I am a college professor, so I know all about how terrible higher education in the United States is in 2016.
At this moment hundreds of universities are being investigated by the federal government for mishandling sexual violence cases. When I was a graduate student, I had to listen to a professor make pedophilic comments in class. Furthermore, that same professor would talk to the students about porn in the middle of class as well. I reported the incident to university officials, but the university officials retaliated against me and I have suffered much harassment from university officials because of this incident. I know that this kind of stupidity goes on at all universities.
The price of a college degree has been rising recently, but the value of a college degree has been falling. Today we have about 1.5 trillion dollars in student loan debt. This student loan debt cannot be forgiven. You cannot declare bankruptcy on this student loan debt. If you are behind on your student loan payments, you can lose your drivers license, and you will not be able to obtain your college transcripts.
The higher cost of education these days does not fund professors, but instead it mainly funds useless programs and administrators who botch rape cases. Your tuition is paying for an $300,000+ a year salary administrator to retaliate and humiliate against a rape victim for going to the police and reporting the incident.
Students in the United States of America are generally terrible people. They do not study. They scream and throw temper tantrums in class when they do not get their way. They sexually harass people. They constantly complain. They cheat. They have no positive moral attributes. The worst part about this sorry situation is that the universities promote this kind of terrible behavior.
I have had many instances of where I have had to call the police on students in class who were throwing temper tantrums in the middle of class while I was trying to teach.
There have been several instances of where I would have liked to report a student for cheating in class. However, the administration at the college did not approve of any professor who takes any measures against academic dishonesty. This is because colleges promote cheating. A college that does not enforce academic honesty is worthless (like most colleges).
Today most colleges and universities have very low academic standards. The grades for most college courses are inflated beyond belief. College today is incredibly easy. We no longer have any standards.
The only reason why employers would rather hire college graduates than non-graduates is that employers are being scammed by institutions of higher education as well. However, some employers realize that they were wrong in considering people with college degrees (such as Google) over people without college degrees.
Instead of going to college, people need to explore different options which are much better than a four year degree.
In strictly mathematical terms, justifying the cost of a traditional 4-year college education is more difficult than ever. College costs have continued to soar for several decades now, while the forms of available financial aid seem to have diminished. Add in that the cost of living has also steadily increased during that time and it becomes even harder to justify the time and expense involved in a bachelor's degree. Unless the student is working towards a degree that will result directly in a lucrative or at least decently paying profession, such as medicine, law, or accounting, many students would be better off considering some form of trade school.
While many general college degrees, such as a degree in business, could be argued as unnecessary with the ability to take a more focused and relevant approach through independent research, many college degrees that are industry specific are not worthless because you cannot work in the industry without them. Two supporting examples are a degree in education and a degree in law. A person cannot work as a public school teacher or as an attorney without a college education in these fields.
College degrees can be extremely valuable or completely worthless depending on the degree. For example, there are very few jobs you can get with a degree in philosophy from an unknown university. That philosophy degree is not worth the money. A degree in medicine however is a great investment because it will allow you to get a high paying job that you could not have gotten otherwise.
I do not feel that getting a college degree is either a waste of time or money. That piece of paper is just a small part of the big picture. Learning is the key here! The knowledge you gain while attaining your degree is invaluable no matter how you choose to use it.