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Western Career College Antioch

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I will be very interested in following Antioch's fortunes over the next 10 years. A small liberal arts college that I attended was written up in the Saturday Evending Post (remember them?) as the "drug mecca of the midwest" (a rural distribution point for the Chicago area). The publicity occurred about 1967 and proved disasterous - enrollment was down 40% in two years and Shimer College went bankrupt in 1977. I'm sure lots of high school seniors were eager to attend - and lots of parents with checkbooks quickly found grounds to prefer the U of [state].

I personally considered the situation a real loss. Shimer College offered something rather unique in American education - a degree based exclusively on reading of "great" western original works. No textbooks, no seminars on poetry by indigenous peoples who can count to three - only one criteria - it must endure ctitical examination. Recently Antioch is identified in the popular press as at the extreme of a social trend. I refer, of course, to the Newsweek articles on "sexual correctness". I wonder if Antioch may not be subject to a dynamic similar to that which destroyed my first alma mater.

During my senior year in high school, I was dying to go to Shimer, since there was no way on earth I would get to Harvard or MIT: I could have been admitted scholastically (then, not now), but the costs were simply prohibitive and there were virtually no financial aid programs in those days. And the only checkbook involved was my own, a fact I rather resented at the time. It was a very exciting idea, I thought. The only thing even remotely like it was the College at the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins then still being the major force he was.

But Shimer too was not to be, largely for financial reasons. This was 1953, long before the 60s drug things. I ended up at that prairie blight, Urbana, where I got a decent education for the three years I was there, had a couple fabu boyfriends, gave up the ambition to be a concert pianist, studied the harpsichord for the first time, and began my career in computing. God, I was miserable there. Only much later did I realize the many ways it had been a boon to me. I think about Shimer every once in a while, the idle "what might have been" thoughts.

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