Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."
I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!
Even worse, most of those college dropouts leave the campus having learned little of value, and with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles. Perhaps worst of all, even those who do manage to graduate too rarely end up in careers that require a college education. So it's not surprising that when you hop into a cab or walk into a restaurant, you're likely to meet workers who spent years and their family's life savings on college, only to end up with a job they could have done as a high-school dropout.
All I could do while reading this one was nod my head while trying to hold back profanity in the interest of finishing the piece before screaming. The author hit this one right on the damn head and I can say that as a person who fell into the same trap he outlines; I believed that a college degree gave me a shot at a field I had a passion to be a part of: IT. The reality of things as I later came to find out was that I would never be able to be employed in IT because a glaring Catch 22 that haunts me to this day. Experience - It is required for pretty much every single IT job on the face of the planet, even the lowest and crappiest jobs ever. Being a cable monkey even requires two to four years of prior experience so somewhere along the line you have to catch a break in order to even become a part of the field and earn that experience. The only places I haven't seen such requirements is in data entry, which despite what you might think is NOT a suitable experience earning position for breaking into real IT work because it only shows that you can type really really fast and nothing more.
It wasn't just the college that played a part in such things, it is everyone from my parents to my friends, the TV, and every media outlet you can ever imagine. They talk about how college is rewarding, how it teaches you valuable job skills, gives you a chance to meet new people, blah blah fucking blah. After seeing how the real world works I can safely say that the smartest thing to do if you do end up going to college is to rub elbows with anybody with stature above your own, because that is where the power of college is going to be. If you can make enough connections while you are there then chances are you can worm into a decent job once you are out, and then begin the long task of paying back your loans which threaten you with financial ruin should the economy tank and you lose that hard-sucked-for job.
It takes both my hands and quite a few toes to count the people I know who have college degrees and don't have jobs in the field they went to school for. Most are in the polar opposite direction actually and they tend to be twice my age yet still got swindled just the same by some recruiter promising fame and riches if they would just sign a few papers, pick a random degree and accept debt that will haunt them for decades. In hindsight I wish I would have came around to reality sooner so I could have avoided wasting three years of my life on a degree that I can no longer complete because it is being phased out by my school; I could have been securing promotions in factory somewhere or perfecting my burger flipping technique while eying up the real prize of being a fast food manager.
Once upon a time I used to try to convince people to go to 4 year schools as I thought they were more sensible choices than bottom-teir community colleges, but armed with my revised opinion I think its time to just tell people the complete truth - college is a waste for all but the very smallest portion of the population. So for those reading this who are either facing the decision themselves or know someone who is please for the love of god don't let them make the same fucked up mistakes that so many have and assume a lifelong debt because they thought it would make their situation somehow better to spend 4 years on a piece of paper that really doesn't mean anything at all.
 - Credit Crisis Hits Student Borrowers - http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2008/04/17/credit_crisis_hits_student_borrowers?mode=PF