Is it true that children as young as eight years of age were accepted as students in the 18th and 19th centuries?
Our original admission requirements, as set down by John Carroll, stipulated that children had to be at least eight years old and know how to read before they could be enrolled. However, records in the Archives reveal that boys as young as six were admitted, including one from Peru in 1858. By the late 1860s, however, the admissions policy was under review. In 1869, after nine-year-old Eugene Arnold ran away, the official Jesuit diarist expressed the hope that he would be “the last of the babies.” The following year, it was decided that no students younger than twelve could be accepted, twelve having been determined to be “an age at which one is capable of appreciating the advantages of college life.” (Note to readers concerned about Master Arnold’s fate: it is unclear whether he was ever returned to Georgetown; however, he lived at 1633 31st Street and so did not have far to travel after his escape. He entered Notre Dame in 1874 and appears to have dealt better with his second try at college life, as he graduated from there in 1878. It seems also that there was no lasting ill-will between Georgetown and young Eugene. He re-enrolled here in 1878, this time in the Law Department, and the following year earned the degree of Master of Laws. He has the distinction of being the first person to earn this degree from Georgetown.)