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Obviously the overwhelming difference between university studies of old and today is the fact that women can now participate in the educational process. A modern education is accessible to virtually anyone today, even if it's at the community college level. Another difference is the overriding purpose of a university education. Early on, both in Europe and in America, university was designed as a place to train in philosophy and religion. Later, the sciences were added to the curriculum, and today nearly anything goes.
I think that one primary difference was that there is a great diversity of course selection today than there was in the original European Universities. University course selection is much more diverse and eclectic with what is offered and how one can proceed in a course of study that the original universities. Another difference is that more people attend and are encouraged to attend university than those who originally attended. I do think that a similarity lies in the fact that many universities have a feeling of community and "closed culture" that only those who attend can fully grasp and understand. These experiences are present today as they were before. I would also say that the cost of attending college is quite prohibitive for many, making it as expensive as it was in the European times, when only the rich could attend. Granted, more people go today and more opportunities exist for people to go. However, the straight concept of cost is something that is similar in both settings.
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