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Letters from a Father to His Son Entering College   By: (1853-1937)

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CHARLES FRANKLIN THWING President of Western Reserve University


Copyright, 1912 By THE PLATT & PECK CO.


Parts of the letters that make up this little book were read to my own college boys at the opening of a college year. They represent somewhat, but of course only a bit, of what I believe many a father would like to say to his own son, as I to mine, when he is entering the most important year of his college life the Freshman. Those who first heard them, even though obliged to hear, seemed to suffer them gladly. They are, therefore, brought together, and sent out to fathers and to sons, and with a peculiar feeling of sympathy for both the parent and the boy at one of the crises of the life of each.

C. F. T.

Western Reserve University, Cleveland.


PAGE I Thought 9 II The Essential Gentleman 22 III Health as an Asset 25 IV Appreciation 29 V Scholarship 31 VI The Intellectual Life 40 VII The Use of Time 43 VIII Culture 53 IX College Morals 61 X Weakness of Character 65 XI The Genesis of Success 68 XII Religion 91


My Dear Boy: I am glad you want to go to college. Possibly I might send you even if you did not want to go, yet I doubt it. One may send a boy through college and the boy is sent through. None of the college is sent through him. But if you go, I am sure a good deal of the college will somehow get lodged in you.

You will find a thousand and one things in college which are worth while. I wish you could have each of them, but you can not. You have to use the elective system, even in the Freshman year. The trouble is not that so few boys do not seem to know how to distinguish the good from the bad, but that so many boys do not know the better from the good and the best from the better. I have known thousands of college boys, and they do not seem to distinguish, or, if they do, they do not seem to be able to apply the gospel of difference.

You won't think me imposing on you will you? if before entering college I tell you of some things which seem to me to be most worthy of your having and being on the day you get your A. B.

The first thing I wish to say to you is that I want you to come out of the college a thinker. But how to make yourself a thinker is both hard to do and hard to tell. Yet, the one great way of making yourself a thinker is to think. Thinking is a practical art. It cannot be taught. It is learned by doing. Yet there are some subjects in the course which seem to me to be better fitted than others to teach you this art. I've been trying to find out what are some of the marks or characteristics of these subjects. They are, I believe, subjects which require concentration of thought; subjects which have clearness in their elements, yet which are comprehensive, which are complex, which are consecutive in their arrangements of parts, each part being closely, rigorously related to every other, which represent continuity, of which the different elements or parts may be prolonged unto far reaching consequences. Concentration in the thinker, clearness, comprehensiveness, complexedness, consecutiveness, continuity there are the six big C's, which are marks of the subjects which tend to create the thinker.

To attempt to apply each of these marks to many different subjects of the curriculum represents a long and unduly stupefying labor. Apply them for yourself... Continue reading book >>

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