There are approximately 7,000 degree-granting and non-degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States.
It’s pretty interesting to think how all those schools, colleges, and universities developed over the past three centuries in response to specific demands during specific periods of this country’s history. We all know that it started with Harvard in 1636, but it’s fascinating to me to think how schools like Al’s Truck Driving School or Leticia’s Beauty and Massage College emerged in the early to mid-20th century as an answer to a problem that the country was facing at the time: not enough truck drivers who looked coiffed and manicured.
Anyway, higher ed’s rich and sordid history makes for some compelling drama, especially when you consider the diverse amalgamation of institutions that currently makes up the postsecondary landscape in this country. For example, I just had to cheer when I saw this banner while visiting the Wayne Community College site:
Heck, I’d want to go there.
I think sometimes the traditional image of college is so entrenched in the public’s consciousness that it’s easy to forget that there are so many different types of institutions offering so many different types of programs. I think for many (especially the low-income, minority, first-generation, and nontraditional students), the idea of college somehow becomes this epic, Dawson’s Creek-worthy endeavor that it intimidates and turns more people off than it should. I think as a nation we need to do a better job of highlighting all the different kinds of postsecondary institutions that are out there, ready to meet Americans wherever they are in their life journeys.
And while not everyone can nor should probably go to Harvard or Yale or Brown to study molecular biophysics, I’m a firm believer that everyone needs some kind of education after high school.