Although he claimed that colleges and universities were accepting his students within 10 years after he founded the school, W.N. Ferris was continuously trying to get his credits accepted as college preparatory credits. He was too busy with his new building and his school to do much about it in 1894, but after he issued his first catalog in 1894, he began a campaign to induce institutions of higher education to consider his students as acceptable for entrance in their schools and that Institute credits should be accepted on face value.
In the beginning, Ferris wrote personal letters to the presidents of the universities recommending students for admission in the universities asking that Ferris courses of study be accepted as substitutes for the universities' studies.
The University of Michigan was the most reluctant to accept Ferris-educated students, but eventually, it too accepted Ferris credits. In the second decade of the Ferris Industrial School's existence, Ferris offered a college preparatory course based entirely on University of Michigan requirements.
W.N. Ferris also wrote to the private Michigan colleges, sending them his catalogs and asking that his students be accepted on face value. As one college would agree, he would tell the next college he wrote to that such and such a college or university was accepting his students.
When it came time for him to get his son Carleton enrolled, Ferris wrote a long letter to the University of Michigan explaining all of Carleton's good points, citing faculty members at Ferris who had attended the university.
Carleton didn't attend the University of Michigan. Instead he enrolled at Purdue University in Indiana. W.N. was not slow in writing to Cornell University at Ithaca, N.Y., (Ferris' old neighborhood) asking that Ferris students be accepted there claiming that Purdue University was accepting his students.
W.N. continued to bombard the University of Michigan with requests that the university accept his students, pointing out that Cornell University and Purdue University were accepting his students.
Before the turn of the century W.N. Ferris was also bombarding the superintendent of public instruction's office for authority to give life certificates (the highest teaching degree) to his graduates. Ferris did not hesitate to point out schools which he considered offered less caliber of teaching than his did were allowed to offer life certificates.