I don't know how different things are in the US, but you don't have to go to college/university to be good at a job - I know the Labour government tried to push people through University, but the most important thing for ANY individual is to find a job you'll enjoy and will pay the bills well enough for you to be happy. In my family (of 3 kids), 2 of us went to University (me and my sister) and one of us didn't (my brother). The problem with Labour's 50% target was that it meant there were more graduates looking for work and therefore more competition, meaning having a degree weighed less.
When my sister finished University, could she get a well paid job? Nope. Woolworths (shop assistant), Cleaning, Working at a Bakery, Julian Graves (shop assistant) and after so many years having graduated, Care Worker, which didn't require a degree, but a vocational qualification they taught on the job. A job she now hates, but is sticking with to save up money to go on her tattooing course so she can be certified to tattoo people. She doesn't regret going to University, but it hasn't exactly done what degrees are marketed to do.
When I finished University, I graduated in one of the country's worst economic crisis, with high youth unemployment and high graduate unemployment and seemingly not a lot of growth. Since finishing, I've done the odd bit of temp work. Not really the kind of 'prospective futrue' and 'opening doors' I was promised. Do I regret going to University? No, because I think it offered some great lessons, confidence and I made some great friends who'll I'll hopefully have for life.
What about my brother? He went to college (not the same as a college in the US, thought it might be closer to a community college in the US) and he studied programming, he got bored and dropped out. He found that he enjoyed cooking, so he did a couple of courses and got a job as a chef, no where impressive, just a bog standard family restaurant, where most of the food is just grilled or stuck in the microwave. But he worked his way through restaurants and just worked hard and found he was good at what he did. Now he's settled in working in a restaurant with a great reputation, he is second in command and as the head chef is part time, he does find himself running the kitchen. Okay, he's not exactly Gordon Ramsey, but he's done well for himself and he's still in his 20s, so it's not as if he can't continue to progress in his career.
Out of the 3 kids in my family. You could say my brother is currently the most successful. So much for that University education, eh?
So generally I take the attitude that your level of education does matter, it's all about what you want to do with your life and what you can do to make it happen. Greatness isn't achieved by your grades, it's achieved by doing. If the industry you want to go into requires higher education, go for higher education. But higher education isn't the ultimate goal for living a happy or even well paid lifestyle. Sure, statistically speaking people with a degree earn more (they used that one to entice people in the schools), but it's not as if you'll be earning very little without one, unless you do end up in a crappy dead-end job. For me, I chose a degree because my career goals require it.
Why some people choose to do one? Because they're bottle necked in. A friend studied English Literature because it was what was suggested for him and he was told having a degree would help him with his career, though he did not know what he was going to do as a career and in the 3 years he spent at University he felt more and more that his degree would be useless, in the final year he almost dropped out just to find work. Though he didn't, because he didn't want the money to go waste. But in the 3rd year, he was saying how being something like a gym instructor would suit him. It's not even a job he's need a degree for. Okay, something like a sports science degree might help him go for something more serious and better paid, but for what he wanted, it wasn't necessary. So I think this idea of pushing college/university education onto people absolutely ludicrous. Do what suits YOUR goals best. You don't need a Marine Biology degree if you're going to become an IT Consultant.
Being able to write John Smith BA(Hons) might make you sound smart, but in actuality, it doesn't necessarily make you better than anybody else.
This is my perspective on it.