Rick Santorum has been denounced for his comments about President Barack Obama forcing youths to go to college, but he might have a point.

His claim that Obama is a snob and wants to remake you in his image is misguided, but Santorum raises some valid concerns about the overall pressure to go to college in the United States.

During his campaign tours in Michigan over the weekend, Santorum spoke of the oft-overlooked value of the working class.

Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands, Santorum said. Some people have incredible gifts and want to work out there making things.

He continued, There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor.

The former Pennsylvania senator has to put it through a conservative prism in his pursuit of the White House, but encouraging young men and women to pursue avenues other than college isn't about simply avoiding liberal professors.

Instead it is a way to possibly improve the country's slumping economy.

With 8.3 percent of the country currently unemployed and the average college graduate facing $25,250 in student loans, according to Project on Student Debt, it would be stupid to try to convince youths that college is the only way to be successful.

Obama has done his best to try to make college affordable for all -- his Pay as You Earn plan helped consolidate multiple loans for a lower interest rate -- but something that everyone must consider, as Santorum has harped on in the past, is that not everyone should be going to college, or frankly can afford to go to college.

And the most important thing about that is there is nothing wrong with not going to college. This debate often turns into a Democrat vs. Republican royal rumble, but instead people need to realize that America is currently at a difficult place and it's not fixed by simply sending more 18-year-olds to college.

I think not enough is talked about the honorable professions of the trades, said Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity. I think a lot more could be done and I think there needs to be an understanding of how America got to be a great power.

It's not because every single person went to college; it is because a lot of people went into the trades.

Conway, who worked as the chief of staff to U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in the Bush administration, knows a thing or two about unions and the trades. He says that countries like China and India - direct competitors to the United States in the global market - are seeing a competitive advantage when they look at the level of employment and the number of people that aren't getting skills on the job.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistcs reports that 68.1 percent of youths aged 16 to 24 attended colleges in 2010, which might not seem like much but is significantly more than China's 20 percent or India's 7 percent. In some ways that can be celebrated as a triumph, but also showcases internal economic issues that the United States is facing.

The United States needs to find ways to get its slumping economy back on track and it doesn't achieve that by encouraging everyone to put off their careers for four or more years of college education. This country could use more people willing to eschew psychology classes for the honorable professions of shipbuilding, manufacturing and ironworking.

Not everybody wakes up and says I want to go to college, Conway said. Not every household can afford to send people to college. Quite frankly, not everybody aspires to that.

Santorum is a bit misguided with his overall message -- making it too much about colleges versus the trades -- but he is right in that these vocations merit more respect. The United States shouldn't only highlight those that go to college, but should instead realize the valuable contributions being put forth by the trade workers and publicize that it is a worthy option for any young man or woman.