All students need a liberal education, whether they attend an elite liberal arts college or a community college, argues Mary Spilde, president of Lane Community College in Oregon, in Community College Times.
A liberal education teaches speaking and writing skills, critical thinking and problem solving, global awareness and the ability to understand public policy debates and be responsible citizens, Spilde writes.
A recent national employer survey commissioned by AAC&U (Association of American Colleges and Universities) found that employers believe that colleges — including community colleges — can best prepare graduates for long-term career success by helping them develop both a broad range of skills and knowledge and in-depth skills in a specific field. They are, in fact, now demanding that their employees use a much broader set of skills and have higher levels of learning and knowledge than in the past.
. . . With programs like learning communities, service learning, and cooperative education, community colleges are building ladders of opportunity that will allow students to quickly become prepared for today’s workplace while also being positioned for the lifelong learning they will need over the long haul.
Students need both practical, career and technical programs and the knowledge and intellectual skills developed by a liberal education, Spilde argues.