Spring semester starts today and I’m officially back at it. I’m not feeling quite as optimistic about my prospects as this Chronicle article from 1923 would suggest but neither have I “busted out” after the first term.
I did, predictably, come back to wander around campus over break. Because I don’t know what else to do. I saw the usual maintenance and construction workers, grad students, and families riding bikes but it did indeed feel tranquil. Here’s an image of a similar day over Christmas break in 1976. Not much is different except the size of the trees:
I did see an unexpected sight in front of Lovett Hall. It was cold and raining hard at this point and yet several groups gathered there for the campus tour. I would admit any of these prospective students based purely on their tenacity:
I also spent some time over break sorting through photos I took during the centennial celebration in 2012. Much to my delight Jim Kinsey popped up again, almost 60 years after the last time we saw him here. What I remember about this moment is how happy he was that as a retiree he didn’t have to sit in the sun in academic robes during this event. It was hot!
I didn’t realize how many students flunked out each year back then. 80 is a rather high number. Generally people who flunk out did not apply themselves or did not have the requisite skills to be admitted in the first place. If 80 people flunk out that means that a lot of hard working, intelligent but unlucky people were included in the mix. Sounds like Air Force flight school or Navy Seal training. No wonder attending Rice was so stressful for so many.
Oh man, it was brutal. There are many, many folders full of lists of students on probation as well as those who failed out. This went on for many years. Coincidentally,Rice became much more forgiving after 1.) we started charging tuition, and 2.) the Viet Nam war heated up.
“Brutal” doesn’t begin to describe it. In the days before tuition undergrads were a nuisance to the faculty, so they got rid of as many as possible.
Info from my parents who attended in the 1940s: There were no standardized SAT-type tests back then. As now, high school transcripts were not necessarily comparable, thus the additional requirements of recommendation letters and interviews. The old system was definitely a very stressful method of seeing which students could do the work. Those who couldn’t were “weeded out.”