College is now presented to students as the only way not to fail at life. I think by encouraging everyone to go to college no matter what their circumstances or ambitions are diminishes the value of it. Students are not informed of the alternative, and good students are treated as though they don't even need to be told about it because they are going by default. College teaches you to get a job, it does not teach you how to create, innovate, or even start your own business. (People will argue that there's business majors, but you can't teach people to get great ideas.) So, by pushing students through the college doors, we are limiting ourselves from generations of innovators and creators. There's also art school, but again, you can't teach creativity. They are just creating broke artists that will have to get a more conventional job to pay off the loans that were supposed to be used to help them create, not hinder them. Schools, parents, etc. need to focus on sending kids to college that will actually benefit from it, and even then, they should know if there are alternatives and what those are. And for those who say college is for learning, not to guarantee a job, there are other ways of learning that don't cost thousands of dollars. Same for creating contacts with people who can get their foot in the door. For some, yes this is true, but for some with more ambition, they can use those $40,000 to go outside of their home town and find those people in the environment they will eventually spend the majority of their life in. For example, someone who wants to start a business can either find successful local business owners, or contact a silicon valley business owner and have lunch with them, asking them questions and for opinions. There are so many alternatives to college that treating it as though it is the only option for 18-24 year-olds is frankly ridiculous.
Yes, the importance of a college degree is overrated, because a person's ambition is far more important. College students are a self-selecting group. People who go to college are more likely to be motivated in the first place. These people would likely do equally well worked right after high school, because they have motivation to succeed.
Employers are given the perk of being able to be ridiculously picky right now and having a college degree does not automatically need to work, but it's a lot less likely without one.There's still an amount of risk involved when investing in getting one, but the fact remains that there are a lot of jobs you simply will not be considered for without a college degree on your resume.