“Norske studenter: der har absolveret examen artium ved Christiania Universitet” by Paul Botten-Hansen, 1893.
["Norwegian students who have graduated from Christiania University"--(the city of Christiana is now Oslo)]
Botten-Hansen's book reports the grades assigned to the entrance examination to the University, the grades assigned to the final examination, and the professions of graduates after completing their degrees.
On page 3 the book reports that Even M.S. Cormontan (Theodora's father) entered the university in 1817 and graduated in 1824. There were 24 students recorded in this class. Three graduated as early as 1821. Eleven students graduated before 1824, the rest graduated in 1824 or later (it appears three did not graduate), so seven years at the university appears to be in the normal range of length of attendance.
Grading utilized the Latin Scale, with the numbers 1-4 signifiying the following:
1. Laudabilis prae ceteris: Excellent
2. Laudabilis: Very good
3. Haud illaudabilis: Good
4. Non contenendus: Not commendable but passing
Even scored a 3 in his entrance exam and a 3 in his final (or second) exam. It appears that a score between 1 and 4 was needed in the entrance exam to pass, and 1-3 in the final. 3’s and 2’s are the predominant scores, with two 1’s in the final and one 4 in the entrance. The graduates went on to various careers, including a few professors and a postmaster. The predominant degree was theology and the predominant profession was the clergy for the Church of Norway, with nine graduates noted in that profession. This included Even, whom the book notes was a clergyman in Arendal, Norway before going to America.
C.G.V. Cormontan (Theodora's brother) entered the University in 1856 in a class of 109, as noted on page 87. He did not graduate until 1868. Only one other student graduated later, in 1869. Another student earned a second degree in 1872. Everyone else graduated earlier. One mitigating factor may have been that C.G.V. earned his masters degree--perhaps many of the others did not get a masters. On the other hand, while C.G.V. received a 3 in his entrance exam and a 3 in his final exam (just like his father), he does not appear to be a strong student, at least in the opinion of the University. There is a category after the degree designation in the book denoted as “Charakterer.” This appears to translate as “Character.” While most of C.G.V.’s classmates received a 2 or a 3 (just a few earned a 1), C.G.V. and just a few other graduates received a 4. Could this reflect a restlessness in C.G.V., and be related to the length of time it took him to earn the degree?
Still, he graduated with what appears to be a degree in Chemistry; at least, a degree that qualified him to be a pharmacist. The book notes that he lives in America with the profession of bookseller. While C.G.V.’s drug store in Franklin, Minnesota sold books and stationery (among many items), C.G.V. worked as a pharmacist, and likely as a doctor when the town doctor was unavailable. The book notes only one other graduate from C.G.V.'s class who subsequently immigrated to the US, and a second who ended up in London. The vast majority assumed professional positions in Norway. Again, did this unusual decision to go to the United States reflect a restlessness or an adventurous spirit in C.G.V.? Did it reflect a special concern for the (mostly) financially disadvantaged people from Norway who were immigrating to the United States and who would need medical professionals from their native Norway in the new land?
Most likely, C.G.V.'s decision to immigrate was born primarily of a desire to improve his opportunities. When he left Norway in the 1870's, a pharmacist had to work for someone else for an average of 16 years before the government would allow him to own his own pharmacy. When a pharmacist worked for someone else, he typically lived in the building where the pharmacy was located because he was required by law to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This profoundly impacted the quality of life of pharmacists who did not own their own business. For example, only about 20% ever married. C.G.V. probably came to the US not only to serve others, but to make a better life for himself.