Page images

number of institutions. A few years ago the writer made an investigation of more than 200 small colleges representing nearly every State in the Union. According to data collected at that time, and as is shown by the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1912, more than 50 per cent of these institutions failed to reach the minimum requirements for endowment of $200,000, although this standard has been the one quite generally agreed upon. Of the total of 581 colleges listed in the commissioner's report for that year, 197 had less than this minimum requirement. Similar results were found when other parts of the standards were applied. There is but one conclusion to this discussion thus far. The muchprized institution of American democracy, the small college, is facing a serious crisis. The constantly increasing tendency to enforce the standards already referred to threatens the very life of these institutions. Must they go o Serious-minded educators have for almost a score of years been trying to answer this question. They see, on the one hand, the disastrous results of the policy above described, and are firmly convinced that such conditions oan not be allowed to continue, yet, on the other hand, they recognize the work of these institutions. They know by what giving of life and blood this work has been made possible, and they know the spirit of the American people. They know that anything but an intelligent, broad-minded attempt to solve this problem would be unjust, and sooner or later bound to fail. President Harper, of the University of Chicago, faced this problem Squarely almost 20 years ago." So thoroughly did he analyze the situation that the factors which he suggested as determining the future of the small college are for the most part equally valid to-day. In the first place, there are certain factors which seem to favor the development of the small colleges. Among these may be mentioned— 1. The widespread belief that the small college has many advantages over the larger institutions. This belief, whether based upon facts or not, is a very certain element of strength to these institutions. 2. Local pride in the various communities where colleges have been established and the interest and support of the men of wealth. 3. The strong religious support of most of these institutions. 4. The democratic spirit of the American people. 5. The increased standards of professional schools and the more exact definition of the high school and the university seem to leave a definite field of operation for the small college. On the other hand there are certain factors that seem to stand in the way of the development of the small college. These are: 1. The rapid development of the high school within the last 25 years. Much of what was formerly taught in the college is now

1 Harper, W. R. The Trend in Higher Education, pp. 349-390.

offered in the high school, and the latter is usually equipped to give such work in a more effective manner. Add to this the present tendency of the high school to extend its course two additional years, and we must admit that it becomes a menace to the traditional small college. 2. On the other side of the college is the university. This institution is also the product of the last quarter century. In the 10 years from 1904 to 1914 the number of students in 30 universities increased from 67,000 to 113,000, or 68 per cent. The reasons why these powerful, well-equipped, State-supported institutions should draw a large part of the constituency of the small college are so evident that they need not be discussed further. 3. The recent tendency toward specialization makes demands for a broad and varied curriculum, to suit the various desires and capacities of students. These demands the small and poorly equipped institutions can not meet. This has led students to finish their courses in the universities. The result has been the depletion of the upper two classes in the small college until in many cases there are few students who rank above sophomores. 4. Perhaps the greatest difficulty confronting the small college is lack of funds to keep its work up to present standards. Evidence of this has already been presented. With few students and a small and uncertain income at least 50 per cent or more of these institutions find it impossible to keep up with even the minimum of present standards. Should such institutions continue to grant degrees? We come now to the solution. What changes seem desirable? What place is the small college to hold in the future? Many suggestions have been offered. We can barely mention these here. 1. In the first place, it is certain that a number of these institutions will survive the struggle of existence and be all the stronger for it. President Harper suggested that 25 per cent of our colleges should be expected to meet the new demands. Recent evidence proves that this was a reasonable estimate. In 1900 there were only 3 colleges in the South that had standard requirements for entrance, while in 1912 this number had risen to 160." 2. A second alternative for the college of limited means is that of limiting its work to that of the standard high-school course and changing its name accordingly. We have already seen that a large per cent of our so-called colleges, especially in the South, clearly belong to this class. President Harper claimed that at least 25 per cent of all the institutions should make this change. 3. A third solution has been found in the amalgamation of two or more institutions of limited means. This has frequently been accomplished with success, and there is abundant opportunity for more work along the same line. We need but mention the instance referred to in North Carolina, where one church maintains 6 competing colleges, while only 1 of the entire 29 institutions of that State conforms to the requirements of the Southern College Association."

1 Colton, E. A. The Junior College Problem in the South. Meredith College Bulletin, January, 1915.

4. What of the remaining 50 per cent of small colleges which fall between the two above classes 2 These institutions are not qualified to offer four years of college work and yet can not be asked to attempt to do no college work at all. The private junior colleges of to-day, 66 of which are considered in this report, are the answer to this question. Since the days of President Harper, who so ably championed the cause of the junior college, there has been a growing conviction of the truth of his contentions. The Commissioner of Education wrote in 1912: 2

In the years that have elapsed since this great educational statesman uttered these words the movement for the readjustment of the name and organization of institutions to fit more exactly their real purposes and practices, and for the organization of junior colleges or the reorganizasion of old institutions on substantially a junior college basis, has gone on slowly but with a sure step.

