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From the Knewton Blog, Jose Ferreira the CEO and founder, describes the American undergraduate experience and how Americans perception of the undergraduate experience is changing.

Americans have accrued $1.2 trillion in student debt. More debt cannot continue to be the answer to college accessibility. Innovation is the answer. Innovation is the enemy of broken ecosystems. Sometimes innovation has to wait for the right technology. Today that technology is here. In ten years, half of all credit-bearing college courses in America will be delivered over the internet.

What does the American undergraduate experience look like today?

About a third of college students live with parents or other relatives.
One in five is at least 30 years old.
Thirty-seven percent go to school part-time.
Almost 2 of 5 attend two-year community colleges.
Only 60% of students who started a four-year college in 2007 graduated from the same school by 2013. (When statisticians measure graduation rates at four-year colleges, they now look at a six-year window.)
Two-thirds of adults who come back to college after a year away don’t graduate.

Before the Civil War, “college” typically meant private institutions emphasizing Classical languages and schools for future ministers, teachers, and military officers. In 1862, the First Morrill Act gave land to each state for a university to teach “agriculture and the mechanic arts… to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes.” In 1890, a second Morrill Act established additional land-grant universities for African Americans in the segregated South.

Since World War II, we’ve seen a boom in public colleges, two-year community colleges, and for-profit colleges to meet demand that began with the G.I. Bill. More recently, demand has further increased with the shift from an industrial to an information economy. Enrollment has grown from 10% to 41% of 18–24 year olds and from 2 million to 17.5 million overall. Veterans, working mothers, and other so-called “nontraditional” students are the latest groups to be accommodated by our national higher educational system.

Meanwhile, the cost of higher education keeps rising. In his book, Kaplan CEO Andy Rosen observes that undergraduate institutions, including many of the original land grant colleges, have been bulking up not only academically but with amenities like ever fancier student centers and athletic facilities, rock climbing walls and jacuzzis.