Stained glass window
Student Adjustments
1918 Student Body
Photo of the 1917-1918 Furman Student Body from the 1918 Bonhomie

The Great War impacted college students in many ways, not only in those that enlisted. Their schools were generally pressured or at times forced to enact significant changes to some of their basic policies. To explore this avenue, I analyzed both the Furman and Greenville Woman’s College (GWC) Catalogs to ascertain how student expenses, enrollment, and degree attainment were affected by the war period. With no data on the Furman Fitting School’s yearly graduates, I only examined its student expenses and enrollment figures. My research details the extent to which these schools were influenced in certain ways by the effects of WWI (1).

Furman Fitting School Expenses
Tuition
Board
1913-14
$50
$125
1914-15
$60
$152
1915-16
$60
$152

Furman Student Expenses
Tuition
Board
Combined L.M.S.A.* Fee (Non-Resident and Resident)
Diploma
Matriculation
1914-15
$100
$146.50
$5 or $2
$5
$10
1915-16
$100
$146.50
$5 or $2
$5
$10
1916-17
$100
$154
$5 or $2
$5
$10
1917-18
$100
$154
$5 or $2
$5
$10
1918-19
$100
$140
$3 or $2
$5
$15
1919-20
$100
$175
$20 L.M.A.
$7.50
$15
1920-21
$100
$174
$25 L.M.A.
$7.50
$30
1921-221
$40
$116
$25 L.M.A.
$7.50
$30

*Library, Medical, Social, and Athletic


GWC Student Expenses
Tuition
Board
Music
Diploma
Infirmary
1914-15
$60
$85
$3
$5
$5
1915-16
$60
$85
$3
$5
$5
1916-17
$70
$95
$3
$5
$5
1917-18
$80
$110
$4
$7
$7
1918-19
$80
$110
$4
$7
$7
1919-20
$100
$120
$4
$10
$10
1920-21
$100
$108.75
Ceased
$10
$10
1921-221
$100
$108.75
Ceased
$10
$10

I first explored the standing of student expenses, a useful indicator for assessing the financial climate of a given school. It is remarkable that Furman tuition was constant until it dropped sharply for the 1921-1922 session. The board expense was more variable, but again the most substantial difference in year-to-year measure was from 1920-1921 to 1921-1922. Even though the two major sources of student payment did not increase significantly, other costs, such as matriculation, increased by fifty percent before doubling a couple years later. Also, the “other fees”—at various times comprising the library, medical, society, and athletic fee—increased dramatically after the 1918-1919 session. When considering that the Furman Fitting School was already in considerable debt prior to the arrival of the war, the conflict’s effects only exacerbated its precarious state. This culminated into the institution’s closure following the 1915-1916 session. Therefore, its analysis will seem to be less engrossing and consequential than of the other schools. The only change for the Furman Fitting School was for the 1914-1915 session when both tuition and board increased moderately. The changes experienced by the GWC comport best to my presumptions of the war’s effects. Tuition increased throughout the period and board increased until the 1920-1921 session. Less costly expenses like music, diploma, and infirmary only increased. Overall, college student expenses typically rose or stayed about the same and only occasionally decreased. For both Furman and GWC, the academic year 1919-1920 witnessed the highest aggregate expense increase, and this seemed to be a reaction to the uncertain postwar transition (2).

Year
Furman Fitting School Enrollment
Furman Enrollment
GWC Enrollment
1913
106
NA
NA
1914
85
186
418
1915
82
202
484
1916
Discontinued
236
482
1917
Discontinued
213
534
1918
Discontinued
203
545
1919
Discontinued
299
643
1920
Discontinued
381
711
1921
Discontinued
416
599

Next, I examined student enrollment figures, a testament of the students’ ability to attend a school as well as the school’s approach toward realizing a favorable number of its matriculated students. Enrollment for both Furman and GWC had increased considerably from 1914 to 1921. As expected, Furman enrollment dropped off in 1917 and 1918—the years America were engaged in WWI—, but the decrease was only moderate. Even more surprisingly, the number of students more than doubled from 1918 to 1921. In the GWC, enrollment steadily increased until 1921, when the student body stabilized around 600 for the near future. It was clear that wartime conditions did not negatively affect enrollment. As evidenced in student rosters for both schools, the war’s aftermath did not deter student body growth. Studying enrollment figures in the Furman Fitting School was less interesting, because it never changed during the last three years of its existence. Aside from the invariable roster records of the Furman Fitting School, the sharp growth of the student body complemented the corresponding architectural expansion of the campuses, especially in Furman (3).

Year
Furman Enrollment
Honorary
GWC Enrollment
1914
30
1
48
1915
30
3
37
1916
23
2
50
1917
40
2
47
1918
27
1
42
1919
NA
NA
57
1920
34
4
19
1921
42
1
31

Finally, I studied the number of annual graduates, a marker for how well students were able to remain in school and attain degrees. In the Furman dataset, a class’s graduate figure was the combined course and honorary degrees conferred. Unfortunately, no data was available for the Furman Class of 1919 in the Catalogs. Fluctuations in the graduates from 1914 to 1921 were interesting in that they did seem to be as susceptible to the war’s effects as the other two measures of the school’s condition. Despite a couple decreases in graduates, the overall progression seemed to be a moderately upward trend. From the incomplete data, the greatest changes came in 1917 as an increase and in 1918 as a decrease. The large reduction for 1918 was congruent with the straightforward idea that a decline in enrollment, mainly because of students participating in the war, should generate fewer graduates. The findings of the GWC graduation numbers revealed that the war may actually have at least indirectly boosted graduation growth, because the largest increase came in 1919. However, the postwar environment seemed to discourage students from graduating as noted in the drastic reduction of about fifty percent from the combined 1918 and 1919 graduates to the combined 1920 and 1921 graduates. The takeaway was that judging from the different pieces of evidence that were provided, Furman seemed to be affected more by the war and less by the postwar period, while the experiences of the GWC were the opposite (4).

Works Cited

1 Furman University Catalogue, 1913-1922, Furman University Archives, Greenville, SC. Greenville Woman’s College Catalog, 1914-1922, Furman University Archives, Greenville, SC.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.