The definitive history of American higher education-now up to date. Exploring American higher education from its founding in the seventeenth century to its struggle to innovate and adapt in the first decades of the twenty-first century, Thelin demonstrates that the experience of going to college has been central to American life for generations of students and their families. Drawing from archival research, along with the pioneering scholarship of leading historians, Thelin raises profound questions about what colleges are-and what they should be. Covering issues of social class, race, gender, and ethnicity in each era and chapter, this new edition showcases a fresh concluding chapter that focuses on both the opportunities and problems American higher education has faced since 2010. The essay on sources has been revised to incorporate books and articles published over the past decade. The book also updates the discussion of perennial hot-button issues such as big-time sports programs, online learning, the debt crisis, the adjunct crisis, and the return of the culture wars and addresses current areas of contention, including the changing role of governing boards and the financial challenges posed by the economic downturn.