June 2006

I recently came across this inspiring speech by Alice Freeman Palmer entitled, “Why Go to College?” Though first delivered in the late 1800’s, many of her reasons for the education of women are relevant today. Here are a few delicious quotes that should send you off to refill your coffee cup before you cruise the above link to be inspired by her speech in its entirety. Enjoy!

I found it really interesting that her focus on educating women had to do with better equipping them for serving society. While education certainly personally betters the individual who is educated, we at got me a college girl truly believe that the educated woman has improved herself so that she can better serve her fellow man.

Our American girls themselves are becoming aware that they need the stimulus, the discipline, the knowledge, the interests of the college, in addition to the school, if they are to prepare themselves for the most serviceable of lives.

I will not reply that college training is a life insurance for a girl, a pledge that she possesses the disciplined ability to earn a living for herself and others in case of need, for I prefer to insist on the importance of giving every girl, no matter what her present circumstances, a special training in some one thing by which she can render society service, not amateur but of an expert sort, and service too for which it will be willing to pay a price.

If you read the following and don’t have a ping of wishing for the days on end of intellectual stimuli, then I’m just sorry!

In the college time new powers are sprouting, and intelligence, merriment, truthfulness and generosity are more natural than the opposite qualities often become in later years. An exhilarating atmosphere pervades the place. We who are in it all the time feel that we live at the fountain of perpetual youth, and those who take but a four years’ bath in it become more cheerful, strong, and full of promise than they are ever likely to find themselves again; for a college is a kind of compendium of the things most men long for.

One of my biggest complaints of the anti-college sentiment, is the belief that anyone can educate themselves on any subject by themselves. Somehow pseudo-intellectual discussions of a matter is educating those involved, not in a similar way that the college classroom educates, but in a superior way. When I was in college I went to a gathering of self-proclaimed intellectuals. They talked about this and that with great superiority and gusto. It was clear after an hour in their company, that many of them new nothing about what they were talking about, that they just liked to hear themselves talking about a broad range of intellectual subjects when their time would have been better served actually studying the matter from someone who knew what they were talking about. In the same way, I believe, the ideal that insists that a person can be well educated by a mere accumulation of facts that can be regurgitated at will is missing something vital to education: the inspiraton and excitement that comes from studying with an expert in the field of study.

. . . it is wholly wrong in assuming that this precious influence comes from frequent meetings or talks on miscellaneous subjects.

The greatest thing any friend or teacher, either in school or college, can do for a student is to furnish him with a personal ideal . . . an ideal of character, of conduct, of the scholar, the leader . . . for many years I have known that my study with them . . . enlarged my notions of life, uplifted my standards of culture, and so inspired me with new possibilites of usefulness and happiness. Not the facts and theories that I learned so much as the men who taught me, gave this inspiration.

Please, do, read the entire speech and let us know what you think!


With a grateful look towards a friend’s blog, I have poached this article by Holly Stratton as an excellent example of writing from a college girl.

Holly has a refreshing take on modesty and some noteworthy insights on the danger of digging deeper into our respective preferential trenches. My favorite is

“…Most of us will find ourselves in venues where the defining of lines and the drawing of specific applications are vital components of instruction. During this process, we can unwittingly carve a path to the goal that becomes deeply entrenched in our own opinions and biases. The deeper we dig, the easier it is to lose sight of the fact that our personalities, environments, and upbringings—and not the Word of God alone—have contributed to our specific courses of choice. This can prompt us to make not only unbiblical judgments against those who run paths that veer to our left or right but also dogmatic, authoritative statements about subjective matters.”

The ensuing discussion is not overly edifying, but the original article, I thought, was exceptional.