The American system of higher education is huge and unorganised; its quality varies from stellar to crepuscular; and in everything from curriculum to administration it presents an astonishing combination of enlightenment and reaction.
The bare numbers are startling. Almost 14m Americans attend college. It was 2m after the war, about 3.5m at the beginning of the 1960s, and 12m at the end.
Three-quarters of a million “instructors with the rank of professor” teach these numbers, along with graduate students, adjuncts, and people moonlighting from their real jobs as cab-drivers. Colleges range in size from behemoths of 53,000 students-such as Ohio…
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