It was in the administration of President Poteat that definite
entrance requirements began to be enforced at the College. Before the
beginning of the century the colleges and universities of the South
guarded the quality of their degrees by the courses prescribed in the
curriculum rather than by statements of high school work. Although
before that time the higher educational institutions had been stating
with more and more definiteness the amount of preparation required
in various subjects, general admission was easy, and once admitted a
student might join any class the work of which after conference with
the instructor he was bold enough to undertake; if he succeeded with
the work he got credit for it on the requirements for his degree and no
further check was made of his preparatory work on that subject.1
The University of North Carolina took the lead in North Carolina in
prescribing that certificates of work done in high school should be on
blank forms such as were approved or furnished by the University.
This was done as early as 1897-98. But neither for the University nor
any other North Carolina institution do the catalogues of these years
show clearly just how many conditions a student might have and yet
be admitted.
One difficulty was that there was no uniformity of terms to indicate
the credit for a year of high school work. In some catalogues one
reads of "courses," in another of "periods," in another some other
term. In 1899, however, the College Entrance Examination Board of
the Middle States and Maryland adopted the term "unit" as the most
fit expression for a year of high school work in one subject. This soon
came into general use and has so continued. It was several years later
before it was adopted
Catalogues of the University of North Carolina for the years 1896-97 and the
years following; Bruce, History of the University of Virginia, IV, 282-83; V, 103ff.,
the latter being a very full and clear statement.
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