There are two very general prejudices against the class of schools known as business colleges. One is that their chief aim - next to lining the pockets of their proprietors - is to turn out candidates for petty clerkships, when the country is already overrun with young men whose main ambition is to stand at a desk and "keep books." The other is that the practical outcome of these institutions is a swarm of conceited flourishers with the pen, who, because they have copied a set or two of model account books and learned to imitate more or less cleverly certain illegibly artistic writing copies, imagine themselves competent for any business post, and worthy of a much higher salary than any merely practical accountant who has never been to a business college or attempted the art of fancy penmanship as exhibited in spread eagles and impossible swans.
As a rule popular prejudices are not wholly unfounded in reason; and we should not feel disposed to make an exception in this case. When the demand arose for a more practical schooling than the old fashioned schools afforded, no end of writing masters, utterly ignorant of actual business life and methods, hastened to set up ill managed writing schools which they dubbed "business colleges," and by dint of advertising succeeded in calling in a multitude of aspirants for clerkships. In view of the speedy discomfiture of the deluded graduates of such schools when brought face to face with actual business affairs, and the disgust of their employers who had engaged them on the strength of their alleged business training, one is not so much surprised that prejudice against business colleges still prevails in many quarters, as that the relatively few genuine institutions should have been able to gain any creditable footing at all.FIRST DEPARTMENT FOURTH OR FINISHING DEPARTMENT SECOND DEPARTMENT THE BUDGET ROOM THIRD DEPARTMENT THE ASSEMBLY ROOM
BUSINESS COLLEGES AND THEIR SYSTEMS--[See page 388.]
The single fact that they have overcome the opprobrium cast upon their name by quacks, so far as to maintain themselves in useful prosperity, winning a permanent and honorable place among the progressive educational institutions of the day, is proof enough that they have a mission to fulfill and are fulfilling it. This, however, is not simply, as many suppose, in training young men and young women to be skilled accountants - a calling of no mean scope and importance in itself - but more particularly in furnishing young people, destined for all sorts of callings, with that practical knowledge of business affairs which every man or woman of means has constant need of in every-day life. Thus the true business college performs a twofold function. As a technical school it trains its students for a specific occupation, that of the accountant; at the same time it supplements the education not only of the intending merchant, but equally of the mechanic, the man of leisure, the manufacturer, the farmer, the professional man - in short, of any one who expects to mix with or play any considerable part in the affairs of men. The mechanic who aspires to be the master of a successful shop of his own, or foreman or manager in the factory of another, will have constant need of the business habits and the knowledge of business methods and operations which a properly conducted business school will give him. The same is true of the manufacturer, whose complicated, and it may be extensive, business relations with the producers and dealers who supply him with raw material, with the workmen who convert such material into finished wares, with the merchants or agents who market the products of his factory, all require his oversight and direction. Indeed, whoever aspires to something better than a hand-to-mouth struggle with poverty, whether as mechanic, farmer, professional man, or what not, must of necessity be to some degree a business man; and in every position in life business training and a practical knowledge of financial affairs are potent factors in securing success.
How different, for example, would have been the history of our great inventors had they all possessed that knowledge of business affairs which would have enabled them to put their inventions in a business like way before the world, or before the capitalists whose assistance they wished to invoke. The history of invention is full of illustrations of men who have starved with valuable patents standing in their names - patents which have proved the basis of large fortunes to those who were competent to develop the wealth that was in them. How often, too, do we see capable and ingenious and skillful mechanics confined through life to a small shop, or to a subordinate position in a large shop, solely through their inability to manage the affairs of a larger business. On the other hand, it is no uncommon thing to see what might be a profitable business - which has been fairly thrust upon a lucky inventor or manufacturer by the urgency of popular needs - fail disastrously through ignorance of business methods and inability to conduct properly the larger affairs which fell to the owner's hand.
Of course a business training is not the only condition of success in life. Many have it and fail; others begin without it and succeed, gaining a working knowledge of business affairs through the exigencies of their own increasing business needs. Nevertheless, in whatever line in life a man's course may fall, a practical business training will be no hinderance to him, while the lack of it may be a serious hinderance. The school of experience is by no means to be despised. To many it is the only school available. But unhappily its teachings are apt to come too late, and often they are fatally expensive. Whoever can attain the needed knowledge in a quicker and cheaper way will obviously do well so to obtain it; and the supplying of such practical knowledge, and the training which may largely take the place of experience in actual business, is the proper function of the true business college.
Our purpose in this writing, however, was not so much to enlarge upon the utility of business colleges, properly so called, as to describe the practical working of a representative institution, choosing for the purpose Packard's Business College in this city.