Higher Education and the American Dream: Success and Its Discontents

Higher Education and the American Dream: Success and Its Discontents

Higher Education and the American Dream: Success and Its Discontents

Higher Education and the American Dream: Success and Its Discontents

Excerpt

See the USA in your Chevrolet
America is asking you to call
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
America's the greatest land of all
(Sung by Dinah Shore in a 1952 television advertisement)

The university has eliminated more than 500jobs, including deans, department chairmen and hundreds of teaching assistants. Last month Mr. Crow [the university president] announced that the university would close 48 programs, cap enrollment and move up the freshman application deadline by five months. Every employee, from Mr. Crow down, will have 10–15 days unpaid furlough this spring.

(New York Times, March 17, 2009)

This is a story of success, unbelievable success, and of the discontents that came with it. Higher education in the United States has been the victim of its own success. As it became the only route to an increasing number of professions and the primary path to economic success, it generated higher and higher expectations, an enormous expansion of enrollments, and money. With these, came discontent and disappointments.

During the last half of the 20th century higher education in the United States triumphed. Few industries grew as fast, or gained such prestige, or affected the lives of so many people. Higher education received remarkable sums of money from federal, state, and local governments. Alumni and foundations gave generously to it. Families reached into their savings, postponed purchases, and went into debt so that their children could go to college. Higher education, even more than elementary and secondary schools, simultaneously embodied both a public good and a private benefit. It served public purposes beneficial to the nation's economy, protected the national defense, opened up new avenues of knowledge, developed . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.