Scraps from an old university catalog

I work at a medium-sized state university in the U.S. I also went to school here ten years ago.

A friend of mine at work recently lent me a copy he found of our university’s academic catalog from 1903. That’s 110 years ago! It’s fun to take a peak at what college life looked like back then.

Here are some some specific instructions for what to bring the dorms:

Students are required to provide themselves with the following articles:
One pillow, four pillow slips, four sheets for three-quarter bed, two bed spreads, one pair of blankets, one comforter, four towels, two math towels, six table napkins, one knife, fork, and teaspoon. Students are advised, but not required to provide rugs for their rooms.

How much did food cost in the cafeteria?

The dining hall is open to both young men and young women students, and meals are serverd at 15 cents each to regular boarders. A transient rate of twenty cents is also provided.

In today’s dollars, that would be close to $4 for lunch.

Touting the library:

The library of the University, including six departmental libraries, now contains over 3900 bound volumes and a large number of pamphlets.

Love those pamphlets; and 3900 volumes? I checked and they now have about 2 million.

How much did it cost?

No student who shall have been a resident of the state for one year next preceding his admission shall be required to pay any fees for his tuition in the University, except in a professional department or for extra studies. The fees for non-residents are fixed by the Regents are: For the University, $7.50 for each semester, or $15,00 for the scholastic year. The costs of books, stationary and other materials required to be furnished by the student, varies from $5.00 to $15.00 a year, according to the course of study taken.

My goodness. Free for in-state students, and only $15 a year otherwise. Oh, plus maybe $10 for books. I looked up the inflation tables. If adjusted for the value of the dollar, college should cost about $400 a year now, plus another $230 for books. In actuality, it’s about $6000 at this institution, plus $800 for books. The textbooks are at double the rate of inflation, but tuition is at 15 times. Yikes.

Finally, I looked up my degree: Bachelor of Music. What did a person study back then?

I won’t copy the table here, but it’s four semesters of French, four semesters of German, eight semesters of piano and music theory, and six semesters of English lit. That’s a heck a lot of foreign language, and a lot of non-music reading and writing. It was more of a music-flavored liberal arts degree. Today, only graduate students are required to have just one other language under their belt at all. I took classes on arranging, conducting, analysis, and history that were not available back then. Also, like many conservatories still are today, private music lessons were to be taken on the side and were not formal for-credit “classes” like they are at most institutions today.