The Vision of the Public Junior College, 1900-1940: Professional Goals and Popular Aspirations

The Vision of the Public Junior College, 1900-1940: Professional Goals and Popular Aspirations

The Vision of the Public Junior College, 1900-1940: Professional Goals and Popular Aspirations

The Vision of the Public Junior College, 1900-1940: Professional Goals and Popular Aspirations

Synopsis

Public junior colleges grew rapidly between 1900 and 1940. During that time, a group of nationally prominent leaders argued that the junior college should provide a terminal education and preparation for semiprofessional careers. Frye argues that this national vision of the junior college was frustrated by the goals and aspirations of the students, who saw the junior college as a point of access to higher social status through further education. Drawing on a range of sources, Frye demonstrates the impact of changing social values and demographic patterns on the evolution of the junior college during this period.

Excerpt

Rapid social change occurred in the United States between 1900 and 1940. This change was induced by industrialization and economic development. Profound structural changes in American society resulted in great social stress. The social changes appeared most profoundly to the majority of citizens not in the statistics of gross national product or the growth of technological inventions but in the dramatic occupational changes that faced fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. Agricultural pursuits, which had dominated occupational opportunities, declined in importance as newer and ever more specialized occupations grew in number and in demand for workers.

With the change in types and numbers of occupations and their focus in towns and cities, other elements of the social structure also changed. Residence patterns, family structure, inheritance traditions, property holding, and other structures departed markedly from patterns in the immediate past. Physical mobility, immigration, internal migration, access to status roles, and other changes consequent to these structural changes produced social stress. Like other social institutions, education reacted to this stress and developed an ideology and program to deal with it. The invention of the junior college and its program can be understood as a response to this stress.

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