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What college was like the year you were born

  • 1941: Colleges take part in World War II efforts

    Many colleges and universities lost huge numbers of male students in 1941 when the country entered World War II. Some institutions helped with the war effort by giving physical campus space and instruction time to the military, per Tyler Kingkade of HuffPost.

  • 1942: College students join major civil rights organization

    The Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights organization, was founded in Chicago in 1942. College students played pivotal roles within the organization and worked to test civil rights laws in the subsequent decades.

  • 1943: Navy teams up with colleges

    The new V-12 Navy College Program began enrolling tens of thousands of participants in universities across the U.S. in 1943. The program was an effort to add more commissioned officers to the Navy during World War II.

  • 1944: Veterans get tuition through G.I. Bill

    Congress and President Roosevelt enacted the G.I. Bill in 1944. It provided military veterans with a slew of new benefits, including money to cover college tuition and help with the cost of living while pursuing an education.

  • 1945: Harvard Medical School admits women

    Harvard Medical School opened its doors to female students for the first time in history in 1945. The breakthrough in women’s education came almost a century after a woman first applied to the medical school, according to Colleen Walsh of The Harvard Gazette.

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  • 1946: Junior colleges become community colleges

    - Total enrollment: 2.1 million

    Jesse R. Bogue took on the role of executive secretary at the American Association of Junior Colleges in 1946 and made it his mission to rebrand these institutions as “community colleges.” He later wrote “The Community College,” which helped popularize the new name, per Richard L. Drury of Inquiry.

  • 1947: Veterans enroll in college en masse

    - Total enrollment: 2.3 million (71.0% male; 29.0% female)
    --- Total public enrollment: 1.2 million (49.3% of total)
    --- Total private enrollment: 1.2 million (50.7% of total)

    Almost half of college admissions went to World War II veterans in 1947. The influx of former military members at colleges and universities was a result of the new education benefits from the G.I. Bill, according to

  • 1948: Court orders Oklahoma law school to admit Black student

    - Total enrollment: 2.4 million (71.1% male; 28.9% female)
    --- Total public enrollment: 1.2 million (49.4% of total)
    --- Total private enrollment: 1.2 million (50.7% of total)

    In its 1948 decision in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the all-white University of Oklahoma School of Law must admit a Black student because the state had no other law school for Blacks. The ruling was one step forward for integration in higher education.

  • 1949: Organization sets criteria for accrediting universities

    - Total enrollment: 2.4 million (70.4% male; 29.6% female)
    --- Total public enrollment: 1.2 million (49.4% of total)
    --- Total private enrollment: 1.2 million (50.6% of total)

    The National Commission on Accreditation was founded in 1949. It was the first national body to establish criteria and acknowledge accrediting agencies for institutes of higher education.

  • 1950: Professors are subject to loyalty oaths against communism

    - Total enrollment: 2.3 million (68.4% male; 31.6% female)
    --- Total public enrollment: 1.1 million (50.0% of total)
    --- Total private enrollment: 1.1 million (50.1% of total)

    During the McCarthy years, professors at many universities across the country were required to take “loyalty oaths” swearing allegiance to the country and democracy in the early 1950s. The oaths were an effort to rid faculties of Communist Party members, according to Sarah Lawrence College.

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