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ADMISSION OF STUDENTS AT THE HIGHER INSTITUTIONS.
One of the most significant movements in education during the last 30 years has been the growth of the secondary schools. From 1890 to 1917-18 the attendance at universities, colleges, and professional schools increased from 156,449 to 375,359, or 139 per cent; whereas the increase in high-school students for the corresponding period was 710 per cent. While therefore there is a constantly increasing proportion of the population which is entering college, the proportion of high-school students who go to college is steadily decreasing
This fact has produced among the public school administrators of the country an insistent demand that the higher institutions reduce the specific requirements for entrance to college to a minimum, in order that the curriculum of the high school may be freed from the control which college entrance requirements have always exercised. The demands of the public school administrators and others interested in liberalizing college entrance requirements have found their most advanced expression in laws which have been passed in Ohio and Kansas and in regulations which have been adopted by the State board of education in Iowa.
In Iowa the State board of education adopted regulations in 1919 providing that:
1. A graduate of any Iowa public four-year high school will be admitted without examination to such collegiate work as he is prepared to pursue in the State University of Iowa, the Iowa State College, and the Iowa State Teachers College upon presenting a certificate signed by its principal, specifying the branches of study and credits included within his high-school course. A graduate of any four-year high school, seminary, or academy approved by the board of secondary school relations will be admitted on the same basis.
2. It should be clearly understood that this arrangement does not affect the requirements for college graduation.
3. If a high-school graduate does not meet present admission requirements to the course he desires to pursue, the deficiency must be removed at the institution entered. Credit earning in removing such deficiencies will not be applied toward college graduation in the specific course chosen.
4. Provision will be made at the State institutions for the removal of all deficiencies for admission to specific courses.
The Kansas law, passed in 1915, states that: Any person who shall complete a four-year course of study in any high school accredited by the State board of education shall be entitled to admission to the freshman class of the State university, the State agricultural college, or any of the State normal schools, on presenting a statement containing a transcript of his high-school record signed by the principal of the school and certifying that such person has satisfactorily completed said course of study.
One who is familiar with the narrow entrance requirements of higher institutions some years ago and with the public interest in vocational education which has swept the country in recent years can understand the movement for liberalizing college entrance requirements, but it is somewhat difficult to realize that the situation should be so thoroughly reversed as to give the higher institutions no control whatever over the requirements for the admission of students.
The natural result of legislation of this type is to produce a cleavage between an endless variety of high-school curricula and the college courses of study which students enter. Students who have taken large quantities of vocational and nonpreparatory work in high school come to college with inadequate preparation in basic courses, such as English, mathematics, and languages. The experience of the higher institutions in Kansas is well expressed by Dean Walker, of the University School of Engineering, in the last biennial report, as follows:
Attention is called to a very serious condition that is developing. Students are coming in large numbers inadequately prepared in mathematics. When they have been permitted to pass through high school with only one year devoted to algebra and that the first year, they come to the university hopelessly handicapped, practically ignorant of the first principles of the subject. They can not carry the standard course in college algebra but must take supplementary work, necessitating the postponement of something else, and so are made irregular at the start. It is seldom that such students are able to graduate in four years.
The evidence concerning the inability of graduates from the high schools in Kansas to meet the so-called entrance requirements is contained in the following table. When it is recalled that the specific requirements of these two institutions, as at most other higher institutions in the country, are less numerous now than in former years, the situation is all the more distressing.
Entrance deficiencies of graduates from accredited high schools in Kansas, 1921–22.
Graduated from accredited
Number of deficiencies in
University of Kansas...
27.5 | 61 | 91 | 12 943
1 165 382 753 451
1 At the university a student is not permitted to offer more than 3 units from a group of miscellaneous units. In accepting certificates from accredited high schools in Kansas, however, the university found 165 students who had an excess of miscellaneous units.
In part on account of this situation the university has devised a five-year course of study in engineering. The first year of this curriculum is composed entirely of basic courses in the college of liberal arts and sciences. The catalogue states significantly that “the fiveyear plan is recommended strongly for recent graduates of high schools."
Both at the agricultural college and the university students who come inadequately prepared in algebra are given a five-hour course in college algebra instead of the usual three-hour course. At the former if there is a deficiency in solid geometry students are required to take a two-hour course in that subject. Students deficient in physics are given a four-hour course in the secondary school of agriculture. In the general science curriculum students are given college credit for all these courses; in the division of engineering it is at the option of the dean whether college credit is given for them.
The situation at the agricultural college is an illustration of the inevitable effect of laws of this nature on the curriculum of the college. It is all very well for proponents of such measures to insist as in the Iowa regulations that “this arrangement does not affect the requirements for college graduation.” The fact is that it has proved impossible for higher institutions to resist the pressure to repeat secondary work in college and to give college credit for work that is essentially of high-school character. In this way the higher institutions, instead of gradually dropping elementary work in languages, rhetoric, history, mathematics, physics, and other subjects to the high schools where they belong, are constantly under the necessity of repeating an increasing proportion of the high-school curriculum for college credit. Under these circumstances administrative difficulties are multiplied and the higher institutions develop with increasing difficulty their legitimate function of higher education.
