Madras Christian College, since its inception as a School, always believed in offering holistic education to the wider sections of the society without any discrimination. As part of this, Anderson started the hostels so that the students could stay back and develop integrated outlook of life, a journal, debating forums every Wednesday, and so on. Miller further widened the scope of this holistic education with the founding of various associations, clubs and societies.
In the Tambaram era, the earliest of the Extension Units had been the Maternity and Child Welfare Center founded by Mrs Barnes with the help from the local residents. Soon she involved the Staff wives who played a sacrificial role in strengthening this Unit, and also starting the Oxfam School as the natural consequence to educate the babies born in the center.
Several others were soon initiated: The Rural Service League, The Farm, the Family Life Institute to mention a few. The Governmental programs such as the National Service Scheme, the National Cadet Corps. Were also carried out with great zeal in the College. The Student Christian Movement started a life-transforming Leprosy Unit at Pammal in the 40's, a bold venture for any academic institution. All these and more have been helping students to undergo educational training in its most comprehensive sense.
The importance and the far-fetching results of these extension units can be gauged by this perceptive observation of Dr. Malcolm Adiseshiah, who was a Professor and Head of the department of Economics, and who later on became the Deputy Director- General of the UNESCO: "This dear College (MCC) was my home ground for 6 years, where I was given the spiritual support and material means for experimenting with education as the motive force for developing people; the villages of Kadapperi, Selaiyur, Irumbiliyur and Mappedu in Tambaram with their Rural Service Center where we worked out economics of hand-pounded rice, crop rotation and rural credit, rural medicine and sanitation, adult literacy and curricular reform were the testing ground for the many ideas and plans that I carried with me for the UNESCO in Paris and from there to the four corners of the earth."