By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Why Go to College? an address
Author: Palmer, Alice Freeman, 1855-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Why Go to College? an address" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.




Formerly President of Wellesley College

To a largely increasing number of young girls college doors are opening
every year.  Every year adds to the number of men who feel as a friend
of mine, a successful lawyer in a great city, felt when in talking of
the future of his four little children he said, "For the two boys it is
not so serious, but I lie down at night afraid to die and leave my
daughters only a bank account."  Year by year, too, the experiences of
life are teaching mothers that happiness does not necessarily come to
their daughters when accounts are large and banks are sound, but that
on the contrary they take grave risks when they trust everything to
accumulated wealth and the chance of a happy marriage.  Our American
girls themselves are becoming aware that they need the stimulus, the
discipline, the knowledge, the interests of the college in addition to
the school, if they are to prepare themselves for the most serviceable

But there are still parents who say, "There is no need that my daughter
should teach; then why should she go to college?"  I will not reply
that college training is a life insurance for a girl, a pledge that she
possesses the disciplined ability to earn a living for herself and
others in case of need, for I prefer to insist on the importance of
giving every girl, no matter what her present circumstances, a special
training in some one thing by which she can render society service, not
amateur but of an expert sort, and service too for which it will be
willing to pay a price. The number of families will surely increase who
will follow the example of an eminent banker whose daughters have been
given each her specialty.  One has chosen music, and has gone far with
the best masters in this country and in Europe, so far that she now
holds a high rank among musicians at home and abroad.  Another has
taken art, and has not been content to paint pretty gifts for her
friends, but in the studios of New York, Munich, and Paris, she has won
the right to be called an artist, and in her studio at home to paint
portraits which have a market value.  A third has proved that she can
earn her living, if need be, by her exquisite jellies, preserves, and
sweetmeats.  Yet the house in the mountains, the house by the sea, and
the friends in the city are not neglected, nor are these young women
found less attractive because of their special accomplishments.

While it is not true that all girls should go to college any more than
that all boys should go, it is nevertheless true that they should go in
greater numbers than at present.  They fail to go because they, their
parents and their teachers, do not see clearly the personal benefits
distinct from the commercial value of a college training.  I wish here
to discuss these benefits, these larger gifts of the college
life,--what they may be, and for whom they are waiting.

It is undoubtedly true that many girls are totally unfitted by home and
school life for a valuable college course.  These joys and successes,
these high interests and friendships, are not for the self-conscious
and nervous invalid, nor for her who in the exuberance of youth
recklessly ignores the laws of a healthy life. The good society of
scholars and of libraries and laboratories has no place and no
attraction for her who finds no message in Plato, no beauty in
mathematical order, and who never longs to know the meaning of the
stars over her head or the flowers under her feet.  Neither will the
finer opportunities of college life appeal to one who, until she is
eighteen (is there such a girl in this country?), has felt no passion
for the service of others, no desire to know if through history or
philosophy, or any study of the laws of society, she can learn why the
world is so sad, so hard, so selfish as she finds it, even when she
looks upon it from the most sheltered life.  No, the college cannot be,
should not try to be, a substitute for the hospital, reformatory or
kindergarten. To do its best work it should be organized for the
strong, not for the weak; for the high-minded, self-controlled,
generous, and courageous spirits, not for the indifferent, the dull,
the idle, or those who are already forming their characters on the
amusement theory of life.  All these perverted young people may, and
often do, get large benefit and invigoration, new ideals, and unselfish
purposes from their four years' companionship with teachers and
comrades of a higher physical, mental, and moral stature than their
own.  I have seen girls change so much in college that I have wondered
if their friends at home would know them,--the voice, the carriage, the
unconscious manner, all telling a story of new tastes and habits and
loves and interests, that had wrought out in very truth a new creature.
Yet in spite of this I have sometimes thought that in college more than
elsewhere the old law holds, "To him that hath shall be given and he
shall have abundance, but from him who hath not shall be taken away
even that which he seemeth to have."  For it is the young life which is
open and prepared to receive which obtains the gracious and uplifting
influences of college days.  What, then, for such persons are the rich
and abiding rewards of study in college or university?

