The Value of a College Education

November 20, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 41
Is a four-year degree the only path to a secure future?
By Thomas J. Billitteri


Students can earn career-readiness certificates in six months (Central Piedmont Community College)
A student learns welding at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C. Students in the fast-track program can earn career-readiness certificates in six months or less. (Central Piedmont Community College)

President Obama's $12 billion American Graduation Initiative — announced in July — aims to help millions more Americans earn degrees and certificates from community colleges. The president wants the United States to have, once again, the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Along with the administration, economists and many students and parents embrace the notion that higher education offers the most promising ticket to financial security and upward mobility. However, some argue that many young people are ill-prepared or unmotivated to get a four-year degree and should pursue apprenticeships or job-related technical training instead. The debate is casting a spotlight on trends in high-school career and technical education — long known as vocational education — and raising questions about the ability of the nation's 1,200 community colleges to meet exploding enrollment demand.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education and Funding
Aug. 31, 2018  Education Funding
Jun. 27, 2016  Student Debt
Dec. 06, 2013  Humanities Education
Apr. 19, 2013  Law Schools
Nov. 20, 2009  The Value of a College Education
Dec. 10, 1999  Reforming School Funding
Aug. 27, 1993  School Funding
Dec. 24, 1948  Federal Aid to Education
May 05, 1948  Financial Support for Higher Education
Sep. 03, 1937  Federal Grants for Education
Aug. 20, 1934  Federal Aid to Education
Vocational and Adult Education