Aside, however, from these difficulties is the gross injustice done to students in high school when they are allowed to presume that the completion of any high-school curriculum is preparatory to college. If an institution attempts to hold rigidly to the completion of a thorough curriculum, such students are confronted with the necessity of making up a considerable amount of work, thus throwing on these students the burden of increased work and irregular schedules. Many such students prove unequal to the added burden and are compelled to withdraw from college. Presently it appears to the administrative officers that the most satisfactory method of avoiding these difficulties is to require for entrance to professional curricula one or two years of preprofessional work in arts and sciences, as in medicine, dentistry, law, and now, perhaps, in engineering. The commission is convinced that these preprofessional requirements would not be so numerous to-day if there were at present a close correlation between the high-school curriculum and the particular curriculum which a student enters at college. College and university students are paying a high price for the lack of college entrance requirements and for such laws as now appear on the Kansas statute books.
In this connection it may be well to quote the standard regarding entrance to college which was adopted recently by the committee on standards of the American Council on Education and recommended to the several accrediting agencies in the United States:
A college should demand for admission the satisfactory completion of a four-year course in a secondary school approved by a recognized accrediting agency or the equivalent of such a course. The major portion of the secondary school course accepted for admission should be definitely correlated with the curriculum to which the student is admitted.
To the commission it appears as if more cognizance of the needs of both college preparatory students and noncollege preparatory students should be taken. The last figures of the United States Bureau of Education showed that although the proportion of high school gra:uates who go to college is steadily diminishing, yet about 51 per cent of the graduates of high schools at the present time go to college. Surely the one-half who do go to college deserves as much if not more consideration than those who for one reason or another do not do so. The commission is convinced, therefore, that the Kansas law is wrong in principle; that it should be repealed; and that steps should be taken to organize the high schools into sufficiently large units to meet more adequately the needs of students who go to college as well as those who do not.
Until that time comes the commission suggests that the State institutions join with the privately supported institutions in the State in calling the attention of high-school students to the subjects given in the high school which are preparatory to the several curricula at college or university. Concerted action of this type in Oregon has resulted in rebridging to a considerable extent the gap between high school and college.
On account of the law requiring the admission of graduates from accredited high schools in Kansas the admission officers at the several institutions are not given much leeway. They have the liberty of holding students who come from secondary schools outside the State and graduates from unaccredited high schools in the State rigidly to the so-called entrance requirements published by each institution.
At the university students from unaccredited high schools are required to take entrance examinations in all their subjects. Students with conditions are not admitted.
At the agricultural college graduates of unaccredited high schools are admitted on the same basis with those from the accredited high schools, except that they are held to the specific or prescribed requirements published in the catalogue. Students may be admitted with one unit condition, which must be made up during the first year that the student is in attendance. If not made up within that time, college credits are taken in its place.
At the Hays Normal School students from unaccredited high schools are also admitted on the same basis with those from accredited high schools, providing the length of the course and the recitation periods conform to the standard definition of a unit. Students from schools where there is a deficiency of this character are required to make up the requisite amount of work in the academy. Students are admitted with two entrance conditions, and at any time during the year. County teachers' certificates are also recognized for the various high-school units which each requires.
At the normal school at Pittsburg the graduates of unaccredited high schools are received on the same basis as those from the accredited high schools, provided they meet substantially the graduation requirements of the high school at the normal school. Until July 1, 1921, teachers with first-grade certificates were allowed 7 units credit and required to offer only 8 additional units for entrance. No credits for county certificates are now given except through examination. Students who have done postgraduate work in high schools may receive through the accrediting committee, consisting of the president, the registrar,and the dean, normal school credit without examination. Students are admitted with one entrance condition, which may be made up either in the training school or through college crédit, depending on the age of the students. As at Hays, students are admitted at any time during the school year. Students in the industrial engineering courses of study, although regarded as of collegiate grade, are for the most part graduates of a one-year trade course. About 33 per cent of them only are graduates of high school. The entrance records at Pittsburg were far behind and in bad condition.
At the Kansas State Normal School students from unaccredited high schools are examined in four representative lines of the highschool curriculum, such as English, history, mathematics, and science. Students are allowed to enter with one condition. Those who enter with two or more conditions are classified as high-school students. College credit for postgraduate work following the completion of a four-year curriculum may be secured by examination, but has not been done for at least two years. As at Hays and Pittsburg, students are allowed to enter at any time during the year. The registrar's records were remarkably well kept.
On the whole thé commission felt that entrance requirements, so far as it was in the power of the institutions to safeguard them, were being well enforced. Obviously the university and the Emporia