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Yet practical objectives have not given way to academic ones. Placing scholarship as one but not the only aim of education has been accompanied in some cases by a sacrifice of educational standards; availability of opportunity and the efforts to adjust entrance requirements to conditions in each State have often resulted in admitting poorly prepared students; and interest in serving the public has necessitated in some institutions the introduction of special and short courses which are of noncollegiate and vocational character. Nevertheless, these distinctly American colleges are important factors in training large numbers of men for responsible tasks in industry. These colleges have retained ideals of truly democratic education. They are raising the general standards of the industrial classes by supplying leaders who are good citizens as well as efficient technicians.
Chapter III. —Student Problems
Present practice.—The requirements for admission to engineering are uniform in the number and in the kind of high-school units demanded. The average requirement of land-grant engineering colleges increased from 11 high-school units in 1900 (23 institutions reporting), to 14 in 1910 (41 institutions reporting), and to 15 in 1920 (49 institutions reporting).
Prescribed units.—The prescribed units vary from 5 to 13, but 8 units are most generally specified. All of the institutions prescribe the minimum units in mathematics, English, physical or biological science, and social science, The general requirements are 3 units of mathematics, 3 units of English, 1 of physical or biological science, and 1 of social science. Only in 10 cases is foreign language a prescribed subject. However, records of admission indicate that in nearly all cases students offer ancient or modern foreign languages. Industrial arts and commercial subjects are often offered, but only in exceptional cases are more than three units accepted in these subjects. In the selection of the prescribed science units, preference is given to physics and chemistry. Preference for languages are stated as German, French, Latin, and Spanish, in the order given.
Method of admission.—The land-grant institutions, recognizing that they are an integral part of the public-school systems of their States, admit to the freshman class on credentials from accredited high schools. An exception of this rule is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which admits only by examination.
Sixteen institutions give either entrance or advanced credit for industrial experience. The amount granted is usually four entrance units or less, and an examination is usually required. Thirteen engineering colleges grant credit for education gained through informal means, but the student must establish such credit by examination.
Intelligence and objective tests.—No institutions require for admission intelligence or special objective tests, although 17 of the colleges are giving selective tests during the early part of the freshman year. Eight are experimenting with psychological tests.
Admission with conditions.—Nearly all engineering colleges admit students with conditions. Nine institutions report that 24.2 per cent of all students admitted in 1927 and 21.8 per cent of those admitted in 1928 had conditions in mathematics. The problem of "conditional students” is the same at nearly all institutions. Many highschool students are unfamiliar with the fixed entrance requirements of colleges and in large numbers of cases seek admission to engineering colleges without adequate mathematical preparation. A large
1 A high-school unit represents the study of any subject for a school year of at least 32 weeks, with 5 recitation periods per week, each of at least 45 minutes in length, or the equivalent thereof.
percentage of those admitted with conditions have deficiencies in solid geometry or in algebra. In some States, land-grant engineering colleges report that they are forced to accept students who have not had even plane geometry. The large numbers admitted with conditions have necessitated the setting up in many land-grant colleges of special classes in secondary school algebra and solid geometry.
Special Problems of the Undergraduate Student The replies to questionnaires show the following trends:
Orientation of entering students.—Nineteen institutions have developed orientation courses, engineering problems for freshmen, and other special instruction to aid students in the early part of their engineering curriculum in obtaining a clearer conception of engineering as a career.
Sectioning of entering students. Thirty-six land-grant colleges section students in basic subjects, such as mathematics and English. This method is helpful in basing instruction upon the student's preparation. In sectioning freshmen, use is made of the student's high-school record as well as of mathematics and English aptitude tests which are given to the entering students in a number of institutions. In 30 institutions students who are poorly prepared are assigned to noncredit courses in mathematics and in 24 colleges such students must pass a noncredit course in English before they are allowed to pursue the regular instruction in this subject.
