With the ever-increasing cost of a four-year degree, many students and their families are questioning whether a college degree is worth the investment. A four-year degree can cost more than $200,000 depending upon which school a student selects. Student loan debt has reached staggering proportions, and for the first time, it is greater than credit card debt. Today in most instances, salaries for new graduates are not keeping pace with their student loan debt, which makes it hard to repay the debt under some circumstances. All of this sounds very bleak. In my opinion, however, a college degree is still worth the investment.

For women and people of color, in order to be competitive, a college degree is critical. It is a lifeline. Unfortunately, women and people of color still lag behind white males in terms of employment opportunities and earning power. The glass ceiling may have cracks in it, but it has not been broken yet. As a friend of mine often says, “There are slippery walls and floors too.”

Studies show that over a lifetime those with college degrees earn more money and have greater opportunities for employment and opportunities for advancement than those with only a high school diploma (not to mention that there is a certain level of prestige that comes with holding a college degree). In my opinion, therefore, it is not an option, but a necessity. The more education one has, the more power he or she has, and knowledge is power. Why were women and people of color limited in their ability to receive education or to learn to read? Because if people do not have knowledge, it is easier to subject them to oppression. This quote by Robin Morgan sums it up nicely: “Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.” As a result, women and people of lower socioeconomic levels in certain countries today are still denied the access to education.

Although college is expensive, there are many options out there. If an Ivy League school gives you a full scholarship, I say go for it. If not, then there are many great local community colleges and state universities out there that offer a quality education at an affordable price. If you placed college on hold and entered the workforce instead and you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that offers tuition assistance, definitely take advantage of it. In the long run, it will be worth the investment. He or she who has the knowledge has the power!