Andrew Delbanco, our second author, is much less sanguine about the idea that there ever really was a golden age of higher education in the United States, a least one that brought in more than a tiny fraction of the potential population and in which "all" students and professors did what they were "supposed" to do. His comments are delightfully drawn from past examples of students who were (then as, perhaps now) more interested in drinking and carousing than in "cracking the books." What he worries about (and I would share this) is that colleges, particularly those with the greatest resources, fail to "fulfill their obligations" to either offer students a "coherent view of the point of a college education" or any help in thinking about their (the students) purpose in life.
I agree, but (as with my concern with Deresiewicz), was that ever a task taken to heart by colleges and universities? What do you think?