Higher Education in America: A Foundational Course


Higher Education in America: A Foundational Course

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the structure and landscape of American higher education.

American higher education includes over 4000 institutions of varying size, structure, and focus, with each serving an increasingly diverse and dwindling number of traditionally college-aged students. But there are still some commonalities in how institutions are governed, financed, organized, and assessed—not to mention the fact that institutions face similar enrollment and retention challenges across the board.

This course is designed to give you a broad overview of the American higher education landscape. Our expert instructor, Dr. Kelly Wesener Michael, will walk you through the different types of institutions that exist, how these institutions are typically funded, who is involved in governing both public and private universities, and how institutions set and assess the effectiveness of their mission and goals. Accompanying the course is a workbook designed to help you gain familiarity with the processes and mission of your own institution—how governance works for you, what the demographics of your student body are, where your funding comes from, and how your institution does strategic planning. This course will be highly beneficial to anyone who is new to higher education, either in a first professional role or who is transitioning to higher education from another industry. Additionally, faculty or staff whose experience in higher ed has been narrowly focused will gain knowledge of the overall landscape of American higher ed and how their institution fits into that.

The following lessons are included with this course.

Course Highlights

  • 57 m of video
  • 14 short videos
  • 1 accompanying workbook
  • Valued at $495. Free for members.

96% of Participants Are Satisfied With Our Video Courses

“This was a wonderful, innovative experience. Great ideas and resources were shared by participants and presenters. High energy and an overall wonderful learning experience."

- Marisol Marrero

Executive Director of StudentLink Centers, New York University

“I was so impressed with Academic Impressions that I cannot wait to recommend these trainings to colleagues and bring Academic Impressions to my institution!”

- Kristin Miller

Director of Advancement, College of Visual and Performing Arts, NIU Foundation

“The variety of expertise allowed me to bring skills back to my shop and overall improve our tool-kits.”

- Garrett Aanestad

Chapman Fund Manager, Chapman University


Portrait of Kelly Wesener Michael

Kelly Wesener Michael

Practitioner-Scholar in Residence, Northern Illinois University


Until joining the Northern Illinois University's Higher Education and Student Affairs program faculty in summer 2020, Kelly was the chief student affairs officer at Northern Illinois University. She began her career as a housing professional and stepped into senior level administration at Northern Illinois University in 2009 as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Over the years as a senior administrator, her portfolio has included a wide variety of student services and auxiliaries.

Kelly was promoted into the chief student affairs officer role at NIU in January 2017. In that role, she provided visionary leadership as NIU undertook an organizational restructuring of the Division of Student Affairs, as well as of other large-scale initiatives, including: a multi-million dollar renovation of the student union, establishing a relevant and progressive vision for Fraternity and Sorority Life, re-visioning campus community standards, and developing robust auxiliary operations. These included implementation of a campus dining strategy, e-sports facilities and housing master plan, meeting the increasing need for student support services implementing the “one stop shop” model, and understanding the role of advocacy within a social justice framework. She, along with the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, led the Student Experience Team, which strives to provide comprehensive services and engagement opportunities that support to student success.

Kelly consistently participated in professional organizations on the national level, most recently serving on the Executive Team for the APLU's Council on Student Affairs.

Kelly’s academic credentials include: a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Indiana University, a Masters of Science in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

Become A Member

Membership Includes All Content and Much More

Paper airplanes



Business presentation

Women in Leadership


Whiteboard presentation

Academic Leadership


Faculty meeting

Faculty Success


Laptop calendar

Institutional & Academic Planning


Graduation day

Student Success


Empty classroom

Enrollment Management & Marketing


Stacking blocks



Chalk dust

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion



Title IX Compliance


How Membership Works



Buy membership based on desired number of users  



Invite users to your membership



Engage with upcoming and on-demand online trainings 

Learn more about membership benefits, included content, and pricing.

Questions about membership?

portrait of Meg Paladino

Meghan Paladino
Membership Advisor, Academic Impressions