Of course other college and universities offer opportunities for students to work their way through. In any college, there is a proportion of students who tend furnace, do janitor work, wait on table, clerk in the office, whatever they can do to earn their way through. But the majority are able to meet their college expenses without work. The remarkable thing about Blackburn college is that the children of well-to-do parents are discouraged from coming there; young people who have plenty of ambition but little money, are welcome.
If you could have stepped with me into the college kitchen you would have found two good-looking girls rolling paste for eighteen apple pies for dinner. I tasted the pies and rolls baked by the students that morning. They were delicious. In the afternoon I had a chance to see that these girls were just as clever in solving a problem in geometry as in making apple pies.
The girls work in groups, which rotate regularly. By the end of the year each girl has served her turn at sweeping, dish washing, bed making, laundry work, preparing vegetables, cooking and waiting on table.
The girls handle the food, plan and prepare the meals for the one hundred students under the direction of the instructor in domestic science. They run the power washing machine, and do all the laundry work. In dressmaking classes they learn to design, cut and fit their own clothes. The young women work out, in kitchen and diningroom; the lessons they have learned in the domestic science classes. In the same way the young men are taught agriculture. Then they apply what they have learned on the college farm under the direction of an experienced farmer, who acts as farm superintendent. Every student is expected to spend two and a half hours at some practical work each day.
Blackburn has a small pure-bred Holstein herd and the young men do all the dairy work studying best dairy methods.
Besides practical training in household and farm management, the college carries its students as far as the state university does in its first two years.
Blackburn was founded in 1837 by the Rev. Gideon Blackburn, a Presbyterian minister, but the old college has been born again through the gospel of self-help.