A History of American Higher Education

A History of American Higher Education blog will take you on a journey through the evolution of colleges and universities in the United States.

Checkout this video:

Pre-Revolutionary America

In the early days of American colonial settlement, higher education was not a priority. Families who could afford it sent their sons to grammar school or, more frequently, to one of the colleges in England, Scotland, or Ireland. In the middle colonies, some colleges were established, but few students matriculated. The college at William and Mary, for example, was founded in 1693 but did not enroll its first class of students until 1716. In the late 1600s, the idea of establishing a college in every colony took hold, and several institutions were established.

The first American colleges

Pre-Revolutionary America saw the rise of the first American colleges. These institutions were founded in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and were heavily influenced by their European counterparts. The first college in America was Harvard College, which was founded in 1636. Other notable early colleges include the College of William and Mary (1693), Yale College (1701), Princeton University (1746), and Columbia University (1754).

These early colleges were typically small institutions with fewer than a hundred students. They were also quite exclusive, as they were only open to young men from wealthy families. The curriculum at these colleges was largely focused on religious studies and classical languages such as Latin and Greek.

Despite their exclusivity, the early American colleges played an important role in the intellectual and social life of the fledgling nation. Many of the nation’s leaders, including several of its Founding Fathers, were educated at these institutions.

The rise of the Ivy League

The Ivy League is a group of eight private research universities in the northeastern United States. The term Ivy League is typically used beyond the sports context to refer to the eight schools as a group of elite colleges with a long history of academic excellence.

The Ivy League was founded in 1954 as an athletic conference, and its members are all located in the northeastern United States. The schools are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

Ivy League schools are some of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the United States. They have produced many notable alumni, including several U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, and business leaders. The Ivies also boast very successful athletics programs; all eight schools are members of the NCAA Division I and participate in sports such as baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, rowing, and soccer.

The Revolutionary and Early National Periods

The history of American higher education began long before the founding of the United States. In 1636, Harvard University was founded in Massachusetts. In 1701, Yale University was founded in Connecticut. In 1746, Princeton University was founded in New Jersey. These were the first three colleges in the United States.

The impact of the Revolution on higher education

While few colleges were actually located in the thirteen colonies that declared independence in 1776, the Revolutionary War had a significant impact on higher education. Prior to the war, the primary purpose of colleges was to train young men for the ministry. But with the turmoil of war and subsequent changes in government, there was a shift in emphasis to preparing students for leadership roles in a new republic. In addition, many colleges were forced to close their doors during the war due to a shortage of students and resources.

  What Can You Do With A Masters In Nursing Education?

After the war, several new colleges were founded, includingThe impact of the Revolution on higher education
While few colleges were actually located in the thirteen colonies that declared independence in 1776, the Revolutionary War had a significant impact on higher education. Prior to the war, the primary purpose of colleges was to train young men for the ministry. But with the turmoil of war and subsequent changes in government, there was a shift in emphasis to preparing students for leadership roles in a new republic. In addition, many colleges were forced to close their doors during the war due to a shortage of students and resources.

After the war, several new colleges were founded, including The College of William & Mary (1779), The University of Georgia (1785), and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1789). These institutions reflected the changing purpose of higher education, as they all included programs designed to educate students for leadership positions in government and society.

The rise of the state university

In the early years of the republic, most colleges were private institutions, many of them affiliated with churches. But as the nation expanded and grew more populous, the need for public institutions of higher learning began to be felt. In 1785, for example, Thomas Jefferson--who believed that democracy depended on an educated citizenry--proposed a plan for a state-supported university in Virginia. The Virginia legislature approved Jefferson’s plan, and in 1819 the University of Virginia was founded.

Other states soon followed Virginia’s lead. In 1825 Kentucky established Transylvania University, and in 1826 Tennessee opened East Tennessee College (now the University of Tennessee). In 1827 Ohio chartered Ohio University, and in 1830 MichiganState University was chartered as the first state university west of the Appalachian Mountains. By mid-century nearly every state in the Union had at least one state-supported college or university.

The state universities differed in important respects from their private counterparts. They were usually located in less populous areas of the states--often in frontier regions--and they tended to be larger and more comprehensive in their programs than private colleges. They also differed from private institutions in that they were designed to serve the people of the entire state, not just those who could afford to pay tuition. State universities typically offered lower tuitions than private colleges and provided financial assistance to needy students through programs such as scholarships and work-study arrangements.

The Nineteenth Century

American higher education began in the nineteenth century with a handful of small, private colleges catering to the children of the elite. Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, and Princeton were among the first colleges established in the American colonies. These institutions offered a classical liberal arts education modeled after the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge in England.

The expansion of higher education

The expansion of higher education in the United States began in the nineteenth century with the addition of a number of private, religiously affiliated colleges. Among the most important were Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, which were founded in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These schools represented a small elite, however, and were not open to all students. In addition, they did not offer the professional training that was becoming increasingly important in a rapidly developing nation.

