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Generation 8 - Hierarchical Differentiation Between the Wars

Enrollments in the 1920s approximately doubled as higher education institutions began to serve the masses.  Colleges and universities were no longer for only the elite members of society.  Below are some of the differences between elite and mass education. 

Elite Education
Mass Education
Full-time students
Part-time and commuter students
Students live on campus
"Real life" learning encouraged
Curriculum prepares for high-status careers
Prepare for technical or semi-professional jobs


During this time period, most normal schools became teachers colleges.  Teachers colleges were created as result of improvements in elementary and secondary schools. Teachers colleges completely focused on preparing students for careers in education.  They gave education degrees that competed with traditional colleges/universities.They also provided educational opportunities to a broader segment of the population, especially women. 


Junior colleges also appeared in the early 1900s in areas like the West, which were less popular.  In the early years, many junior colleges were still attached to high schools.  However, by 1940, 11% of college students were enrolled in junior colleges. Carnegie Foundation’s Report (1932), State Higher Education in California, differentiated between the university in Berkeley, state-system colleges and junior colleges, which were primarily vocational.


Although the transition to mass education was inevitable during this time period due to the growing appeal of higher education, some universities resisted this change.  President Ernest Hopkins of Dartmouth felt too many men were going to college.  Columbia introduced selective admissions where social background was used as part of the acceptance process.  Columbia wanted to limit the proportion of Jewish students.  Other institutions had similar discriminatory policies. 


Due to their admission criteria, schools such as Columbia, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton attracted a pool of national candidates.  Additional wealth of these universities allowed for more spending per student, the need for endowment, better faculty, and research. 


During the early 1900s, enrollment at many institutions increased substantially.  However, some Ivy League institutions grew even more competitive and attracted an even more elite pool of students than ever before.  In the coming years though, access to higher education would overcome the elite ideals.