Pre-eminently the college is a place of education.  That is the ground
of its being.  We go to college to know, assured that knowledge is
sweet and powerful, that a good education emancipates the mind and
makes us citizens of the world.  No college which does not thoroughly
educate can be called good, no matter what else it does.  No student
who fails to get a little knowledge on many subjects, and much
knowledge on some, can be said to have succeeded, whatever other
advantages she may have found by the way.  It is a beautiful and
significant fact that in all times the years of learning have been also
the years of romance.  Those who love girls and boys pray that our
colleges may be homes of sound learning, for knowledge is the condition
of every college blessing.  "Let no man incapable of mathematics enter
here," Plato is reported to have inscribed over his Academy door.  "Let
no one to whom hard study is repulsive hope for anything from us,"
American colleges might paraphrase.  Accordingly in my talk today I
shall say little of the direct benefits of knowledge which the college
affords. These may be assumed.  It is on their account that one knocks
at the college door.  But seeking this first, a good many other things
are added.  I want to point out some of these collateral advantages of
going to college, or rather to draw attention to some of the many forms
in which the winning of knowledge presents itself.

The first of these is happiness.  Everybody wants "a good time,"
especially every girl in her teens.  A good time, it is true, does not
always in these years mean what it will mean by and by, any more than
the girl of eighteen plays with the doll which entranced the child of
eight.  It takes some time to discover that work is the best sort of
play, and some people never discover it at all. But when mothers ask
such questions as these:  "How can I make my daughter happy?" "How can
I give her the best society?" "How can she have a good time?" the
answer in most cases is simple.  Send her to college,--to almost any
college.  Send her because there is no other place where between
eighteen and twenty-two she is so likely to have a genuinely good time.
Merely for good times, for romance, for society, college life offers
unequalled opportunities. Of course no idle person can possibly be
happy, even for a day, nor she who makes a business of trying to amuse
herself.  For full happiness, though its springs are within, we want
health and friends and work and objects of aspiration.  "We live by
admiration, hope, and love," says Wordsworth.  The college abounds in
all three. In the college time new powers are sprouting, and
intelligence, merriment, truthfulness and generosity are more natural
than the opposite qualities often become in later years.  An
exhilarating atmosphere pervades the place.  We who are in it all the
time feel that we live at the fountain of perpetual youth, and those
who take but a four years' bath in it become more cheerful, strong, and
full of promise than they are ever likely to find themselves again; for
a college is a kind of compendium of the things that most men long for.
It is usually planted in a beautiful spot, the charm of trees and water
being added to stately buildings and stimulating works of art.
Venerable associations of the past hallow its halls.  Leaders in the
stirring world of to-day return at each commencement to share the fresh
life of the new class. Books, pictures, music, collections, appliances
in every field, learned teachers, mirthful friends, athletics for
holidays, the best words of the best men for holy days,--all are here.
No wonder that men look back upon their college life as upon halcyon
days, the romantic period of youth.  No wonder that Dr. Holmes's poems
to his Harvard classmates find an echo in college reunions everywhere;
and gray-haired men, who outside the narrowing circle of home have not
heard their first names for years, remain Bill and Joe and John and
George to college comrades, even if unseen for more than a generation.

Yet a girl should go to college not merely to obtain four happy years
but to make a second gain, which is often overlooked, and is little
understood even when perceived; I mean a gain in health. The old notion
that low vitality is a matter of course with women; that to be delicate
is a mark of superior refinement, especially in well-to-do families;
that sickness is a dispensation of Providence,--these notions meet with
no acceptance in college. Years ago I saw in the mirror frame of a
college freshman's room this little formula:  "Sickness is
carelessness, carelessness is selfishness, and selfishness is sin."
And I have often noticed among college girls an air of humiliation and
shame when obliged to confess a lack of physical vigor, as if they were
convicted of managing life with bad judgment, or of some moral
delinquency. With the spreading scientific conviction that health is a
matter largely under each person's control, that even inherited
tendencies to disease need not be allowed to run their riotous course
unchecked, there comes an earnest purpose to be strong and free.
Fascinating fields of knowledge are waiting to be explored;
possibilities of doing, as well as of knowing, are on every side; new
and dear friendships enlarge and sweeten dreams of future study and
work, and the young student cannot afford quivering nerves or small
lungs or an aching head any more than bad taste, rough manners, or a
weak will.  Handicapped by inheritance or bad training, she finds the
plan of college life itself her supporter and friend. The steady,
long-continued routine of mental work, physical exercise, recreation,
and sleep, the simple and wholesome food, in place of irregular and
unstudied diet, work out salvation for her.  Instead of being left to
go out-of-doors when she feels like it, the regular training of the
gymnasium, the boats on lake and river, the tennis court, the golf
links, the basket ball, the bicycle, the long walk among the woods in
search of botanical or geological specimens,--all these and many more
call to the busy student, until she realizes that they have their
rightful place in every well-ordered day of every month.  So she
learns, little by little, that buoyant health is a precious possession
to be won and kept.