The 19th century saw the establishment of a number of public universities, which began to provide mass access to higher education. The first of these was the University of Georgia, founded in 1785. This was followed by a wave of state universities established in the years between 1820 and 1860. These included such schools as the University of Virginia (1819), UNC Chapel Hill (1789), and Rutgers (1766).

  What Does Act Stand For In Education?

The Morrill Act of 1862 provided federal lands to states for the establishment of colleges specializing in agriculture and engineering. This led to the creation of a number of land-grant universities, such as Michigan State University (1855) and Iowa State University (1858).

In addition to these state-funded institutions, a number of private colleges were also established in the nineteenth century. These included such schools as Brown (1764), Columbia (1754), Cornell (1865), Dartmouth (1769), Johns Hopkins (1876), Northwestern (1851), Notre Dame (1842), Vanderbilt (1873), and Washington & Lee (1749).

The rise of the research university

In the late 19th century, a new type of university emerged in the United States, one that emphasized research and focused on graduate students. Known as the research university, this institution was modeled after German institutions and represented a sharp departure from the traditional American college.

The first research university in the United States was Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876. Johns Hopkins was different from other colleges of its day in several important ways. First, it was a private university, not affiliated with any religious denomination. Second, it had a explicitly stated goal of advancing knowledge through research. Third, it admitted students regardless of their religious affiliation (a departure from the tradition of American colleges, which were almost exclusively Christian). Finally, it offered graduate degrees—a revolutionary idea in American higher education.

The success of Johns Hopkins led to the proliferation of research universities across the United States. By 1900, there were nearly two dozen such institutions, including such now-famous schools as Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago. These schools attracted the best and brightest students from across the country and quickly became leaders in cutting-edge research.

The Twentieth Century

The expansion of higher education

The expansion of higher education in the early twentieth century was spurred by a number of factors, including the spread of the Progressive movement, an increase in the number of high school graduates, and the increasing importance of higher education for economic success. The Progressive movement placed a new emphasis on education as a way to create a more just and equitable society, and this led to a push for expanding access to higher education. The number of high school graduates increased dramatically in the first half of the twentieth century, due in part to the spread of compulsory education laws. And as the economy became increasingly complex and competitive, employers began to demand higher levels of educational attainment from job applicants.

As a result of these trends, the number of college students in the United States increased from about 1 million in 1900 to 5 million by 1930. This growth was made possible by a significant expansion in the capacity of colleges and universities, which went from about 400 institutions in 1900 to more than 1,500 by 1930. The vast majority of these new institutions were located in cities and towns across the country, making higher education more accessible to a wider range of Americans than ever before.

The rise of the community college

In the early twentieth century, American higher education underwent a period of dramatic expansion. The number of colleges and universities increased rapidly, and new types of institutions were established, including community colleges.

  What Is Secular Education?

Community colleges are two-year institutions that offer associate degrees and certificates in a variety of academic and professional fields. They emerged in the early 1900s as a way to provide affordable, accessible education to a wider range of people. Today, community colleges play an important role in the American higher education system, serving millions of students each year.

The Twenty-First Century

In the 21st century, American higher education is at a crossroads. The traditional model of higher education, based on a residential undergraduate experience and leading to a bachelor’s degree, has been under stress for some time. Increasingly, students are taking a more diverse set of courses at a variety of institutions, both traditional and nontraditional.

The expansion of higher education

The expansion of higher education in the United States began as a result of the GI Bill, which was passed in 1944. This bill provided financial assistance to returning soldiers who wanted to attend college. As a result of the GI Bill, millions of Americans were able to attend college and earn degrees.

The expansion of higher education continued in the 1960s with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. As a result of the Civil Rights Act, many more Americans were able to attend college and earn degrees.

Today, the expansion of higher education in the United States continues with the help of financial aid programs like the Pell Grant program. The Pell Grant program provides financial assistance to low-income students who want to attend college. In 2017-2018, the Pell Grant program provided $28.2 billion in grants to 7 million students.

The rise of online education

The rise of online education has been one of the most transformational changes in higher education in the 21st century. Online education has grown at an amazing rate over the past decade, and this growth is expected to continue in the coming years.

There are many reasons for the growth of online education, but one of the most important is the increasing number of adults who are going back to school to earn a degree or certificate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 4 million adults were enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2007, and about 1.6 million of them were enrolled in an online program.

Another important reason for the growth of online education is the increasing number of colleges and universities that are offering online programs. In 2007, there were more than 2,000 accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States, and about one-third of them offered at least some courses online.

The advantages of online education are numerous. For adult learners who are working full-time or raising a family, online courses offer flexibility that traditional courses do not. Online courses also offer students the opportunity to take courses from anywhere in the world, which is especially important for students who live in rural areas or who have difficulty traveling to campus.

There are some disadvantages to online education as well, including a lack of face-to-face interaction with instructors and classmates, and a potential for cheating and plagiarism. However, these disadvantages can be mitigated by choosing a reputable and accredited online program, and by taking measures to prevent cheating and plagiarism such as using plagiarism detection software.

Scroll to Top