When the University of Nebraska was just starting out students could choose from three course paths: The Classical, The Scientific, and The Selected. Classical was the study of literature and fine arts; Scientific, the study of math and science. The “Selected” course path was only for highly gifted students who were given the privilege to mix the other two course paths and make their own curriculum. As the years went on and more students enrolled, more courses and career paths were offered. The Goal was to have six main colleges: Ancient and Modern literature, mathematics, and natural sciences; agriculture; law; medicine; practical science, civil engineering, and mechanics; and a college of fine arts. It would take time for these all to develop and some would fail along the way.
The first class room experiences involved teachers purely lecturing students out of a textbook based purely on known facts. Students were expected to be in class for hours per day, and lab was unheard of. There was no real creativity, and research was not a part of the curriculum. In the next twenty years this changed a lot, and the university ended up being very much researched based, as it is today.