It is significant that already statistical investigation in this
country and in England shows that the standard of health is higher
among the women who hold college degrees than among any other equal
number of the same age and class.  And it is interesting also to
observe to what sort of questions our recent girl graduates have been
inclined to devote attention.  They have been largely the neglected
problems of little children and their health, of home sanitation, of
food and its choice and preparation, of domestic service, of the
cleanliness of schools and public buildings. Colleges for girls are
pledged by their very constitution to make persistent war on the water
cure, the nervine retreat, the insane asylum, the hospital,--those
bitter fruits of the emotional lives of thousands of women.  "I can
never afford a sick headache again, life is so interesting and there is
so much to do," a delicate girl said to me at the end of her first
college year.  And while her mother was in a far-off invalid retreat,
she undertook the battle against fate with the same intelligence and
courage which she put into her calculus problems and her translations
of Sophocles. Her beautiful home and her rosy and happy children prove
the measure of her hard-won success.  Formerly the majority of
physicians had but one question for the mother of the nervous and
delicate girl, "Does she go to school?"  And only one prescription,
"Take her out of school."  Never a suggestion as to suppers of pickles
and pound-cake, never a hint about midnight dancing and hurried
day-time ways.  But now the sensible doctor asks, "What are her
interests? What are her tastes?  What are her habits?"  And he finds
new interests for her, and urges the formation of out-of-door tastes
and steady occupation for the mind, in order to draw the morbid girl
from herself into the invigorating world outside.  This the college
does largely through its third gift of friendship.

Until a girl goes away from home to school or college, her friends are
chiefly chosen for her by circumstances.  Her young relatives, her
neighbors in the same street, those who happen to go to the same school
or church,--these she makes her girlish intimates. She goes to college
with the entire conviction, half unknown to herself, that her father's
political party contains all the honest men, her mother's social circle
all the true ladies, her church all the real saints of the community.
And the smaller the town, the more absolute is her belief.  But in
college she finds that the girl who earned her scholarship in the
village school sits beside the banker's daughter; the New England
farmer's child rooms next the heiress of a Hawaiian sugar plantation;
the daughters of the opposing candidates in a sharply fought election
have grown great friends in college boats and laboratories; and before
her diploma is won she realizes how much richer a world she lives in
than she ever dreamed of at home.  The wealth that lies in differences
has dawned upon her vision.  It is only when the rich and poor sit down
together that either can understand how the Lord is the Maker of them

To-day above all things we need the influence of men and women of
friendliness, of generous nature, of hospitality to new ideas, in
short, of social imagination.  But instead, we find each political
party bitterly calling the other dishonest, each class suspicious of
the intentions of the other, and in social life the pettiest standards
of conduct.  Is it not well for us that the colleges all over the
country still offer to their fortunate students a society of the most
democratic sort,--one in which a father's money, a mother's social
position, can assure no distinction and make no close friends?  Here
capacity of every kind counts for its full value.  Here enthusiasm
waits to make heroes of those who can lead.  Here charming manners,
noble character, amiable temper, scholarly power, find their full
opportunity and inspire such friendships as are seldom made afterward.
I have forgotten my chemistry, and my classical philology cannot bear
examination; but all round the world there are men and women at work,
my intimates of college days, who have made the wide earth a friendly
place to me.  Of every creed, of every party, in far-away places and in
near, the thought of them makes me more courageous in duty and more
faithful to opportunity, though for many years we may not have had time
to write each other a letter.  The basis of all valuable and enduring
friendships is not accident or juxtaposition, but tastes, interests,
habits, work, ambitions.  It is for this reason that to college
friendship clings a romance entirely its own.  One of the friends may
spend her days in the laboratory, eagerly chasing the shy facts that
hide beyond the microscope's fine vision, and the other may fill her
hours and her heart with the poets and the philosophers; one may
steadfastly pursue her way toward the command of a hospital, and the
other towards the world of letters and of art; these divergences
constitute no barrier, but rather an aid to the fulness of friendship.
And the fact that one goes in a simple gown which she has earned and
made herself, and the other lives when at home in a merchant's modern
palace--what has that to do with the things the girls care about and
the dreams they talk over in the walk by the river or the bicycle ride
through country roads?  If any young man to-day goes through Harvard
lonely, neglected, unfriended, if any girl lives solitary and wretched
in her life at Wellesley, it is their own fault.  It must be because
they are suspicious, unfriendly or disagreeable themselves.  Certainly
it is true that in the associations of college life, more than in any
other that the country can show, what is extraneous, artificial, and
temporary falls away, and the every-day relations of life and work take
on a character that is simple, natural, genuine.  And so it comes about
that the fourth gift of college life is ideals of personal character.

