knowledge required for entering has also risen greatly, so that now colleges proper—as distinguished from the many high-schools and academies calling themselves colleges—furnish young men with an education fully equal to that of the undergraduate departments of English and German universities. The high conditions of admission are shown by the fact that 15 per cent. of the candidates for the freshman class at Harvard fail to pass the entrance examinations, while ten per cent. fail each year at Yale. Besides the regular course, almost all colleges offer the student, especially in the last two years of the course, elective studies, which, if he prefers, he can exchange for studies in the regular course. Training in writing and public speaking is also carried on, either under the direction of the faculty or in the exercises and debates of the literary societies and in the editing of college papers. Elective studies as a system were not introduced into Harvard till the accession of President Eliot (1869). They have since been widely adopted in other colleges. A student's expenses of course vary greatly. In city-colleges, like Yale, Harvard and Columbia, the extremes are from about $450 to $3,000 a year. At the country colleges of the east, a poor student's bills need not be more than $350, while at the smaller western colleges they may be still less. Moreover, all colleges grant aid to poor students of good brains, while teaching and tutoring or “coaching” often pay the whole of a student's expenses. Harvard bears the name of a Congregational clergyman. Princeton was founded to train up able ministers. And in fact, all the early colleges were founded for a like purpose. Many western colleges were also started as home-missionary schools. The aim of colleges has since greatly widened; yet college-professors to-day are in the main Christian men, and the influence in colleges on student and on the country is a Christian one. One feature of college life is its student-societies, open—most of them literary—and secret. These societies are often known as fraternities, with chapters in many colleges. In 1908 there were 32 men's fraternities in connection with American colleges, with 1,013 active chapters and a total membership of 198,507; in the same year there were 17 women's fraternities, with 254 active chapters and a total membership of 22,833.
Athletics receive their full share of attention. Each college, usually each class, has its baseball-nine, football-eleven and boat-crew. Series of games are played with other colleges each year The Thanksgiving Day football game between Yale and Princeton, which for years was played in New York city, drew thousands of spectators, as does also the spring regatta between the Harvard and Yale crews, which is rowed on the Thames, at New London, Conn. Field-days, in which prizes are given to the winners in running, jumping, vaulting and other matches, are held in most colleges. Over half the colleges of the country have gymnasiums, and in at least one—Amherst—exercise under an instructor is required. The Dartmouth Gazette was the first college paper, founded in 1800. The Harvard Lyceum, which was begun in 1810, had Edward Everett as its first editor. Such men as Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and Phillips Brooks were college editors. There are now over 200 college journals. Many colleges now give fellowships to specially able graduates to study in some special branch, usually abroad. The most prominent in this respect is Johns Hopkins University. The colleges of the country—some 500—are well-distributed. The largest, as a rule, are in the east. The University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wis., the University of Illinois with 4,920 students, the University of Chicago with its 3,035 students and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mich., with its 297 professors and lecturers and 5,500 students, are among the more prominent western colleges. The oldest college in the country is Harvard at Cambridge, Mass., with 597 instructors and its 4128 students. Yale, Princeton, Amherst, Dartmouth, Bowdoin, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Lehigh, Lafayette, the University of Pennsylvania and Williams are the other leading eastern colleges. Most of the colleges will be found mentioned under the name of the town where they are located. The total number of students of both sexes attending the 453 American colleges in 1908 was close upon 200,000, about one fourth being women. The number of instructors was over 18,000, 2,250 being women. The benefactions of the year amounted to nearly 15 million dollars, and the total income was over $30,750,000; while the gross productive funds amounted to 208⅓ millions.