Low-end jobs are inherently in greater demand than jobs that require higher education. I do not need a degree to become a truck driver; I find this notion to be absurd.
If everyone goes to college, then universities employ more educators, decreasing the efficiency of the institution and necessitating
a) decreased overall teacher pay, which consistently leads to strikes, protests, and employees quitting, which would cause the plan to fail
b) increased attendance cost, which would disqualify practically all low-income non-scholarship prospective students, and cause the plan to fail
or c) increased government funding for schools by either cutting other areas of the budget or raising taxes for citizens such as college students/alumni/faculty (thus adding to the debt factor for the former two groups, leading to situations a and b (albeit to a lesser extent), and contributing to general economic recession), both of which would cause the system to fail due to political unrest (among other factors).
Even if all of this worked somehow, the reality that most jobs do not require an education will still be present, so it would be wasteful for the majority who fill these jobs.
I'm sure this last part pisses many people off, because their education has value in and of itself. Except that it doesn't necessarily, because half of the people dealt with in this argument were too busy partying to get much out of school, were struggling to pass their tests due to unremarkable ability, or never learned the difference between inane memorization and real understanding.
College in its current form is meant for the most ambitious, intelligent, and competent, but not for the majority of people, lest you want thousands of 20-somes in debt.
Note, though, that free programs such as MIT OpenCourseWare are increasing in popularity. At some point in the next couple of decades, I guarantee that people will be able to pay relatively small sums to take exams for degrees without formal enrollment in a class. When this change occurs, everyone who wants an education should feel free to get one without consequence.
I get the sense that the person posing the question was looking for the easy answer. Of course it isn't just for the elite, if by elite you mean the upper rich. But if by elite you follow one standard definition, namely "a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities" then the answer is yes. I don't know if it is 10% or 20% or 40%, but there is a subgroup of people who will truly prosper in a college environment. I feel badly for those who would thrive in a vocational school or simply from diving into work experience, but who instead feel they have to head off to take college courses. Those with more academic ability will do fine, whatever they do. But our efforts -- and finances -- should go to those who need a leg up through apprenticeships, vocational training and general work experience. They may waste their time and money in a university. Or they may go to work -- only to pay higher taxes to enable the more academically gifted to get a subsidy. What sense does that make?
Higher education was never intended for the masses. Only those few people who can really take advantage of years of extra schooling should be given higher education. Many universities will willingly grant advanced degrees, but the graduates are not able to find appropriate work after they have graduated and they end up wasting their time.
Everyone who desires a higher education should be able to receive it. In a free society, everyone should have equal rights to obtain education. In reality, anyone who makes a reasonable effort can attend college and beyond. Not everyone will get into the best schools, but college is accessible to almost everyone.
Higher education should not be intended solely for the intellectual elite. The opportunity to attend a college or a university should not be limited to one social group. Everybody that wants to go on to college for their education should be allowed to do so. Right now, with the rising costs of the universities and colleges are prohibiting many of the applicants from applying.
People have come to regard college as a training school for jobs, although it hardly ever adequately fulfills that role. It is better if it were to be considered as a hotbed of ideas and thinking so that only those who were intellectual would spend the time and money at university.
Higher education is intended for everyone that has a desire to pursue a higher education. It was never intended for only a select few gifted intellectual elite people. It should be made accessible to all of the people that want to pursue a higher education then what they have. The elite can attend an elite school.