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Foundations of Higher Education

E D U  6 2 0 4

F A L L  2 0 2 1


Offers students an opportunity to obtain a foundation to understand the structure, governance, and operations of institutions of higher education in the United States. Students examine peer-reviewed articles, study the rules and methods through which scholarly works are developed, and begin to apply research findings to real problems and issues in higher education. Through critical evaluation, interpretation, and uses of published research, assesses higher education’s complex organizational structure. Examines how these constructs are subject to today’s environmental, financial, technological, and competitive pressures; considers how higher education may implement innovation; and analyzes strategies for adaption. Offers students an opportunity to learn to use an ePortfolio to document their development as scholar-practitioners.


Throughout this foundational course, I have often found myself wondering “how did I get here?” Working at Northeastern, I didn’t intend to jump into a master’s program having worked less than two years; the pandemic changed everything. Suddenly, like many people, I was looking for enrichment in my life. 

Having been out of academia for just about five years, this course required a complete reset of my thinking. I struggled in the first few discussion posts, either writing too much or not enough, using too few or too many sources. I also had difficulty with citations in the APA 7th style. In-text citations were easy (because they are simply a name and a year) but my reference list seems to be formatted differently each time. Additionally, identifying relevant or qualified sources is also a pain point for me. For my article critique, my first draft did not fit the assignment parameters so I had to find, read, and effectively evaluate a completely new source in less than a week instead of taking feedback on a draft and simply polishing it. 


As a result of working through these challenges, I have rediscovered what it means to write a good paper (and even then, I’m sure there is room for improvement). I also find myself overjoyed to return to a classroom, as I have always loved learning. I have enjoyed the environment this class reintroduced to me, and I am grateful to my classmates for their hard work this term, both on assignments and in creating a community. I also found that my interest in knowledge and learning seeped into my life beyond the classroom: I often find myself speaking more intelligently in conversations and engaging in much more active listening. 

While I have made improvements throughout this course, I need to continue to grow and develop, something that is a learning outcome of the HEA program: “Identify and utilize opportunities to continuously improve knowledge and skills.” My work on my signature project also allowed me to engage with another outcome, to “analyze problems in higher education and recommend innovative solutions grounded in historical awareness, applied theory and driven by data.”

All in all, this class has informed my sense of purpose. While it was general in its structure and information, the ability to choose a specific area of interest for a large project allowed me to think critically about things that interest me. My signature assignment was on the cost of higher education. My current work involves the handling of scholarships for students who qualify as having a high financial need (though it is not the majority of my job). However, working on this project has shown to me that I want nothing to do with finances in education. Instead, this course has made me want to investigate more about diversity and student support on campuses.


I am happy I took this course; it was a good reintroduction to academics. On the other hand, I am happy this course is complete; now I get to learn more and explore the other offerings in the program. I am grateful to continue my education.

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