College education was one of the prevailing themes in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He emphasized that more individuals with post-secondary degrees will allow the U.S. to compete in a global market.
Obama said that more companies are requiring more than just a high school education, adding that nearly half of all new jobs over the next 10 years will be designed for candidates who have taken college classes. However, the U.S. currently is ninth in the world in the proportion of young people who have a college degree.
The nation's commander-in-chief said that the ability to earn college credits should be within reach for every American, and his administration has made efforts to reduce education costs for students. For example, Congress passed a bill last March that redirected taxpayer subsidies which previously went to banks to higher education assistance programs. These funds increase the grant amounts that are offered by the federal government.
Furthermore, Obama urged lawmakers to make the college tuition tax credit permanent, which would allow students and their families to save money on education costs. The provision, which expired at the end of 2010, provided a credit of up to $2,500 per student per year.
"If we take these steps if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until the last job they take we will reach the goal that I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world," Obama said, quoted by NPR.
The President also reiterated his efforts to revitalize community colleges in America.
Aside from young adults, these two-year programs appeal to working professionals who wish to return to the classroom and pursue another career.
Obama offered a suggestion to individuals who are unsure about their career paths: consider becoming a teacher. He said that America will face a teacher shortage over the next decade because of the retiring baby boomers. Filling these positions will be critical to the nation's prosperity, he said, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
The President claimed that the U.S. is "home to the world's best colleges and universities," and they attract thousands of foreign students who are seeking a distance education. He said that while certain immigration laws can help protect the nation's borders, talented and responsible individuals should not be deported simply because they were not born in America or because their parents are illegal immigrants.