The Hegemony of Higher Education in America

College or any institution of higher education in general is instilled in the minds of Americans as the only path for advancement in regard to leading a successful life. The ideology is that through higher education there are more opportunities that are presented in the career front that will constitute a more successful life. How did this ideology become the one that we associate with higher education, or more importantly when?

When we look at the system of higher education during the early years of this country not everyone was given the privilege of attending an institution of higher education. This is mainly because it was viewed as just that, a privilege. It was those who came from elite and predominant families who more often than not perused higher education and became doctors, lawyers, and philosophers. Higher education was a means for intellectual stimulation and societal advancement.

So when did the primary reason as to why those who pursue higher education become so that they can seek a certain career path in order to move up the economic latter? When did college come to seem like more of a chore rather than seen as an opportunity to expand one’s intellectual horizon as the primary focus?

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3 thoughts on “The Hegemony of Higher Education in America

  1. A repercussion of the hegemony of higher education is an increased competitiveness among students applying to four-year colleges. As you mentioned, it has been instilled in the minds of young Americans that going to college is a given. From an early age, children are pushed to do well in school so that they can be more competent when applying for universities. From personal experience, I cannot recall a time where I considered ending my education after high school. Parents, teachers, or the school system in general can drive these pressures. Some may believe this is beneficial to American society: we will have a more educated working class in America. However, the competition that continuously rises can become an issue in the future since college may now be considered a “chore.”

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  2. Esther Park
    I agree that education in the U.S has been considered a ladder to achieve success and nothing much more. The more you educate yourself, the more opportunities of success you have. I believe this ideology came from the fact that Americans weren’t privileged with this type of education. We always hear “I never had the chance to study when I was your age” from older generations. So the older generations push us harder in these ways. Growing up hearing these things, it became an ideology to pursue far into education. Our ideologies have evolved to the point where now education is mandatory and similar to a chore. It has become hegemonic in our culture to try to achieve farther in our education to cease every opportunity made available to us.

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  3. Although I agree that higher education opportunities have become more common and accessible, I disagree in the regard that most people view college as a chore. Many students chose specific colleges for their programs in fields of study that interest them. For example, we see thousands of students study art and music, which have often proved difficult areas of study for lucrative, long-lasting careers. However, these students continue to study art and music because it interests them and they want to learn more. And we also see many students who enter college with the hope that doing so will help them discover what they enjoy learning about. So although some students may find college a chore, I think there are considerably more students who genuinely value the “opportunities to expand one’s intellectual horizon”.

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