Attitudes to Education Reflected in the Context of the US College Admissions Scandal
The following paper discusses contemporary challenges of providing access to formally accredited higher education programs in the United States of America, and on a smaller scale also in Slovenia. It interprets the recent college admissions scandal within the historical framework of American educational policies, paired with its traditional social practices. In the initial sections, the paper provides a brief historical overview of the development of American (higher) education, the beginnings of which date as far back as the early 17th century. Back then, the very concept of formal and publicly accessible education was in its developmental stages. By focusing on a selection of historical aspects and educational trends within the American national context, the paper unveils the related expectations and attitudes toward acquiring formal education in the past. It lists a number of historically relevant changes, which have been implemented over the past century within the American educational system at state and federal levels. The latter have contributed to the development of contemporary approaches to education and have affected recent attitudes toward formal education in American society. The paper includes statistical data on enrolments and graduation rates in institutions of higher education in the United States and Slovenia, which offers an insight into the rising enrolment and graduation trends, and relates the figures to the importance of accessibility of education as an equalizer that should provide equality of opportunity for all, irrespective of social background or economic power. The accrued data and related research results support a favorable trend in accessibility of formal education in both countries, the US and Slovenia. This is an important finding, particularly in the context of the college tuition scandal, as it might at first sight create the impression that some of the highly valued and formally accredited institutions of higher education were subject to the influence of a powerful elite. The research results therefore support the trend of the educational system and the accrued knowledge assuming the role of the equalizer in leveling out certain aspects of social inequality.
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