To some people the shaping ideals of what character should be, often
held unconsciously, come from the books they are given by the persons
whom they most admire before they are twenty years old.  The greatest
thing any friend or teacher, either in school or college, can do for a
student is to furnish him with a personal ideal.  The college
professors who transformed me through my acquaintance with them--ah,
they were few, and I am sure I did not have a dozen conversations with
them outside their class rooms--gave me, each in his different way, an
ideal of character, of conduct, of the scholar, the leader, of which
they and I were totally unconscious at the time.  For many years I have
known that my study with them, no matter whether of philosophy or of
Greek, of mathematics or history or English, enlarged my notions of
life, uplifted my standards of culture, and so inspired me with new
possibilities of usefulness and of happiness.  Not the facts and
theories that I learned so much as the men who taught me, gave this
inspiration.  The community at large is right in saying that it wants
the personal influence of professors on students, but it is wholly
wrong in assuming that this precious influence comes from frequent
meetings or talks on miscellaneous subjects.  There is quite as likely
to be a quickening force in the somewhat remote and mysterious power of
the teacher who devotes himself to amassing treasures of scholarship,
or to patiently working out the best methods of teaching; who standing
somewhat apart, still remains an ideal of the Christian scholar, the
just, the courteous man or woman.  To come under the influence of one
such teacher is enough to make college life worthwhile.  A young man
who came to Harvard with eighty cents in his pocket, and worked his way
through, never a high scholar, and now in a business which looks very
commonplace, told me the other day that he would not care to be alive
if he had not gone to college.  His face flushed as he explained how
different his days would have been if he had not known two of his
professors.  "Do you use your college studies in your business?" I
asked.  "Oh, no!" he answered.  "But I am another man in doing the
business; and when the day's work is done I live another life because
of my college experiences.  The business and I are both the better for
it every day."  How many a young girl has had her whole horizon
extended by the changed ideals she gained in college! Yet this is
largely because the associations and studies there are likely to give
her permanent interests--the fifth and perhaps the greatest gift of
college life of which I shall speak.

The old fairy story which charmed us in childhood ended with--"And they
were married and lived happy ever after."  It conducted to the altar,
having brought the happy pair through innumerable difficulties, and
left us with the contented sense that all the mistakes and problems
would now vanish and life be one long day of unclouded bliss.  I have
seen devoted and intelligent mothers arrange their young daughters'
education and companionships precisely on this basis.  They planned as
if these pretty and charming girls were going to live only twenty or
twenty-five years at the utmost, and had consequently no need of the
wealthy interests that should round out the full-grown woman's stature,
making her younger in feeling at forty than at twenty, and more lovely
and admired at eighty than at either.

Emerson in writing of beauty declares that "the secret of ugliness
consists not in irregular outline, but in being uninteresting.  We love
any forms, however ugly, from which great qualities shine. If command,
eloquence, art, or invention exists in the most deformed person, all
the accidents that usually displease, please, and raise esteem and
wonder higher.  Beauty without grace is the head without the body.
Beauty without expression tires."  Of course such considerations can
hardly come with full force to the young girl herself, who feels aged
at eighteen, and imagines that the troubles and problems of life and
thought are hers already. "Oh, tell me to-night," cried a college
freshman once to her President, "which is the right side and which is
the wrong side of this Andover question about eschatology?"  The young
girl is impatient of open questions, and irritated at her inability to
answer them.  Neither can she believe that the first headlong zest with
which she throws herself into society, athletics, into everything which
comes in her way, can ever fail.  But her elders know, looking on, that
our American girl, the comrade of her parents and of her brothers and
their friends, brought up from babyhood in the eager talk of politics
and society, of religious belief, of public action, of social
responsibility--that this typical girl, with her quick sympathies, her
clear head, her warm heart, her outreaching hands, will not permanently
be satisfied or self-respecting, though she have the prettiest dresses
and hats in town, or the most charming of dinners, dances, and teas.
Unless there comes to her, and comes early, the one chief happiness of
life,--a marriage of comradeship,--she must face for herself the
question, "What shall I do with my life?"

