Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Mr. C.Y. Sun, March 19, 1926


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Mr. C.Y. Sun, March 19, 1926


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Mr. C.Y. Sun, March 19, 1926


Typed letter sent from Dr. Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun about Mary's education. States Mary is happier at the new school after some time. Explains protests from Mary's Abbott friends prevented her from adjusting quicker. Questions whether the transfer was necessary. Believes Mary could have finished the year, entered prep courses, and attending college a year later if not for the cost. Plans to monitor the situation. Discusses college options for Mary. Discussed the issue with Chinese Minister, Dr. Alfred Sze. Discusses college options for Tom Sun.


March 19, 1926
Mr. C.Y.Sun
44 Cambridge Bond
Tientsin, China

My dear Mr. Sun:

Let me acknowledge the receipt of your letter of February 3, confirming the cable message received several weeks ago. As I have already written you, the receipt of that message prompted me to readjust Mary’s schedule completely at a place and in a small school about fifteen miles from here, where she would secure for the balance of the year intensive and individual work in preparation for college entrance examinations. Apparently Mary is much happier there now than she was when the change was first made, for it was sudden and unexpected and aroused a storm of protest from her Abbot Academy friends; indeed their misguided but well meant sympathy and enthusiasm kept Mary pretty badly stirred up for some time and have made it increasingly difficult for her to settle down in the new environment. Frankly, I am still very gravely in doubt as to whether we did the wisest thing in changing Mary’s school and course so suddenly and at this particular time of year. My own inclination would have been to allow her to finish out the current school year at Abbot Academy, secure her diploma for the general course, a goal for which she had been aiming, and then settle down to the intensive college preparatory work, if that was to be the new aim. On the other hand, that meant naturally the consuming of some additional months in work which was not leading to the goal finally chosen and which, therefore, might seem to you, in large measure, thrown away. Again the change in midyear also involved extra expense, since pupils in boarding schools are regularly held for the full year’s charge, unless their places can be filled by new-comers. At this late season the chance of securing new pupils to finish out the school year are very slight.

Having all these things in mind to puzzle me, I finally decided that the only thing I could do after receiving your definite message, which I knew was sent after you had read my earlier letter in which I had tried to outline the complications involved, was to make the change at once and this was done. I must admit, however, that my pause of mind has not increased as a result, for Mary and many of her friends, at least, feel that I have acted both unwisely and harshly, something which at best my conscience sought not to do. All I can do now is to watch the situation as closely as possible and, on the basis of the results secured during the balance of the current school year, figure out the wisest plane for the future.

Wellesley is an excellent college, and if it is your preference that Mary should go there, we will have that college in view. The entrance requirements are high and similar to those of Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Vassar. Whether Mary is capable of meeting these high requirements, I am not quite sure. Her Abbot Academy teachers and Miss Clemons are agreed in feeling that Mary will not find this an easy task and that it is a serious question whether she ought to be pushed to accomplish it. Their feeling is, and I am almost inclined to share it, that Mary would do much better in same smaller and less exacting college, of which there are a number in this country and which still rank high in the public estimation. Here again we can perhaps reach a fairer decision when we have before us the final record of the current school year, and especially that which the new conditions will accomplish.

I have accepted Dr. Alfred Sze’s invitation to Mary to pass the coming spring vacation with him and his wife in Washington. I have also written him very frankly of the difficult problem we have had to face in Mary’s case during recent weeks and the complications that were necessarily involved. I hope that 
Dr. and Mrs.Sze will be able to convince Mary that our decision is all for the best and should be accepted in a spirit of hearty cooperation.

Just a word as to Tom. The more I have thought over his case and the more I have talked with him, as well as with Arthur and Charlie, the more I am inclined to feel that Tom ought to go to some small but high grade college after he leaves us. While I would be disposed to favor the business course in his case, I know of no good business college that is not located in one of our large cities that does not have rather loose supervision of its pupils. Tom is not stable enough, in my judgment, to profit by such conditions, and for that reason, primarily, I am disposed to favor a small country college - such a college, for example, as Middlebury College in Vermont or Hamilton College in New York, or perhaps a somewhat larger one like Amherst or Wesleyan. If Tom makes a creditable record, a business course later would be all the more valuable to him, while, on the other hand, the college work itself might turn his interest in a wholly new and unexpected direction.

Trusting that your country may soon shake itself loose from the militarists who have been causing it so mush injury and distress and with assurance of my high regard and esteem, believe me

Very sincerely yours,


Dr. Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


March 19, 1926


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