Lengthening time for completion of curriculum.-Forty-one landgrant engineering colleges advise students who are poorly prepared, who are slow to learn, or who must earn a portion of their college expenses, to pursue a program which will take more than the regular four years to complete the requirements for a degree.
Compulsory stopping places.-Sixteen land-grant institutions favor a compulsory stopping place at the end of the second year for those who lack qualifications for the advanced instruction of the junior and senior years. However, no land-grant institution is enforcing selective admission to the third year. Engineering faculties are not in full accord on this point; furthermore, it is questioned whether a State-supported engineering college could enforce such a requirement.
Special treatment of advanced students.—Only in one institution are students in
upper classes placed on their own resources and their instruction differentiated very sharply from that in the lower classes. In this institution successful experiments have been carried on with instruction by the lecture method to large sections of from 90 to 300 junior and senior students. In nearly all cases the methods of instruction during the junior and senior years are not essentially different from those in use for the first two years.
Special recognition of scholarship.—To an increasing extent students of outstanding scholarship are given special treatment. Thus, 8 institutions report special honor courses, 28 award prizes for high grades, 19 place students of superior ability in special sections, 18 allow such students to take extra courses, 16 allow the best students unlimited absences, 35 elect such students to honor societies, and in 1 case honor students are credited with $25 per semester toward their fees and tuition.
Demand for graduates, and placement problems.—The demand for those about to graduate from engineering colleges has exceeded the supply. One land-grant engineering college reports that 210 industrial firms recruited employees among the senior engineering students of that institution during the year 1927–28. Eight institutions state that more than 100 distinct organizations actively recruited their senior students during the same year. The number of companies recruiting from different land-grant engineering colleges varies from 4 to 210. Thirty-five and seven-tenths per cent of all of those who graduated from land-grant engineering colleges in 1928 were recruited by such firms or organizations. An average of only 14 per cent of those who graduated in 1928 from all of the 49 institutions were not employed at the time of graduation. The number not placed in the better land-grant engineering colleges is negligible.
An average of 39 per cent of the graduates of land-grant engineering colleges find employment in the State in which the institution is located. This figure varies from only 2 per cent for a small college located in a distinctly agricultural community in a very thickly populated State to 85 per cent for an institution in a large industrial community.”
Special guidance of undergraduates.-Forty-six land-grant institutions give definite guidance to their seniors in the selection of the first position after graduation, and 38 engineering colleges encourage their most gifted students to pursue graduate study. In nearly all cases, however, a period of employment in practice is advised before graduate study is undertaken.
The land-grant engineering colleges realize the importance of proper guidance for undergraduates. Nine land-grant engineering colleges have developed personnel systems through which they are endeavoring to aid their students in developing traits of personality which the engineer must possess, such as good address, cooperative ability, and well-balanced initiative. Five of these and eight other engineering colleges are giving much attention to placement of engineering students.
2 Occupations and salaries of graduates are presented in Part V of this report, “Alumni and former students."
The curricula leading to degrees in engineering at land-grant institutions are representative of the general tendencies in engineering education of the United States. Of the 29,528 students enrolled in engineering for the academic year ending June, 1928, at the landgrant institutions, 19 per cent are studying civil, 29 per cent electrical, 17 per cent mechanical, 7 per cent chemical, 3 per cent mining and metallurgical, and the remainder are in other engineering curricula. Thus 65 per cent of all engineering students at land-grant institutions are enrolled in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering
Balance between general and technical instruction. The program of studies is made up of science and mathematics, technology, humanities, and military training and physical education. In Table 2 average statistics (based on replies from the questionnaires) are given in percentages of the time devoted in the major curricula to these subjects. Under humanities are included languages, social and economic sciences, history, psychology, and government. Mechanics, hydraulics, thermodynamics, drawing, designing, shop practice, and the applications of these and of the physical sciences to engineering are given under technology.
TABLE 2.-Time devoted to various subjects in the engineering curricula