SCUP
Planning for Higher Education Journal

The Next Great Wave in American Higher Education

Journal Cover
From Volume 31 Number 2 | December–February 2002
By Jamees Ottavio Castagnera

Institutions referenced in this resource:
Case Western Reserve University, Franklin and Marshall College, Knox College, Wheaton College, Oberlin College, Illinois College, Mott Community College, Harvard University, Swarthmore College, Haverford College, Cleveland State University, McNeese State University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Four distinct waves can be discerned in the history of American higher education. The 85 years before the Civil War were characterized by the founding of hundreds of liberal arts colleges. The post–Civil War era saw the majority of these small colleges disappear, replaced by public land-grant schools. Around the turn of the last century, the giants of American industry led the founding of the great private research universities. The term "megaversity" entered the American lexicon after World War II, when thousands of returning GIs swelled the ranks of higher education; the second half of the 20th century also witnessed the proliferation of community colleges. The fifth great wave is now breaking, with for-profit competition and revolutionary teaching technologies among its main characteristics.

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