Societal Influences on Higher Education
by Tracy Harrington-Atkinson
Society continues to direct and guide the American higher education system. Since the beginning of the formation of the young nation, society has mandated how higher education can best meet its needs. With the expansion of the new country, trades and education were essential to support the increasing needs. Education became the foundation as formalized education replaced the traditional apprenticeships so previously widely used.
These changes are witnessed today as increasingly more minorities are educated. Within the last era from 1994 to present day, “underrepresented groups continued to make gains” (Cohen & Kisker, 2010, p 439). Today, more women are earning higher education degrees than men. Lee (2010) contributes this statistic to several reasons. Women tend to remain in high school and have a greater willingness to stick to higher education than their male counterparts. Gender roles are also changing in our society. And lastly, colleges are courting women into attending their schools in order to be compliant to the Title IX law of 1972 which states “ No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The law was basically enacted to ensure that women would be afforded the same educational and athletic opportunities as men” (p 1).
The American higher education witnessed the change from being givers of information to creators of information which continues today. Society continues to believe that education is the source of upward mobility and success. It is an essential component for the well being of society (Higher Education, 2010). “National vitality will depend not only on the relative ages of the population but also on the energy and eagerness of immigrants to seek educational opportunities and the tendency of society to provide for socioeconomic mobility” (Cohen & Kisker, 2010, p 442).
Education became the essential ingredient to support the infrastructure of this swiftly expanding nation as the people are encouraged to seek as much education as possible in their careers and fields. Through such dedication to the acquisition of knowledge, the people are lifted from a poverty stricken state to being successful contributors of a needing society. Every citizen has a role to play and a contribution to make in this country (Cohen & Kisker, 2010).
Cohen, A. & Kisker, C. (2010). The shaping of American higher education: Emergence and growth of the contemporary system. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Higher Education. (2010). Conjoining Self-Interest and Societal Purpose. Retrieved from www.highereducation.org/reports/wegner/cssp.shtml
By Tracy Harrington-Atkinson
Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, a master’s in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.