What is Higher Education?

Often in life, we hear a term and barely understand what it means. We know it is important in some capacity, but we do not understand why. Higher Education is one of those terms. It’s a term that is used daily on a college campus and often around students looking at going to college.

But what is Higher Education? Well, in this blog, I will seek to define and interpret terms for you to better understand. I am by no means an expert, but I am someone who is immersed in the culture of Higher Education and loving every second of it! Higher Education is the overarching term all of these terms fit into. I am currently working on my Senior Honors Thesis at Kent State University. Part of my research centers around student perspectives of university administration. As I continue to dive into the world of student engagement, perspectives and perceptions on a college campus, I thought I’d begin to share some of the terms we so commonly use and provide a perspective and definition. If you’re interested in hearing about additional research in higher education that inspired my topic, Dr. Anne Marie Klotz has a phenomenal video on her research on female university presidents.



So, what does the term mean? 

Higher Education is an umbrella term that includes different components of life and experience on a college campus. From the classroom to the orientation program, Higher Education is a blanket term for a big and confusing concept. This concept is something that people who are part of the organization feel is simple and easy to understand. While those who are not familiar, often wonder what is going on.

You might be thinking, what does this have to do with anything? Well, it is important to understand some of the different areas of higher education, as a student or professional. Higher Education is a term that covers all elements of continuing past high school in your academic career. There is a differences between a college and a university, but Higher Education is a term that both fall under. For example, a college only offers a majority of Bachelor Degrees. A University offers students degrees that are Bachelor Degrees, Master’s Degrees and Doctoral Degrees. There are other classifications of institutions of higher education, which basically means places where people go to school past high school. The Chronicle of Higher Education, is a publication that offers resources and information about different Higher Education institutions. Or, if you’re more interested in the scholarly research, the Journal of Higher Education is also full of information.


Am I Part of Higher Education?

It depends, are you in school? Do you take classes past high school? Are you at an accredited institution? If the answer to any of these is yes, then you are part of Higher Ed. And even if the answer is not, that is okay. There is more to Higher Education than going to class. There are professionals who work in Higher Education, in all different kinds of roles. These roles can range from overseeing conduct protocols for the university to working in the dining department. While it may not be important for you to understand the different roles and how they fit into the puzzle of an institution of Higher Education, it is important to note that the work others are doing is vital to the success of a school. It is more than the classes and the people you see walking across campus. And, as the blog continues, we will talk about the different parts of higher education, the hierarchy and the roles of professionals.

It is very common in Higher Ed, as it is also called, to use acronyms and expressions without defining them. People may rattle them off and you are left sitting there confused. While, stay confused no longer! On this blog, my goal is to make the giant world of Higher Education simple and easy to understand. Let me know if you have feedback or insight below in the comments. I appreciate it!



  • Higher Education is an optional post-high school experience where there are different levels of formal learning
  • Higher Education is more than going to class
  • Higher Education is an encompassing term that has many other terms related to it
  • An institution of Higher Education is where all the classes and activities take place. Such as a college campus.
  • If you’re voluntarily earning a degree or certification from an accredited institution like a university, you’re involved with Higher Education.



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