United States has long been a stepchild of American and education studies alike. For half a century, between 1945/47 and 1989, anything positive about the US hovered in the gray zone between “banned” and “tolerated” in communist Hungary. Therefore, our image of American tertiary education relies too heavily on its media representations, which is a clearly distorted mirror. In this paper a short look at the current numbers is followed by a historical overview of the evolution of higher education since the colonial period, a cursory look at how Hungarians saw these developments until 1945, and a review of the current debates. It concludes with a personal take on both higher education and its role in the current presidential election campaign by the author.