I recall a superb girl of twenty as I overtook her one winter morning
hurrying along Commonwealth Avenue.  She spoke of a brilliant party at
a friend's the previous evening.  "But, oh!" she cried, throwing up her
hands in a kind of hopeless impatience, "tell me what to do.  My
dancing days are over!"  I laughed at her, "Have you sprained your
ankle?"  But I saw I had made a mistake when she added, "It is no
laughing matter.  I have been out three years.  I have not done what
they expected of me," with a flush and a shrug, "and there is a crowd
of nice girls coming on this winter; and anyway, I am so tired of going
to teas and ball-games and assemblies!  I don't care the least in the
world for foreign missions, and," with a stamp, "I am not going
slumming among the Italians.  I have too much respect for the Italians.
And what shall I do with the rest of my life?"  That was a frank
statement of what any girl of brains or conscience feels, with more or
less bitter distinctness, unless she marries early, or has some
pressing work for which she is well trained.

Yet even if that which is the profession of woman par excellence be
hers, how can she be perennially so interesting a companion to her
husband and children as if she had keen personal tastes, long her own,
and growing with her growth?  Indeed, in that respect the condition of
men is almost the same as that of women.  It would be quite the same
were it not for the fact that a man's business or profession is
generally in itself a means of growth, of education, of dignity.  He
leans his life against it.  He builds his home in the shadow of it.  It
binds his days together in a kind of natural piety and makes him
advance in strength and nobility as he "fulfils the common round, the
daily task."  And that is the reason why men in the past, if they have
been honorable men, have grown old better than women.  Men usually
retain their ability longer, their mental alertness and hospitality.
They add fine quality to fine quality, passing from strength to
strength and preserving in old age whatever has been best in youth.  It
was a sudden recognition of this fact which made a young friend of mine
say last winter, "I am not going to parties any more; the men best
worth talking with are too old to dance."

Even with the help of a permanent business or profession, however, the
most interesting men I know are those who have an avocation as well as
a vocation.  I mean a taste or work quite apart from the business of
life.  This revives, inspires, and cultivates them perpetually.  It
matters little what it is, if only it is real and personal, is large
enough to last, and possesses the power of growth.  A young sea-captain
from a New England village on a long and lonely voyage falls upon a
copy of Shelley.  Appeal is made to his fine but untrained mind, and
the book of the boy poet becomes the seaman's university.  The wide
world of poetry and of the other fine arts is opened, and the
Shelleyian specialist becomes a cultivated, original, and charming man.
A busy merchant loves flowers, and in all his free hours studies them.
Each new spring adds knowledge to his knowledge, and his friends
continually bring him their strange discoveries.  With growing wealth
he cultivates rare and beautiful plants, and shares them with his
fortunate acquaintances.  Happy the companion invited to a walk or a
drive with such observant eyes, such vivid talk!  Because of this
cheerful interest in flowers, and this ingenious skill in dealing with
them, the man himself is interesting.  All his powers are alert, and
his judgment is valued in public life and in private business.  Or is
it more exact to say that because he is the kind of man who would
insist upon having such interests outside his daily work, he is still
fresh and young and capable of growth at an age when many other men are
dull and old and certain that the time of decay is at hand?

