Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Contributors to the Evolution of American Higher Education System

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The evolution of Higher Educational System the United States can be attributed from several components. Among these attributes are the 1944 GI Bill of Rights and the appointment of the President's Commission on Higher Education by President Truman in 1946. Such significant contributions not only greatly affected the American Education System during those times but also served as catalysts that continue to benefit the modern society. These also paved the way improvement, acceleration and the widening the system of education as well as has opened opportunities for Americans of past, present and future generations.

The significant development of the American higher education system can be traced from the enactment by President Franklin Roosevelt on June 22, 1944 of the “GI Bill of Rights” which was also called as the “Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944” (cited in Greenberg, 2007, p. 47). The law changed the American economic and social standpoints since among its provisions provided veterans of World War II an easy and immediate financial assistance by means of unemployment insurance.

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Most importantly, the law gave American veterans big opportunities such as vocational and practical activities relating to college learning as well as free access to housing and business loans (Greenberg, 2007). One of the permanent legacies of the GI Bill of Rights is now the ordinary impression that anyone can and should have education irrespective of “age, sex, race, religion, or family status” (Greenberg, 2007, p. 49). The law was also noted for bringing back the veterans' interest in education, majority of who have not achieved even secondary diplomas because of the World War II.

With the provision of a better quality of higher education which the veterans have longed for, the law provided a broad and lasting acceptance of the notion that learning, particularly post-secondary or college education is the Americans' pathway to an improved employment and life (Greenberg, 2007). Aside from providing Americans from all walks of life a practical access to higher education, the GI Bill of Rights has also altered the definition of college learning in public awareness starting from 1950s until today.

Before the war, the system was characterized mostly by “private, liberal arts, small-college, rural, residential, elitist, and often discriminatory from institution to institution with respect to race and religion” (Greenberg, 2007, p. 50). However, the current higher education system now is noticeably public that centers on “occupational, technical, and scientific education, huge, urban-oriented, suitable for commuter attendance, and highly democratic” (Greenberg, 2007, p. 50).

At present, the system focuses and offers quality cultural, learning and financial aspects of higher education instead of just authorization of the upper members of the society. Lastly, the law is best noted as one factor that led to tremendous social change. Since there was shake up of perspectives as regards “sex, religion, and race,” the law subjected even the ordinary Americans to liberated ideas of the society by means of higher education (Greeberg, 2007, p. 51). Meanwhile, a lot of veterans returned to college or post-secondary education in 1946.

The heavy influx of students and industrialization of the economy, however, overstressed the system, curriculum and facilities. Additionally, the increasing number of war veterans studying again aggravated the existing educational problems being experienced by regular college students. This is because the group of veterans has to struggle it out with the American youth in their pursuit of a quality higher education. Hence, both the two groups increased the demands of college education.

However, government assets and means of instrument are unable to adapt with the requirements such as an increased enrollees as well as variety of needs and involvements of both the veterans and youth as college students (Alexander, 1998). With the above situation in 1946, President Truman established a “President's Commission on Higher Education” and said that “we should now reexamine our system of higher education in terms of its objectives, methods, and facilities; and in the light of the social role it has to play” (President's Commission on Higher Education, 1947).

The committee was composed of 28 prominent and outstanding Americans such as professionals and laymen like George F. Zook. The group immediately worked and in December of 1947, made a 377-page report titled “Higher Education for American Democracy” which was composed of six volumes under the following titles: “Establishing the Goals, Equalizing and Expanding Individual Opportunity, Organizing Higher Education, Staffing Higher Education, Financing Higher Education and Resource Data” (President's Commission on Higher Education, 1947, pp.

1-3, 5-8, 25-29, 32-39, 47-49). With a task to carry out what President Truman has said and define the obligations of colleges and universities, the commissions worked it out with the said educational facilities but were initially unsatisfied with the results. This is because education experts noted an apprehensive sense of failure or defect in the system. They also felt that the facilities are unable to keep up with the pace of the ever-changing state of the system as the society.

Additionally, they see a need to re-pattern everything in order to meet the needs and address the concerns of the veterans and youth students which eventually will bring out the effectiveness of the modern education and system and society Moreover, the escalating desire of Americans to aspire for college education and critical necessity for such effective system became the determining factors for the need to improve the execution of the conventional tasks.

This, in effect, eventually enabled the system, to assume the new challenge such the as re-entry in college of war veterans as the growing number of youth students, who are both motivated to improve their worth as a free and educated Americans (Alexander, 1998). The above-cited commission and measure are both significant as they greatly contributed on the evolution of the American Higher Education System. This is because the improved system of American higher education enabled the achievement of a more quality of living and democracy in the country for the reason that the benefits equally extended to all citizens.

The GI Bill of Rights and 1947 President's Commission on Higher Education have proven their existence and worth because they paved the way for renouncing the unfair education practices of discrimination and separation. Moreover, the said two contributors have resulted in leaders' realization of the importance of quality and accessible college education system and equal opportunities in life. Ultimately, higher education system should be targeted at weakening as well as getting rid of learning discrimination and eventually establishing attitude that will offer the system freely accessible to all Americans. References

Alexander, F. K. (1998). The President's Commission Higher Education for Democracy, 1947. The American College and University EOL 474. Retrieved June 20, 2008 from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign database. Greenberg, M. (2007). The GI Bill of Rights. Historians on America: Decisions that Made America (pp. 46-54). Washington, DC: U. S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs President's Commission on Higher Education. (1947). Higher Education for American Democracy: A Report of the President's Commission on Higher Education. Washington, D. C. : Government Printing Office.a

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