Date: April 21, 1931
Location: Northampton, MA
It would be easier to determine who should go to college if the purpose of a college education first were decided. If it be conceded that the purpose is merely to train sufficient leaders in thought for the professions and statecraft then the number should be limited and much emphasis put on proper selection. In that case we should be entirely right in thinking many students are not qualified for such work and so should not seek a college degree.
Another conception of education makes it a general preparation for life, a method by which individual existence is broadened and sweetened. This theory sees no reason for confining the colleges to the professions or to those of exceptional capacity. Certainly the world now rewards the trades to an even higher degree than it does some professions. If we would stop thinking that a bachelor of arts must be a white-collar man and let him be any kind of man he is adapted to be, the danger of spoiling a good craftsman to make a poor professional man would vanish. The world is too far committed to democracy easily to conclude that we can make an aristocracy of learning. Every life needs more light.
Citation: Calvin Coolidge Says: Dispatches Written by Former-President Coolidge and Syndicated to Newspapers in 1930-1931 (Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation)
The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Robert Manchester who prepared this document for digital publication.