« AnteriorContinuar »
one influence or another, enter business service, and, of course, make but poor showing in competition with energetic, naturally bright and ambitious non-college men. In many instances of dissatisfaction on the part of employers with college men, we have found that conclusions have been drawn on the basis of experience with but one college man, and he, unfortunately, of one of these types that seldom succeeds in business. Happily, these types of college men constitute a minority.
But the success of a college man relative to a non-college man will depend also upon the nature of the business which he enters. Some services are of such a nature as to demand certain natural abilities, and do not require for their successful performance such additional abilities as may be developed by college training and life. The particular personality and trading instinct that makes, in the majority of instances, the successful retail or wholesale salesman is not peculiar to the college man.
Yet in some lines of salesmanship, as of bonds, the average college man is more successful than the average noncollège man. The additional abilities given by college life and training are a more intelligent understanding of his wares and a better adaptability in personal intercourse to the individuals who constitute this particular market. In the lower routine functions of a great manufacturing institution the non-college man is perhaps as efficient as the college man; the abilities called into exercise are possessed by one as well as the other ; but-and this is the reason why many concerns send their agents to colleges toward the end of the academic year in search of prospective graduates—the college man on the whole develops 1 more rapidly than his non-college competitor, and may be advanced earlier in his career to superior and more responsible positions. It depends, therefore, upon the nature of the business service whether college training is of advantage to the individual. In those businesses which have developed, in the manner described, in size, in complexity, and in the delicate nature of the problems which they present, the abilities developed by college training will prove of advantage. In the many businesses which have not so developed the advantage may be little or nothing. But the latter group of businesses is not the one which offers big prizes to ambitious young men.
The group which does offer prizes to ambitious young men is the group whose businesses have so developed in the complexity of organization and of problems as to demand of those young men entering their services broadness of view, the capacity for perceiving relationships, of distinguishing the important from the unimportant, and other capacities referred to in an earlier paragraph. The young man entering the lower positions of these businesses to-day has before him a much more difficult hill to climb than the young man who entered them when the organization was limited and less complex. Then the young man could look out from his particular position upon the business as a whole and observe the working of parts and their relationship; then he could be easily transferred from one position to another as a general utility man; he could grow by equal paces with the business. That is the story of many of those business men who, looking back on their own careers, advise the young man of to-day to abandon the idea of a college education and to get into business service at once.
But they fail to realize the revolution which has taken place. To-day the young man is set to the performance of a routine function in a specialized department; he is but a cog in a great machine; ) he cannot get that outlook upon the business as a whole which will enable him to comprehend the relation of his duties to the whole; he cannot be transferred from department to department, for the day of the general utility man is past; he cannot grow with the business, for the business is already gigantic. The obstacles in the way of such self-development as will compel promotion are great. What the young man of to-day needs when he enters the service of such an institution is the capacity for finding hidden facts ; for perceiving hidden relationships and for accurately reasoning out their significance.
This capacity college training and college life help to develop. College life tends to develop other capacities not less useful; especially, because that life is cosmopolitan, the ability to adjust one's self as occasion demands to individuals of differ-1 ent moods; but it also develops the ability to think quickly. The ability to think quickly is the result of the compact of young thought upon young thought, of fresh thought upon fresh thought, of hot thought upon hot thought. But whatever
the contribution of college life to the development of the qualities necessary to one who would succeed under modern business conditions, it is the college class room which contributes most. The class room contributes by the discipline it imposes ) and by the information it imparts.
That the college class room develops the capacity to find facts, to weigh and give value to facts, and to arrive at fairly accurate conclusions on the basis of ascertained facts, will be denied only by those unacquainted with the college student. Nothing is more certain to those who are in a position to know than that it exerts this influence. One of the essential differences between the under classman and the
classman is the difference in respect to this capacity. On the one hand is the under classman, who attempts “ to learn” with equal intensity every fact in the instructor's assignment, who reports them to the instructor as of equal value, who sees in them little beyond the bare facts themselves; on the other hand is the upper classman, who goes at facts with an intensity relative to their respective importance, who considers it “ bluffing the instructor” to present in the class room facts irrelevant to the point at issue, who sees some principle behind the bare facts he has studied. It is the difference in capacity in this respect, brought about by the discipline of college methods of instruction, which makes it possible for the upper classman to receive with equanimity an assignment of forty or fifty pages for a lesson when the under classman is appalled at an assignment of a dozen or fifteen pages. The capacity required of a young man entering business service is not different in nature and quality from this capacity developed in the class room; business requires merely a different application of it.
That the college contributes to the development of business efficiency by the information it imparts is no less indisputable than that it contributes by its discipline. This is denied principally by those who know the college only through acquaintance with the older, narrower curriculum. While admitting that the earlier, exclusively classical curriculum was valuable on account of its discipline, it is asserted that it had to do with subject-matter wholly unrelated to business.
It is unnecessary for us to consider that opinion, for the college curriculum has
become so widened that the criticism cannot be maintained. The great development within the last twenty-five years of courses in science, in theoretical and applied economics, and more recently of specific courses in business administration, and so on, has set such opinion completely to one side. In the leading colleges and universities it is possible now for the student to devote nearly one third of the college period to courses I the subject matter of which consists of facts and principles relating to industry. That is as great specialization as is warranted, even from the point of view of business efficiency.
It is in recognition of the value of the discipline and of the information imparted by college training that many business men have come to the view expressed in the words of the general manager of a large industrial corporation : “I have come to prefer men who have worked their way through college ; who have worked their way, because that is a partial guarantee that the men are of the right temperament; who have received a college training, because, on the average, such men show a greater intelligence, a greater capacity for earning promotion than the non-college man. The following tables seem to support this view. One table is the result of an investigation of the training and promotion in terms of wages of the employees of several machinery manufacturing firms, by Mr. James M. Dodge, formerly president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The other is a study of training and promotion in terms of wages of the employees of a large number of miscellaneous manufacturing and mercantile institutions, by Mr. Herbert J. Hapgood, and published in System of December, 1904. Private investigations of our own support the conclusions which must be drawn from these tables. The figures represent ages and average wage per week at a given age.
7 50 10 00
9 00 14 00 17 00
18 00 36 00
It is evident, therefore, that under the existing business régime, of young men endowed with a natural capacity for business, those who are college trained advance more rapidly to positions of responsibility than those who begin their business apprenticeship immediately upon leaving the high school. Why, it may be asked, if we see this efficiency in college training, do we need the addition of special courses of higher commercial education of which the past decade has witnessed the rapid development?
The development of the school of higher commercial education is not a protest against the efficiency of college training for the young men destined to enter upon a business career; it is a protest, if it be a protest at all, against the sufficiency of the college course for that purpose. It is, in fact, based upon the observation of the value of college training for the prospective business man. If a general or slightly specialized college course increases the capacity of its students for business services, will not a more specialized course of training, which, notwithstanding its specialized nature, preserves the disciplinary / influences of the general course, prove still more effective? Some ten years ago, in response to a belief on the part of some educators and of some business men that such special courses were essential to the proper training of young men for business careers, a number of universities and colleges established courses of this nature.
These courses of higher commercial education present various forms of organization, especially as regards their relation' to the general college course. Two types have developed. One type, consisting of all the institutions but one, has added to the college undergraduate curriculum certain courses dealing with industrial conditions and methods. The commercial course, considered as a whole in these institutions, consists of