The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, January 30, 1902, Page 2, Image 2

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13be Conservative *
James H. Caufiold ,
A NEW BOOK , well known in Ne
braska as a former
Chancellor of the State University , is
the author of a very neatly printed
book of about 200 pages , just published
by The Macmillan Company and en
titled "The College Student and His
Problems. " Perhaps the first thing that
strikes an old acquaintance of the
author in reading his book , is that his
recent "down east" environment has
not impaired the tactful familiarity of
his address , while it has urbanized and
otherwise refined his mode of expression.
The book is destined to make an im
portant impression upon the class of our
youth to whom it is addressed , both be
cause it is so written that it will be
widely read , and because it is worthy of
Notwithstanding its title , the
most pertinent and important part of
the book is addressed to possible or
prospective , rather than to actual col
lege students , under the query , "why
go to college ? " The professional phy-
'sioiau of souls and the professional
physician of bodies with like persist
ence , prescribe their remedies as indis
pensable respectively , to spiritual and/ '
physical health ; and the manufacturer
and the merchant also advertise the su
preme advantages of their wares. And
so from this prince and life-long spokes
man of a vast educational organization
or cult , wo would naturally look for at
least a perfunctory plea for college
education. But , as wo should also ex
pect of the man , Chancellor Canfield
performs this part , and much more with
both power and plausibility. His pre
scription , moreover , is sweeping a col
lege course for all young men. He
makes only this barely possible except
ion : "Unless in some peculiar and un-
usual way you have positive and definite
and conclusive assurance that it will be
only a waste of time and effort to un
dertake a college course , enter some col
lege at once even if debt must be in
curred for its expense. " For , "if the
choice must be made between entering
upon life in the bonds of ignorance or
of limited education , or in the bonds of
debt , the latter is to be chosen every
time. " .
But the author puts the "practical"
advantages of a college education fore
most in his plea ; and this is indicative
of the radical change of public senti
ment touching this question that has
taken place in a comparatively few
years. He does not , however , wholly
neglect the spiritual or sentimental argu
ment : "Only the mind which becomes
public and large can over enter
into the highest joys of life. And only
the mind which is early and thoroughly
and wisely disciplined , can possibly and
surely hope to become public and large.
You may secure this discipline outsid
the walls of a college. Some men have
done this , but the surest road is that
trodden by hundreds and thousands dur
ing all the post the college. "
But ifc is significant that these degen
erate dnys of commercialism , should
have driven a Goliath champion of the
college to this as a crucial test :
"The best business men of today very
generally favor the graduate , prefering
him to the non-graduate ; and look for
more intelligent effort , a wider outlook ,
a finer grasp , more rapid advancement
than are possible to the average man ,
who has been denied the privilege of
higher training. * * * Twenty-five
years from now the young men of to
day must compete largely with college
men. They will find themselves trot
ting in quite another class , and they
must meet , the pace or be barred. The
learned professions , so-called , the tech
nical callings , the world of literature ,
the avenues of production and of com
merce , public life and service all are
now crowded with collegians , give
preference to collegians. * * * As A. E.
Winship puts it : 'It is now certain
that in every avenue of competition
one must face elaboratly trained and
educated men and women. ' * * * It is
jg f
'Entirely true that the college-bred boy
must begin at the bottom , and that at
the outset he appears to have lost time
wandering about among the dead
languages and philosophy and the his
tory of the past , and flue-spun theories
of the present , while 'the other fellow'
has mastered the elements of his busi
ness or calling , and is already well up
the ladder. But the college man is
destined to climb faster and higher. He
does not reach the end of his tether
nearly so soon as 'the other fellow'and ,
all other things being equal , he soon
masters the other fellow as being
simply one of the incidents of
the situation. * * * A few ex
ceptional men are undoubtedly what
they are because they were not
trammelled by the work of a college. "
"But there is a great cloud of witnesses ,
against the author's contention that
a college education helps rather than
hinders a man in the competitive strug
gle of the commercial or industrial
world , and prominent among them are
Mr. Schwab , the colossus of the steel
trust and many other captains of in
dustry ; and for some time , doubtless ,
this will be a fairly open question. The
prominence which this special repre
sentative of the college system gives to
the commercial argument in favor of
the college education illustrates how
rapidly the college spirit of devotion to
ideals and to high thinking and learn
ing for its own sake has been giving
way to the "practical" commercial aim.
And if Chancellor Canfield's contention
that the college preparation is good 01
indispensable for a business career is
true is it not so chiefly because the col
leges too have become commercialized9
At any rate many of the collegians of
middle life or beyond , who read our
author's book , and are reminded thereby
of the opportunities and time wasted in
; heir earlier years of business life be-
: ore they could divest themselves of
deals and ideas which were their college
heritage , and were a cause of failure
and a bar to worldly success ; and who
may be still limping because of these
early shackles , will come to this con
clusion. But in spite of a bias of this
sort on our own part the old-time spirit
asserts itself in presence of the com
mercial defense of a college education
and we are impelled to oppose to it that
noble plea of the late Joseph Leconte :
"This entire plan ( of the educational
course ) should be centered about the
ideal of the development of the indi
vidual , whom modern social organiza
tion tends too much to reduce to a mere
machine. Hence , the utilitarian con
siderations should be rigidly ruled out
if the college course. Life's business
belongs elsewhere ; and the social order
; laims its own. A liberal education
must be in conscious opposition tp the
calls of the outer world ; for its purpose
is the training of the individuals who
shall be strong enough to resist the
crushing power of the social forces , and
thereby to become the centres whence
new social forces shall radiate. "
For the present , therefore , ostensible
discussion of the question of the desira
bility of a college course for the present
young man is an utter confusion for
want of a definition of what a college
course is or should be ; and the contro
versy really hinges on this last question.
But it seems to the writer , that in the
confusion of the meantime , older colle
gians in particular , and frank question
ers in general , will find a more con
genial atmosphere for their sentiment
and conscience and a firmer footing for
their logic , standing on the old Orthodox
ground with Leconte than on the new
ground with Canfield and very many of
his contemporaries.
On the topic of fraternities and elect
ive courses , the author gives many wise
and timely suggestions. He apparently
accepts these features of the modern
college and university as having "come
to stay , " and therefore treats them ,
though half warily , from the point of
view that "whatever is , is right. "
Though he makes no broad-side attack ,
he incidentally recognizes the force of
the objections made against them by.
others. For example , he says of electA' '
ives that , "they are not intended)1 )
to be regarded as a collection of soft/ \
snaps , it is not expected that they will \
become the refuge of every weak and \
timid man. * * * The elective system
has been misused and abused by both
faculty and students , beyond question. "
The author also acknowledges that col
lege fraternities tend to lead students / * - "
into habits of extravagance. But af
more fundamental and serious objection )
to the fraternities is that their gregarious - /
ious club life breeds disorderly habitsA
and in general tends to un-domesticate )
the young men. The great aversion of \
landlords to renting houses to fraternities - v
ties on account of the damage they do N
them , illustrates the first objection. In I
the thick of present insistance and con
cession that club life and extraordinary
avocations are rapidly destroying the
domestic spirit in our women , young
and otherwise , how are we to conserve
any remnant of the old home life unless
we domesticate or hold in the spiiit of
domesticity the boys ?
( The Maomillau Company , GO , Fifth
Ave. , price $1.00. )