What the author is really deploring is the college-bank-government-complex ... he's not against young folks acquiring knowledge, skills, experience and maybe even a bit of wisdom.
For so many consumers of higher education, it has become less a means of imparting capability, proficiency and ability in any given field, and more, as Quillen puts it that "[colleges] function as America's gatekeepers: If you want to get anywhere in this country, generally you've got to get through college."
Quillen has got it right, in my estimation. Here are a couple of choice excerpts -- then read the entire essay.
... From what I can tell, the more money you make available for kids to go to college, the more that colleges will charge. That is, if it costs $5,000 per semester and the feds come up with $4,000 in loans and grants, it doesn't mean the student will need to pay only $1,000 per semester. It generally means the college will jack up its costs to $9,000 per semester.
The more money you throw at colleges, the more they take. To put it another way, median household income rose by 147 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation. College costs went up by 439 percent. ...
... if you wanted to become a lawyer the way that Abraham Lincoln became a lawyer, you'd clerk for an attorney and read law, then perhaps take the bar exam, no college required.
The same could hold for other professions like engineering and medicine. With demand thus reduced, college prices should plummet. But people who wanted to study medieval French literature could still pursue degrees at schools populated by scholars seeking knowledge. ...