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I am a freshman at Simpson College, and am working my way through. When I graduated from high school last spring, I did not think that I could be in college this fall. My mother could not afford to send me. I had no means of my own. I would be too young for two years to be entitled to a teacher’s certificate; and in the little town where I live, it is very hard for girls to find for themselves any other employment. I was sorely dissatisfied with the thought of being out of school so long; for though I dearly love to study, I knew I could not make much progress without good books and teachers, which in private study I would not have. I was fully resigned to the necessity of postponing my college course for several years. How foolish I was I soon found out.

One of my high school professors had been asking me repeatedly why I didn’t go to college. At last, in desperation, I told him I didn’t want to be asked that question any more, because I couldn’t afford to go. He calmly responded, “I don’t see how you can afford not to go to college. These are 258 the most vigorous years of your life, and one of them spent away from your studies will make school work much harder and much less interesting to you. A year of idleness will dull your appreciation of, and keenness in, all that school can give you. If you wait until you have saved money enough to go, it is very probable that you will become discouraged, and your ideal will retreat from you. Go now! Work your way through! It will be easy!”

I wish someone would say words like those to every high school graduate. To me they were a revelation. Work my way through? Why, nobody but boys ever did that; how could I? But finally I allowed myself to be persuaded that, since others had done it, I could at least try. One thing was greatly in my favor: as honor graduate, I had been awarded free tuition at Simpson College, for one year. Immediately I set out to provide for other expenses. I made tatting by the yards, and sold it to whomsoever I could. I gave music lessons, but, since there were so many other music teachers in town, I could not make much in that way. I was very well satisfied that I was able to make enough to pay for my carfare to the college town, my term fees, and my books. A friend found a place where I can work for my board and room, so that my expenses now are practically nothing. I am in a private home, and help with the housework. My work and my classes are so arranged that I often have several hours in which I can do extra 259 work, which is nearly always available. Thus far, I have not had to borrow. I should not advise students to borrow unless it is quite necessary. I do not like the idea of incurring upon myself the responsibility of a debt. But most colleges have a loan fund, and I should surely prefer to avail myself of that rather than to stop my school work. So here I am, making my own way, doing what I thought was impossible; and I am happy.

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“But does not the work take so much time and strength that none is left for studies and for social functions?” someone will ask. Here, indeed, a little optimism is necessary; but, once get the work properly systematized, and there is no waste of time. The studies will be sure to find themselves a place, as do most of the social functions. And who cares for being a little tired? I am young and strong; I can laugh fatigue away.

I am sure that I shall appreciate my college course much more, if I get it for myself, than I should if I were dependent upon others for it. If it were given to me, and if I passively received the gift, I might fail to understand its value. Whereas, if I myself must put forth the effort for it, I shall be brought to realize how much it is worth.

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Then, too, what a splendid tonic for self-respect it is to be doing things for one’s self! It makes one feel strong and independent, an individual capable of serving one’s self and others, and not a poor weak thing for everybody to stumble over or stoop 260 to assist. I fondly cherish the idea that the independence thus gained will help me to carry on whatever profession I may choose as my life work with greater facility than I could otherwise. The ideal of any true profession is to help humanity; if my education, whether gained within the walls of the college or in the great school of life, but fits me to be helpful to my fellow creatures, it will have fulfilled its purpose.

Does anyone still ask why I want to work my way through college? In return I ask, “Why should I not?” There is no reason why any girl should not have a college education if she sincerely desires it. Money counts for little; it equips none with armor wherewith to face the battles of life. In getting an education, as in all things else, health and pluck are the only requisites. Individual effort must be exerted. The girl who succeeds is the girl who undertakes all kinds of work, in school or elsewhere, happily and heartily.

Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.



When I first conceived the idea of going to college I thought such an undertaking was entirely out of the question, for I was a boy without means. But I had a good supply of enthusiasm and so determined to try it. I decided that I would have a better chance at a small college, so I chose Hanover. Upon my arrival there in the fall of 1910, I began a series of very interesting, often embarrassing, but always amusing experiences. I had just enough money to pay my board for one week, but I used my brains more that week than I ever had before in my life. I soon found a grocer who needed help on Saturdays and he said he would give me a position that would pay $1.25 per week.