A degree should be for those who have an interest in scholarship or in a specialized area of study. Otherwise, many young people are getting into tons of debt with no idea of where they are going in life and would have been better off getting a practical skill. These days it's always wise to have a practical skill along with a degree anyway.
No, I do not believe that degrees are essential to success in life. There is plenty of evidence that supports the theory that you do not need a degree to be successful. For many professions, such as professions in the oil and gas industry, instead of attaining degrees it is more important to be in the right place (Marcellus Shale) at the right time.