To the Young Man about to enter College: --
You are heavily in debt, and that debt must be paid by you, and can be paid by no one else. You are in debt to your parents, who have brought you to this point and put you under an immeasurable obligation; to your school and teachers that have given you heart work that money cannot repay; to your country and all that covers and implies in the largest sense; to your future, unknown but likely to continue here for almost fifty years, and containing unthought of possibilities, to yourself and others, of happiness or sorrow, of strength or weakness, of success or failure. Last of all -- comprehending all -- you owe a debt to yourself which you must work out in after years as a veteran with a high sense of professional honor, devoting all your powers to the service of those more or less dependent upon you, who can never fully enforce payment of your obligations toward them, but must depend upon its performance as you yourself give it, thus seeking to repay those who molded your own character.
Debts to parents, teachers, country, future and self.
With these things in view, let me say some things to you as you look forward to your college course. These are the words of a college graduate, who believes in such a course, if it be a good one, undertaken and pursued in a right spirit: of a father who has sent his own children to college; of a professional man who has had many opportunities to study the value of a college education in the ordinary business and profession of to-day, and unusual chances to know undergraduate life as it is in most of our principal institutions of higher learning, and who has studied it therein from the standpoint of the student himself, in his college home, with all its drags downward and its lifts upward.
Words of truth and soberness.
First: Determine whether or not you ought to go to college. If