I said to a friend, "Instead of going to college, why not join a startup, or better, why not start a business?" He replied, "Most startups fail."
Let’s pretend going to college is like starting a business. Every year, you pay tuition. Awesome; you’re already in the hole. Startups are usually the same: they require capital to get going. Whether that capital comes out of your pockets or the pockets of investors is up to you, but for the sake of comparison to college, let’s say it’s coming out of your pocket. So, exempting the possibility that the startup is paying you for your blood and sweat, both cost you money.
College purports to take your tuition and your time and convert it into knowledge, skills, and a social network. Startups purport to take your time (and any capital you invest) and convert it into… knowledge, skills, and a network. If you’re diligent, hard-working, insightful, and fortunate, you’ll get a fat bag of dollars out of the deal. If the startup fails, you’re no worse off than if you had graduated: you’re no longer pumping money into tuition / the company, you’re no longer bound by its schedule, and you’ve got experience to find your next gig with. For lots of folks, I would highly recommend foregoing college to start / join / volunteer for a young organization.
If you’re in college, or on your way to college, take time to prove to yourself why, for you, college is the best path for advancing your education. If nothing else, you’ll get more out of college for having been skeptical.