The liberal arts are getting a bad rap these days.  Rising tuition costs coupled with the uncertainty that a bachelors degree will lead to a good job are causing many to ask whether the investment is worth it.

I teach at a public university and therefore benefit from the “college for all” movement that has swept the nation in recent years.  Yet, I am among those who are increasingly skeptical about whether so many young people should be encouraged to go to college.

Much more needs to be done to promote job training to help those for whom pursuing a four-year degree just isn’t a sensible path to take, as Joe Nocera’s op-ed in last week’s New York Times persuasively pointed out.  Since so many of these kids come from lower-income families, such training must be made affordable.

This is why the work of Venture Scholars is so vital.  This Portland nonprofit enables young people to access good jobs in Oregon and elsewhere.  It awards scholarships of up to $4,000 to high school seniors who are motivated to attain post-secondary training but are interested in acquiring technical training rather than a four-year liberal arts degree.  They may use the scholarship to attend either a community college or training institute, with the goal of entering the workforce upon graduation.


In the near future about half of all openings will be for positions that require specialized post-secondary training but not a four-year college degree: jobs such as dental hygienists, construction managers, electricians, health technologists, paralegals, and nurses.  These positions are actually expected to grow faster than the subset of the U.S. population that is currently qualified to fill them.

Venture Scholars is playing a key role in mitigating this skills gap.  Hear testimonials of how it is preparing young people for good jobs.

This organization is supported by Social Venture Partners Portland.  Learn how you can become a partner.