In his excellent book about the American higher education system A Perfect Mess, David Labaree makes the following point about how the American university system came to be so hyper-competitive.

Its origins were remarkably humble: a loose assortment of parochial nineteenth-century liberal arts colleges, which emerged in the pursuit of sectarian expansion and civic boosterism more than scholarly distinction. These colleges had no academic credibility, no reliable source of students, and no steady funding. Yet these weaknesses of the American … [ Read More ]