A college degree is a valuable and important means of economic and social advancement. It provides more options, for graduates and for society as a whole, since a better-educated population benefits the nation overall.
BUT the cost of a college education has outstripped the value of a degree. Attending college burdens many graduates with debt that is difficult to repay.
The best way to create a better-educated society and a more productive workforce is by bolstering the enrollment and standards of community colleges.
Skeptics who question the value of a college degree argue that because attending college has become so expensive have forced many students to take out larger loans to pay for their educations.
Jefferson advocated opening higher education to more citizens. He advocated colleges and universities that were free of religious influence or affiliation and where students could study many new fields in which courses were not offered at private universities.
Janet Riggs, president of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, noted in an op-ed piece appearing in the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News that a college degree, specifically in the liberal arts, is a valuable commodity because "many CEOs are looking for employees with the attributes that a liberal arts education instills: critical thinking, clear communication, collaboration, an appreciation for diverse points of view, the ability to approach a problem from multiple perspectives, ethical judgment and lifelong learning skills."