There are two reasons why women need to cultivate these large and
abiding interests even more persistently than men.  In the first place,
they have more leisure.  They are indeed the only leisure class in the
country, the only large body of persons who are not called upon to win
their daily bread in direct wage-earning ways.  As yet, fortunately,
few men among us have so little self-respect as to idle about our
streets and drawing-rooms because their fathers are rich enough to
support them.  We are not without our unemployed poor; but roving
tramps and idle clubmen are after all not of large consequence.  Our
serious, non-producing classes are chiefly women.  It is the regular
ambition of the chivalrous American to make all the women who depend on
him so comfortable that they need do nothing for themselves.  Machinery
has taken nearly all the former occupations of women out of the home
into the shop and factory.  Widespread wealth and comfort, and the
inherited theory that it is not well for the woman to earn money so
long as father or brothers can support her, have brought about a
condition of things in which there is social danger, unless with the
larger leisure are given high and enduring interests.  To health
especially there is great danger, for nothing breaks down a woman's
health like idleness and its resulting ennui.  More people, I am sure,
are broken down nervously because they are bored, than because they are
overworked; and more still go to pieces through fussiness, unwholesome
living, worry over petty details, and the daily disappointments which
result from small and superficial training.  And then, besides the
danger to health, there is the danger to character.  I need not dwell
on the undermining influence which men also feel when occupation is
taken away and no absorbing private interest fills the vacancy.  The
vices of luxurious city life are perhaps hardly more destructive to
character than is the slow deterioration of barren country life.
Though the conditions in the two cases are exactly opposite, the
trouble is often the same,--absence of noble interests.  In the city
restless idleness organizes amusement; in the country deadly dulness
succeeds daily toil.

But there is a second reason why a girl should acquire for herself
strong and worthy interests.  The regular occupations of women in their
homes are generally disconnected and of little educational value, at
least as those homes are at present conducted.  Given the best will in
the world, the daily doing of household details becomes a wearisome
monotony if the mere performance of them is all.  To make drudgery
divine a woman must have a brain to plan and eyes to see how to "sweep
a room as to God's laws."  Imagination and knowledge should be the
hourly companions of her who would make a fine art of each detail in
kitchen and nursery.  Too long has the pin been the appropriate symbol
of the average woman's life--the pin, which only temporarily holds
together things which may or may not have any organic connection with
one another.  While undoubtedly most women must spend the larger part
of life in this modest pin-work, holding together the little things of
home and school and society and church, it is also true, that cohesive
work itself cannot be done well, even in humble circumstances, except
by the refined, the trained, the growing woman.  The smallest village,
the plainest home, give ample space for the resources of the trained
college woman.  And the reason why such homes and such villages are so
often barren of grace and variety is just because these fine qualities
have not ruled them.  The higher graces of civilization halt among us;
dainty and finished ways of living give place to common ways, while
vulgar tastes, slatternly habits, clouds and despondency reign in the
house.  Little children under five years of age die in needless
thousands because of the dull, unimaginative women on whom they depend.
Such women have been satisfied with just getting along, instead of
packing everything they do with brains, instead of studying the best
possible way of doing everything small or large; for there is always a
best way, whether of setting a table, of trimming a hat, or teaching a
child to read.  And this taste for perfection can be cultivated;
indeed, it must be cultivated, if our standards of living are to be
raised. There is now scientific knowledge enough, there is money
enough, to prevent the vast majority of the evils which afflict our
social organism, if mere knowledge or wealth could avail; but the
greater difficulty is to make intelligence, character, good taste,
unselfishness prevail.

What, then, are the interests which powerfully appeal to mind and
heart, and so are fitted to become the strengthening companions of a
woman's life?  I shall mention only three, all of them such as are
elaborately fostered by college life.  The first is the love of great
literature.  I do not mean that use of books by which a man may get
what is called a good education and so be better qualified for the
battle of life, nor do I mention books in their character as reservoirs
of knowledge, books which we need for special purposes, and which are
no longer of consequence when our purpose with them is served.  I have
in mind the great books, especially the great poets, books to be
adopted as a resource and a solace.  The chief reason why so many
people do not know how to make comrades of such books is because they
have come to them too late.  We have in this country enormous numbers
of readers, probably a larger number who read, and who read many hours
in the week, than has ever been known elsewhere in the world.  But what
do these millions read besides the newspapers?  Possibly a
denominational religious weekly and another journal of fashion or
business.  Then come the thousands who read the best magazines, and
whatever else is for the moment popular in novels and poetry--the last
dialect story, the fashionable poem, the questionable but talked-of
novel.  Let a violent attack be made on the decency of a new story and
instantly, if only it is clever, its author becomes famous.

