Transitions in U.S. Higher Education Enrollment

The first university in the United States (U.S.) was Harvard University, founded in 1637.  Some of the oldest U.S. higher educational institutions also include the College of William and Mary, St. John’s College, and Yale University. Originally, these universities were exclusive to white men of wealthy backgrounds. It was not until 1837 that the first college integrated women into their system, Oberlin College. In that same year, the first historical black college and university (HBCU) was the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

Currently, the U.S. is home to over 4600 higher education institutions, with enrollment of over 22 million undergraduates and over 1.7 million post-baccalaureate students. Advances in technology and societal trends as a whole have greatly influenced higher education enrollment in the U.S. More students of various age groups and professions now have the ability to study online and seek additional education from massively open online courses (MOOCs). This has not caused a decline in demand for a physical presence in higher education or faculty, but rather, the U.S. has the largest number of PhD graduates in the world. With double the number of experts than the runner up, Germany, it is no wonder U.S. employers are demanding higher levels of education than was once required for the same job.


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