Century of Opportunity Logo with presidents images
An Academic Potpourri

Ferris Institute was termed an opportunity school in part because W.N. Ferris took advantage of every opportunity to provide a curriculum to prepare people for nearly every wage-earning job.

In the 1903-04 catalog under a heading

"Subjects Offered," the catalog carried this statement:

W.N. Ferris took advantage of every opportunity to provide a curriculum to prepare people for nearly every wage-earning job.

"One of the most remarkable things about this school is the great variety of subjects offered. The very nature of the institution would lead one to look for broad and varied courses. A school that in the line of mathematics, for instance, offers everything from common fractions to trigonometry; a school where may sit side by side the beginner, puzzling over the difficulties of elementary English grammar, and the advanced student, deep in the intricacies of Latin and Greek, would have to present a course as notable for its diversity as the school is remarkable for its success. Notwithstanding this diversity, the courses may be grouped under the following 16 well-defined heads: College Preparatory, Professional Preparatory, Normal, Kindergarten, Elocution, Physical Culture, Music, Drawing, Common English, Pharmacy, Commercial, Penmanship, Shorthand, Civil Service, Telegraphy, and Typewriting."

"A school where may sit side by side the beginner, puzzling over the difficulties of elementary English grammar, and the advanced student deep in the intricacies of Latin and Greek."

Some of these programs were important to the Pestalozzian educators; some were strictly opportunistic for the times. Music and art (drawing) were programs that did not find their way into the liberal arts college and university curriculums until a later time.

Another revelation of the catalog appears under the title "Success."

"Wherein lies the success of the Ferris Institute? Back of its wonderful success is no single cause. First the school from the beginning has stood for something. It has stood for thorough work as against superficial cramming; it has stood for downright honesty as against questionable modern business methods. It has enabled its students to go out in the world and accomplish something . . .

"The school has stood for thorough work as against superficial cramming."

"The factor of factors, however, the one that stands above all others, is the President, W.N. Ferris, a man whose personality attracts and holds, whose untiring energy wrings success from defeat and whose boundless enthusiasm permeates the very walls of the institution that stands as a monument of his labors. This man, now in some respects a national figure, is blessed above many teachers in that he has the power to win the esteem, the confidence, the love of young people. No small part of his success, however, has been due to his wife, who has given to her husband magnificient encouragement and help. Long may the President and his noble wife Helen, through the Ferris Institute, continue to make the world better."

There is no indication who wrote this paragraph -- probably W.N. himself.

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