But the fashions in reading of a restless race--the women too idle, the
men too heavily worked--I will not discuss here.  Let light literature
be devourered by our populace as his drug is taken by the opium-eater,
and with a similar narcotic effect.  We can only seek out the children,
and hope by giving them from babyhood bits of the noblest literature,
to prepare them for the great opportunities of mature life.  I urge,
therefore, reading as a mental stimulus, as a solace in trouble, a
perpetual source of delight; and I would point out that we must not
delay to make the great friendships that await us on the library
shelves until sickness shuts the door on the outer world, or death
enters the home and silences the voices that once helped to make these
friendships sweet.  If Homer and Shakespeare and Wordsworth and
Browning are to have meaning for us when we need them most, it will be
because they come to us as old familiar friends whose influences have
permeated the glad and busy days before.  The last time I heard James
Russell Lowell talk to college girls, he said,--for he was too ill to
say many words--"I have only this one message to leave with you.  In
all your work in college never lose sight of the reason why you have
come here.  It is not that you may get something by which to earn your
bread, but that every mouthful of bread may be the sweeter to your

And this is the power possessed by the mighty dead,--men of every time
and nation, whose voices death cannot silence, who are waiting even at
the poor man's elbow, whose illuminating words may be had for the price
of a day's work in the kitchen or the street, for lack of love of whom
many a luxurious home is a dull and solitary spot, breeding misery and
vice.  Now the modern college is especially equipped to introduce its
students to such literature. The library is at last understood to be
the heart of the college. The modern librarian is not the keeper of
books, as was his predecessor, but the distributer of them, and the
guide to their resources, proud when he increases the use of his
treasures.  Every language, ancient or modern, which contains a
literature is now taught in college.  Its history is examined, its
philology, its masterpieces, and more than ever is English literature
studied and loved.  There is now every opportunity for the college
student to become an expert in the use of his own tongue and pen.  What
other men painfully strive for he can enjoy to the full with
comparatively little effort.

But there is a second invigorating interest to which college training
introduces its student.  I mean the study of nature, intimacy with the
strange and beautiful world in which we live. "Nature never did betray
the heart that loved her," sang her poet high priest.  When the world
has been too much with us, nothing else is so refreshing to tired eyes
and mind as woods and water, and an intelligent knowledge of the life
within them. For a generation past there has been a well-nigh universal
turning of the population toward the cities.  In 1840 only nine per
cent of our people lived in cities of 8,000 inhabitants or more.  Now
more than a third of us are found in cities.  But the electric-car, the
telephone, the bicycle, still keep avenues to the country open. Certain
it is that city people feel a growing hunger for the country,
particularly when grass begins to grow.  This is a healthy taste, and
must increase the general knowledge and love of nature. Fortunate are
the little children in those schools whose teachers know and love the
world in which they live.  Their young eyes are early opened to the
beauty of birds and trees and plants.  Not only should we expect our
girls to have a feeling for the fine sunset or the wide-reaching
panorama of field and water, but to know something also about the less
obvious aspects of nature, its structure, its methods of work, and the
endless diversity of its parts.  No one can have read Matthew Arnold's
letters to his wife, his mother, and his sister, without being struck
by the immense enjoyment he took throughout his singularly simple and
hard-working life in flowers and trees and rivers.  The English lake
country had given him this happy inheritance, with everywhere its sound
of running water and its wealth of greenery.  There is a close
connection between the marvellous unbroken line of English song, and
the passionate love of the Englishman for a home in the midst of birds,
trees, and green fields.

  "The world is so full of a number of things,
  That I think we should all be as happy as kings,"

is the opinion of everybody who knows nature as did Robert Louis
Stevenson.  And so our college student may begin to know it.  Let her
enter the laboratories and investigate for herself.  Let her make her
delicate experiments with the blowpipe or the balance; let her track
mysterious life from one hiding-place to another; let her "name all the
birds without a gun," and make intimates of flower and fish and
butterfly--and she is dull indeed if breezy tastes do not follow her
through life, and forbid any of her days to be empty of intelligent
enjoyment.  "Keep your years beautiful; make your own atmosphere," was
the parting advice of my college president, himself a living
illustration of what he said.

