"Although formal “higher education” is obviously necessary for people who wish to become doctors, nurses, engineers, architects, etc., some rebellious souls might question whether ALL young people should be pushed into universities. Some crazed anarchists are beginning to suggest that this situation could be brought under control if we stopped positioning four year colleges as the ideal for all kids. These troublemakers claim that purchasing a six figure education on a credit card might not be in the best interest of those who haven’t a clue as to which job path they will ultimately pursue. These barbarians run around insisting that you should try to figure out what you want to do with your life, and then only invest a considerable amount of time and money into a four year college if it will actually be necessary to attain your goals. These psychopaths even go so far as to claim that, often times, skill and experience are more important than a piece of paper from an expensive college!...
I am uneducated and uninformed. Such is the fate of anyone who does not attend an educational facility. Sure, I can go to bookstores and libraries and read books on many different subjects. Yeah, the internet, if utilized properly, can be a magnificent portal to an infinite expanse of information; but none of these things qualify as an “education.” I merely research topics and explore ideas because I want to know more about them. My motivations can not match the purity and fruitfulness of someone who learns what they’re told to learn in order to pass a test....
Education is something that happens in buildings specifically designed for that purpose. Then, after a few years, you walk across a stage and — POOF! — you’re educated. You’re done. Education complete. You are officially an educated person. You completed all the steps, followed the path, solved all the puzzles, made it to the final boss and killed him, and now you’ve beaten the game. Time to kick back and take it easy!"
I have a handful of successful (and happy) friends and acquaintances who never did college; I know a few more who did college, but not as job training. I've also known more than a few miserable college students (and this is before they get out of college with the $30k debt and the poor job prospects). I've even been a miserable college student, at times, though my particular suffering and frustration is at least in pursuit of a particular life goal. Here's the thing, too: I actually do really like what I'm doing in grad school (I just hate the long hours and the low pay and the expectation that the rest of my life should be placed on hold). And it really could be preparing me for more than a few jobs that I'd like (though I also notice that there are quite a few--a majority, even--that I really am not interested in, and the ones I most like are the ones off the beaten path).
I would also like to note, however, that I have met quite a few grad students (and many, many more undergrads) who don't seem to like what they are studying, who don't seem to like the whole "educational" experience. In some cases, I can't blame them, because going to a university does not guarantee that you'll become educated, and for many it really is an impediment. Frankly, when every other class is there to propagandize for one or another ideology--scientism, utilitarianism, marxism, feminism, gay liberationism, nihilism--and when a large segment of the student population spends its out-of-class time engaged in hedonism, gaining a real education is difficult, to say the least. The very culture is at times antithetical not only to intellectual learning, but disciplining the will, curbing the appetites, and developing the virtues, all of which should form a part of a complete education.
My observation, after more than a decade of being enrolled in universities (between an undergrad degree and then a PhD) is that most of the students seem to hate it. Many students are simply miserable, and many don't really even want an education (to say nothing about the training and propaganda which is often passed off as education). I would go so far to say that the majority of my students could not care less about the material that I'm teaching (physics), and that they further resent the way in which I try to teach it (lots of labs with an emphasis on problem solving and figuring things out for yourself). They resent working for anything. I get complaints about homework assignments ("I spent a whole three hours on the last one" which covered two weeks' worth of material), which results in a lowered bar for the handful of people who are willing to put forth some intellectual effort.
They all just want to get the piece of paper which certifies them as degree-holders, and then get out, preferably with as little time spent learning (or, to be fair, spent working at learning) as possible; some then go to "professional" schools (MBA or Law Degree, with the students I have), some of which really do involve the use of an education. And they hate every minute of it. They endure it when they must and attempt to get it to go away when they can, because parents and high-school counselors and later college peers all tell them that they need that college degree. And when they find that there is no employment for that gender studies degree (thankfully), that they need to get more training.
There's nothing wrong with getting a degree that you won't (likely) use for employment: philosophy, history, classics, etc. If that's how you learn best, and if you really do want to learn about that kind of thing, then by all means! Though I'd say pick a smaller school than the various State Behemoth Colleges, and preferably one which takes these things seriously enough to teach them well but lightly enough to realize that they are guarantees of employment. And it's really won't kill you to wait to study these until you've tried getting a careers, whether as an electrician or a beautician or a welder or a brew-master or a salesman.
But, for the love of God (or whatever idol you hold instead), if you are just going to college because that's what everyone else is doing, don't! You will end up as unhappy as they are. And if it's to get a good job, then study something like engineering or science, which are difficult but which lead to most of the "good" jobs anymore; and if you don't like those fields which have the "good" jobs, then figure out what you do like, and only then go to college if it's necessary to pursue that career.