All that has changed over the last few decades. In order to allow "everyone" the opportunity to go to college (because, as a matter of course, the number of jobs requiring a college education would expand to accommodate the supply of college grads - right?) we started this crazy student loan policy which allowed people to borrow horrendous sums of money to go to college - often without any realistic plan on paying it back.
These kids are pissed. They assumed they would be entitled to a high-paying job as the result of having this credential. But not all credentials are created equal, and skills trump credentials every time. In my own life, this was particularly true.
When I got my job at Carrier, they told me I had to have an Associates degree - but they still gave me the job. A few night courses and the work I had from GMI qualified me for an AAS degree from SUNY. Get the job first, get the degree second.
When I was at the Patent Office, they paid me to go to night school - and later a law firm did the same. I was doing the work of an Associate (at a Law Clerk's pay) and going to school at night to get the degree to qualify me for the job I already had.
Find the job first, then get the degree. Just getting any old degree and hoping a job comes along that requires that credential is sort of foolish. First of all, there may be no such job in the world. Second, there may be a lot of competition for that job (ask anyone who majored in a classical instrument). Third, the pay for that job might not justify the expense of the degree (again, ask any classical musician). Fourth, you may have to wait a long time for that particular job to materialize - maybe your whole life.
But of course, what happens to most people is that they get a college degree, scrounge around looking for a job in their "field" and settle for a job that pays the bills. And then they acquire skills in this new field, or go back for a graduate degree to get the credential to advance in the job they have. Very few people have this "story arc" in life where they graduate with a degree and find a job in that field right away, and then slowly advance up the ladder until they retire. For most of us, it is a messy affair, where we change directions several times.
Sadly, college doesn't sell that narrative. In fact, guidance counselors and job placement centers often give the worst career advice. Think about it - these are folks who likely looked for a job once in their life and found it. They give advice to departing students and then never see them again. It is like shooting an arrow in the air, where it lands, I know not where...
But to say any of this is to be shouted down today. "You're against college!" they cry - no doubt a comment from a college troll. "Not everyone should go to trade school!" they say, as if that was what you were advocating or that learning a trade was the only alternative or that it was a bad thing.
"College grads make more than those who didn't go to college!" they cry - not realizing that backwards-looking statistics are not really useful. What worked for their parents' generation might not work for this one. Not only that, statistics are misleading. Yea, a doctor or lawyer or investment banker might make millions. But this skews the average. The guy who ends up working in the donut shop brings down the average a bit, but still the average is above norm.
"College should be free!" some claim, or that student loan debts "forgiven". They do this overseas - have the government pay for college (and healthcare as well). The problem is, since everyone goes to college, not everyone gets a worthwhile degree. College ends up being a place to "park" people for four years and keep them out of the workforce. And maybe that is the idea, right there. Since we need fewer workers in this age of automation, why not send everyone to college for a decade or more?
Hell, it was the best 14 years of my life.