(from The New York Times):

By Jeffrey J. Selingo

Nearly 40 percent of American workers hold a bachelor’s degree. College graduates are found in virtually every profession: 15 percent of mail carriers have a four-year degree, as do one in five clerical and sales workers and 83,000 bartenders.

Getting a bachelor’s degree is what going to college means to most Americans and is so ingrained in our culture that students who do not march along are often admonished, questioned and considered — or consider themselves — failures.

Yet the decades-long march to college-for-everyone-at-18 has actually closed off options for teenagers and 20-somethings, rather than opened up opportunities.

As recently as the 1970s, a teenager had a number of options after graduating from high school: get a good-paying job right away, enlist in the military, find an apprenticeship in a trade or go to college.

Today, a teenager really has only two of those options: the military or college. Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, so most go to college right after high school. Yet only 52 percent of young people have either a two- or four-year degree or an industry certificate by the time they reach their mid-20s. CONTINUE READING HERE