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Opportunity Beckons

W.N. Ferris, always an opportunist, was not averse to using "gimmicks" which would increase his enrollment. In the 1903-04 catalog he proposed this idea:

Many ambitious high school graduates who are anxious to pursue a college or university course are, for the time being, barred on account of lack of funds. You are asking: 'What can I do to earn money so that I may gratify my ambition?' The Ferris Institute has already answered this question to the satisfaction of thousands. Here is the answer: Master shorthand, typewriting and the fundamentals of bookkeeping. With this equipment you are absolutely sure of a position, at a good salary, for 12 months of the year. This is the shortest road to the realization of your ambition. Furthermore, this training is guaranteed against financial failure, whatever your vocation. It is an asset that makes the would-be dentist, doctor, lawyer, preacher, teacher and captain of industry strong and confident. This preparation has enabled many young people to earn a salary and attend college, university or professional school at the same time."

Although it would be hard to come up with thousands of names of students who earned their way through a professional degree by serving as secretaries or bookkeepers, some students did just that.

The copper mines of the Upper Peninsula brought droves of non-English speaking persons to Michigan. W.N. Ferris had something for them, too. This was the enticement given to foreigners in his 1903-04 catalog:

"During the past 10 years, the Ferris Institute has enrolled a large number of young men who came to America from some foreign country. Finlanders, Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Hollanders, Germans, Armenians and Mexicans were among the number. Frequently these young men are fairly well educated in their native tongue. What they wanted was a practical knowledge of the English language. The Ferris Institute welcomes such young people. Special arrangements have been made to meet the demands of these students. The principal aim is to enable these young men and women to read, write and speak the English language correctly. In from three to six months, the majority are able to speak, read and write English with ease and fluency."

There were also some students who came to Ferris directly from foreign countries -- especially Latin American countries, and instructor Philinda House's specific assignment was to teach English to foreign-language speaking Ferris students.

Remote as it was, the school offered something which attracted these students. Although there is no indication that there was a great quantity of them at any one time, there are many letters on record written about foreign students.

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