The Way Through


Mr. Henry Morton Robinson, writing in the March College Humor, maintains that those students who work their way through college fail to derive from their four undergraduate years the educational and cultural benefits which their fellow-students whose financial way is paved for them, enjoy. The working undergraduate is said to be forced to disperse his energies between his studies and his efforts to "work his way through," with the result that he is physically unable to meet the curricular requirements. He then, according to Mr. Robinson, has to fall back upon the mercy of his professors, who pass him out of sympathy, thus doing injustice to him and to his fellow-students alike.

That these conclusions do not apply to Princeton, at least, can be seen by an examination of a report compiled last year by the Bureau of Student Employment on the "Scholastic Standing of Undergraduates Registered with the Student Employment Section." The summary of the report, based upon the records of the classes of 1931, 1932, and 1933, is as follows: "1. The men who are working their way through Princeton achieve scholastic standing higher than their classmates, and almost identical with their estimated ability. 2. They do not receive their full share of Freshman flunks. 3. They receive more than their full share of Phi Beta Kappa memberships and departmental honors. 4. Even those men who are giving the most time to student employment stand higher scholastically than their classmates who are not working, though in the case of Senior managers of major agencies, their standing is slightly below other Seniors in student employment." Furthermore, no evidence has been discovered that professors show them any favoritism. The fact that their scholastic standing is generally high would seem to make untenable the claim that professorial mercy is at all necessary.

The reverse, then, of Mr. Robinson's contentions in regard to scholarship seem to obtain at Princeton; namely, that if scholastic rating is a fair index of the extent to which a man is benefiting from the college curriculum, the man working his way is getting more out of his scholastic work than his more financially favored classmate. The reason for this is that the former, in most cases, necessarily acquires the ability to arrange his time effectively; he learns that he can use to advantage minutes which are wasted by his classmate. The time that he is forced to spend in "working his way through" is in general not deducted from what should be devoted to sleep and exercise, and he does not become the physical wreck that Mr. Robinson describes. On the contrary, he has learned one of the greatest lessons of education--the ability to cut down his wasted minutes. --The Daily Princetonian.