Higher Education in U.S. Historical Events That Essay

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Historical Events

Events that influenced the development of higher education in U.S.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, U.S. higher education stands for an impressive enterprise. Also, as an established industry of knowledge, higher education represents approximately 3% of the U.S. GDP. Virtually every legislature and govern in the United States evoke universities and colleges as fundamental to cultural, economic and social development of the U.S.A. Since the 17th century, the American higher education grew to fruition in the subsequent centuries. Similarly, differences emerged with each new period of collegiate development, but history has remained one of advancing access.


Research indicates that there are key events that influence the development and growth of higher education in the U.S.A. Colonialist established institutions of higher education mainly for various reasons. For instance, New England settlers involved various alumni of the Oxford, Cambridge and royally chartered British universities, and thus believed that education was crucial (Goldin & Katz, 2008). Additionally, Puritan emphasized an educated leadership and a learned clergy. In 1936, their outlook created Harvard College. Between the foundation of Harvard and the beginning of the American Revolution, American colonist created nine other colleges and seminaries though only one college in the South.

Religion offered a crucial impetus for the establishment of colonial colleges. Also, as the 1730-1770s First Great Awakening initiated growth in various Protestant churches, each church desired to establish its own seminary. Moreover, each colony tended to support a certain denomination and thus new colleges and universities achieved significance for regional development. Through colonial colleges and universities were frontier institutions that enhanced access to higher education, by modern standards of the colonial era remained exclusionary and elite (Zemsky, Shaman & Shapiro, 2001).

With the establishment of the U.S.A., government policies concerning English chartered colleges were unclear.
Wary of centralized state power, Americans maintained control of education close at home. Thus, colonial colleges' governance became nearly exclusively the state and local government jurisdiction. In other words, colleges enjoyed independence as the famous Dartmouth decision of the Supreme Court in 1819 showed that the contemporary federal government would control state intervention over colleges (Mestenhauser, & Ellingboe, 1998).

In addition, with the reputation of high institutions of learning to remain high, various states, legislatures in the newer states of Appalachian mountain ranges and the Allegheny, looked favourably on supporting colleges as long as no financial support was provided by the state. Consequently between early 1800 and 1850, the U.S. experienced a boom in the college building in which over two hundred institutions offering degrees were established. However, since a number of these colleges depended entirely on local donors and student tuition payments, there was also an increased rate of closure and colleges that survived struggled to maintain their existence.

In the mid 19th century, numerous groups and conspicuous church related colleges of liberal arts established various other special interest colleges for advanced study, which included proprietary medical schools, agricultural colleges, freestanding law schools, scientific colleges and engineering schools. Private philanthropy demonstrated a growing United States interest in establishing new institutions focused on advanced technical, engineering and scientific education, (Zemsky, Shaman & Shapiro, 2001).

Another significant motivation was the direct involvement of the federal government in higher education during the civil war. The federal government gave political strength and support to grant colleges to expand the scope and definition of university curricula. The 1890 Second Morrill Act and Hatch Act continued the extension of the federal government involvement in higher education by providing federal projects….....

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