If the reader will but glance at Table 3, on page 42, which shows the dates of the organization of junior colleges, he will be convinced that his “slow and sure step” has now become a “double quick.” In all parts of the country there have appeared ardent supporters of this plan. Miss Colton, of Meredith College, already referred to, wrote in 1915:*

The South offers a flourishing field for the junior college. No other section of the

country would be moré benefited than the South by such a reorganization of its higher institutions of learning.

In another connection she says:

The standard of all church colleges in the South would be much improved if the weaker denominations would build one standard college in each State, or a group of States, with an affiliated junior college in each State of the group, and if the stronger denominations would limit the number of their colleges in the State to one college for men and women, either separate or combined, and to one or two junior colleges.

A number of the States have taken definite steps toward the accrediting of junior colleges. Among these may be mentioned Virginia, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, California, and others. More detailed information in regard to this will be found in a later chapter on “Accrediting of Junior Colleges.” As will be seen there, the number of institutions that are consenting to limit their work to two years is surprisingly large.

Colton, E. A. The Junior College Problem in the South. Meredith College Bulletin, January, 1915. * Rep. Commis. of Educ., 1912. * Colton, A. E. The Junior College Problem in the South. Meredith College Bulletin, 1915.

Why have these schools been willing to become junior colleges in such large numbers? In order to be able to answer this question directly, we included question 13 in the questionnaire to junior colleges (see Appendix A). The replies of 69 institutions have been summarized on pages 36–37. A few of them, however, refer especially to the small college and will be discussed briefly.

1. The junior college offers a way out for those who have so earnestly maintained the value of the religious control of higher education. Its recent rapid development is due in part to the fact that the leaders of denominational colleges are awakening to their opportunities.

President Stout, of Howard Payne College, says:"

The junior college is the solution to one of the church's exceedingly knotty problems in education. -

President Leath, of North Texas College, in discussing this same problem said:” “The problem before the church is to produce a frictionless system of church schools,” and he finds the junior college to be the key to the solution of this problem.

In view of the conditions existing in some of the Southern States,

especially, these statements of the educational leaders of a prominent church are significant.

TABLE 2.-Reasons for organizing junior colleges.”

Rank in Rank in Reasons. - Number. I Per cent. fre- imporquency." | tance.” Geographical.-------------------------------------------------- 10 18 11 10 Financial............................................. ---- 26 46 3. 3 Desire of parents...................................... ---- 17 - 30 9 7% Desire of students..................................... -- 25 44 4 # 14 25 10 7 38 68 1 1 20 35 7 10 19 34 8 10 -- 22 39 5} 4 Completion........................................... - - - - 36 64 2 2 Local needs.................................................... 22 39 5} 5}

ow 1 Stout, H. E. +he Place of the Junior College. Bul. of Bd. of Educ., M. E. Church South, 1917. * Leath, J. O. The Relation of the Junior College and Standard College. (Same Bulletin.) * A summary of the replies of 54 private junior colleges to question 13 of the questionnaire. (See Appendix A.) * In the fourth column is given the rank in srequency of mention, while in the fifth column the rank in frequency of which each reason was underscored as especially important. The former is the more reliable mcasure, because it represents the larger number of replies.



1. To provide opportunities for higher education under church control. 2. To provide a completion school for those who can not go further. 3. Financial difficulty of maintaining a four-year course. 4. Desire of students for college work near home. 5. To meet the entrance requirements to professional schools. 6. To meet specific local needs. 7. To provide vocational training in advance of high-school work. 8. To provide additional opportunities for teacher training. 9. Desire of parents to keep children near home. 10. Desire to secure segregation of sexes. 11. Geographical remoteness from a standard college or university. If the private junior college can secure the values to be derived from the religious control of higher education, and at the same time eliminate the evils that have risen as a result of low standards and demoralizing competition which has been so common with denominational institutions, we may safely predict a secure place for it in future educational systems. 2. In the South, where colleges for women seem to flourish, the junior college finds another stronghold. With insufficient funds at their disposal but still convinced of the advantages of the segregation of the sexes during certain years of adolescence, these institutions have found the junior college admirably adapted to their needs. President Wood, of Stephens College, in an address before the National Education Association in 1916, said:" The cordial reception tendered them [the junior colleges in Missouri] was due to various causes, the chief of which was the growing concern of parents and educators over conditions surrounding girls yet in their teens, in the large coeducational institutions. Here lies the argument for giving the private junior college for women a definite place in an educational system. Through it the period of training of the adolescent girl may be extended two years beyond that provided by the present organization of the secondary schools.

It should be added that the University of Missouri, through the utilization of the junior-college idea, has found a definite and undoubtedly a permanent place for the small colleges for women of that State. Its example is worthy of imitation.

3. In some sections of the country the private junior colleges

have been encouraged as a means of providing for additional opportunities for teacher training. This is especially true of Texas, where the so-called “junior-college law” is nothing but a provision entitling

1 Wood, James M. The Junior College. Address before Nat. Ed. Assoc., July 6, 1917. Stephens College Bulletin, June, 1916.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »