April, 1930



There is danger involved in merely being alive. You cannot cross a street without chancing an automobilious death.  When you prepare for a railroad trip, the ticket agent always strongly suggests accident insurance. Your every-day routine involves hazards; —a fall on the stairs, an infection, a gas explosion, a cut by glass or tools, acute indigestion, —what not? You cannot do so prosaic a thing as take a bath without risking being one of the thousand odd who slip, and wrench a back, sprain a ligament, or bruise some corners of their anatomies.

Quite to be expected, therefore, are the hazards in going to school!

We have often wondered and even guessed at what becomes of our entering freshmen. Professor A. A. Reed a few years ago made some studies for the University as a whole. But it was not until this year that we have compiled data on engineering freshmen as individuals rather than collectively. We are just completing an analysis, for the three classes entering in three successive Septembers—1923, 1924, 1925 -- Some rather striking facts appear.

There are many different ways of looking at the data, some of which I shall take here. The tabular form will permit one more quickly to grasp the significance of the figures, and will indicate verv effectively both similarities and contrasts.

Withdrawals are voluntary, and include failure to return at the beginning of a later semester. This accounts for the comparatively large number of unexplained withdrawals. In offering reasons for withdrawals, the explanation given by the student is accepted and recorded.   Perhaps "Finances" and "Work" should be classed together.

Transfers to other colleges of the University are numerous, and indicate initial lack of understanding of the demands of an engineering course of study. The enlightening is usually rather prompt in its ar-rival- For example, of the 48 who transferred from the 1923 class, 16 remained in engineering only one semester, and 21 registered in engineering only twice. I have not followed them beyond the transfer point, so I cannot tell of their subsequent successes or failures.

One very startling element of the summary is the smallness of the number of men who graduate in eight semesters. The percentages for the three classes run 9.13, 16.9, and 9.53, respectively. For the three classes together, the percentage is 11.7.  It will be noted, however, that for the first class listed the total percentage of graduates has gradually crept up to 22.3, with a small number of individuals still in school. As an explanation of this may be offered the parallel record that approximately 90% of our engineering students report that they are at least partly self-supporting. Of course, the fraction of total expenses earned varies the full distance from zero to unity, with the middle range predominating.  Undoubtedly this contributes materially to the causes for delay, as it requires either reduced programs, or broken attendance.  For example, only 36 men of the 230 entrants in 1923 had uninterrupted attendance.

Many other important facts could lie brought out if we had space, but I cannot close without saying that we are instituting processes of instruction and advice to our students which we hope will be effective in reducing our losses. One can see with certainty, even after a cursory glance at such figures as I have presented,. that many students enter engineering ill-advisedly, while many others fail because they do not succeed in orienting themselves to the work promptly. We hope to correct to some extent these defects of our present system.