But it is a short step from the love of the complex and engaging world
in which we live to the love of our comrades in it.  Accordingly the
third precious interest to be cultivated by the college student is an
interest in people.  The scholar today is not a being who dwells apart
in his cloister, the monk's successor; he is a leader of the thoughts
and conduct of men.  So the new subjects which stand beside the
classics and mathematics of medieval culture are history, economics,
ethics, and sociology.  Although these subjects are as yet merely in
the making, thousands of students are flocking to their investigation,
and are going out to try their tentative knowledge in College
Settlements and City Missions and Children's Aid Societies.  The best
instincts of generous youth are becoming enlisted in these living
themes.  And why should our daughters remain aloof from the most
absorbing work of modern city life, work quite as fascinating to young
women as to young men?  During many years of listening to college
sermons and public lectures in Wellesley, I always noticed a quickened
attention in the audience whenever the discussion touched politics or
theology.  These are, after all, the permanent and peremptory
interests, and they should be given their full place in a healthy and
vigorous life.

But if that life includes a love of books, of nature, of people, it
will naturally turn to enlarged conceptions of religion--my sixth and
last gift of college life.  In his first sermon as Master of Balliol
College, Dr. Jowett spoke of the college, "First as a place of
education, secondly as a place of society, thirdly as a place of
religion."  He observed that "men of very great ability often fail in
life because they are unable to play their part with effect.  They are
shy, awkward, self-conscious, deficient in manners, faults which are as
ruinous as vices."  The supreme end of college training, he said, "is
usefulness in after life." Similarly, when the city of Cambridge
celebrated in Harvard's Memorial Hall the life and death of the gallant
young ex-governor of Massachusetts, William E. Russell, men did well to
hang above his portrait some wise words he has lately said, "Never
forget the everlasting difference between making a living and making a
life." That he himself never forgot; and it was well to remind citizens
and students of it, as they stood there facing too the ancient words
all Harvard men face when they take their college degrees and go out
into the world, "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the
firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for
ever and ever."  Good words these to go out from college with.  The
girls of Wellesley gather every morning at chapel to bow their heads
together for a moment before they scatter among the libraries and
lecture-rooms and begin the experiments of the new day.  And always
their college motto meets the eyes that are raised to its penetrating
message, "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister."  How many a
young heart has loyally responded, "And to give life a ransom for
many."  That is the "Wellesley spirit;" and the same sweet spirit of
devout service has gone forth from all our college halls.  In any of
them one may catch the echo of Whittier's noble psalm,--

  "O Lord and Master of us all
  Whate'er our name or sign,
  We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
  We test our lives by Thine."

That is the supreme test of life,--its consecrated serviceableness. The
Master of Balliol was right; the brave men and women who founded our
schools and colleges were not wrong.  "For Christ and the Church"
universities were set up in the wilderness of New England; for the
large service of the State they have been founded and maintained at
public cost in every section of the country where men have settled,
from the Alleghanies across the prairies and Rocky Mountains down to
the Golden Gate.  Founded primarily as seats of learning, their
teachers have been not only scientists and linguists, philosophers and
historians, but men and women of holy purposes, sound patriotism,
courageous convictions, refined and noble tastes.  Set as these
teachers have been upon a hill, their light has at no period of our
country's history been hid.  They have formed a large factor in our
civilization, and in their own beautiful characters have continually
shown us how to combine religion and life, the ideal and practical, the
human and the divine.

Such are some of the larger influences to be had from college life. It
is true all the good gifts I have named may be secured without the aid
of the college.  We all know young men and women who have had no
college training, who are as cultivated, rational, resourceful, and
happy as any people we know, who excel in every one of these
particulars the college graduates about them.  I believe they often
bitterly regret the lack of a college education.  And we see young men
and women going through college deaf and blind to their great chances
there, and afterwards curiously careless and wasteful of the best
things in life.  While all this is true, it is true too that to the
open-minded and ambitious boy or girl of moderate health, ability,
self-control, and studiousness, a college course offers the most
attractive, easy, and probable way of securing happiness and health,
good friends and high ideals, permanent interests of a noble kind, and
large capacity for usefulness in the world.  It has been well said that
the ability to see great things large and little things small is the
final test of education.  The foes of life, especially of women's
lives, are caprice, wearisome incapacity and petty judgments.  From
these oppressive foes we long to escape to the rule of right reason,
where all things are possible, and life becomes a glory instead of a
grind.  No college, with the best teachers and collections in the
world, can by its own power impart all this to any woman.  But if one
has set her face in that direction, where else can she find so many
hands reached out to help, so many encouraging voices in the air, so
many favoring influences filling the days and nights?

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Why Go to College? an address" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.