We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Do you agree with that? Many people today are going to things called colleges like junior colleges and trade school colleges to learn careers in things such as nursing, practical electric, cooking, hospitality, criminal justice, emergency medical service, and all sorts of other practical fields.
Those other things that you describe - which all seem to have a vocational bent to them - aren't "college" to me. They are the natural and better replacements for what "college" has become.
Too many people are spending too much time and money on becoming proper 1600's-Europe ladies and gentlemen. The most common excuse - that "college teaches you how to think" - was maybe valid back when you could do four years for $20k. Now, at $200k, you can just buy a couple of ladies and gentlemen to help you think and have money left over.
The only programs I can see from here that still have some value and validity to them are those program in STEM fields. A degree in Afro/American studies, or a degree in women's philosophy, etc., etc. does no one any good. A class or two studying these subject s would be fine filler courses for liberal arts degree, but to spent two years only working on these subjects will a student with neither the grace acquired from studying the complete scope of philosophy, nor the insight that came from analyzing the great classics in literature. The behavior encouraged and supported on campus sure as heck does not make the student a more pleasant contemporary in the work force.
The problem is not with the kids and their parents, but with the colleges and universities. Professors are overpaid, adjuncts are underpaid, too many useless classes, too much indoctrination. There should not be classes with the label "studies". But then professors are complaining that the students they get don't know anything and are unprepared for college work. Too much college money is going to frills like climbing walls, landscaping. Somehow the basic purpose of a university gets lost. Western Civ has been dropped for more trendy nonsense. You can see the results in today's young 'journalists' who don't appear to know any history, economics, or that Western Civilization that they dropped.
The Elephant's Child
You can get a degree in Afro/American studies by watching the local news.
Depends. If the goal is to waste some of the most productive years of the young and to enslave them in eternal debt, then no, to many aren't going to college.
Let's face it, many colleges, especially the "elite" ones these days do not permit open discussion of, most intellectual topics. They do not impose rigor of thought or even permit real study, which involves brooding, mulling and asking difficult questions. The modern campus no longer brings together students with a common intellectual challenge and no distractions.
Those going to your, apparently disdained, junior colleges and trade schools are at least learning to do something of value for others, unlike those matriculating at most of the "real" colleges. Perhaps the latter will be able to leverage the illusion of being educated into an opportunity that they can then develop via the employable abilities to had before freshman orientation.
The mindset came from the old days it seemed that college educated people were more financially successful (possibly reversing the cause and effect: that the brightest and most ambitious were the ones going to college).
In any case, the magical solution was have everyone go to college so everyone will make good money. The problem is, there are only so many jobs that require advanced education, but this mindset has raised to bar for everyone -- and it's especially hard for people from low income backgrounds, putting off employment for 4 more years is a big burden on their family.