Somewhere along the line we've muddied the waters in education where it applies to 'higher' education.
Everyone should have access to education beyond the 12th grade. If you can pay for it, you will. If you cannot pay for it society should help you. With the agreement that you will pay society back as you are able.
College is not the only educational access that will help you lead a rewarding life. It certainly is one path that you should consider. Everyone should have access to career mentors that know you and can help guide you with the right educational choices.
If you want to be a vet or doctor or a judicial professional you're going to need a college education. That's great. It's wonderful. Go get 'em, Bucko!
If you want to be writer there are classes and even online course to help.
If you want to be in the trades, like a machinist or engine mechanic or potter, you can get an education in trade schools. And you can definitely have a happy and rewarding career.
You want to farm or ranch? There are farmers and ranchers who will gladly show you the ropes. Roll up your sleeves and find a few. You'll hit it off with the 'right' one and you're off.
It's a simple point. Never stop learning. Never stop pushing your talents a little further, explore a little further. Part of what makes life worth living is looking for and finding new ways to enjoy your job and your life.
College is one way and it's a great way. But it isn't the only way. Explore, examine the alternatives.
Here we go with my 'on paper' exercise ;-)
Write down 5 'jobs' you want. Really want, not wish. A wish is a dream you know will never happen but is fun to think about. A want is something you can and will accomplish if you set your mind to it.
For each job draw a picture of you at this job. Simple stick figures are fine, don't get hung up on the details. Next to 'you' draw some of the 'things' you will produce/conceive/achieve at this job. When you have all 5 done, sit back with a cup of tea and daydream about each one. Pick the one you like best.
Then find out what education you need to get to that picture.
Go. Explore. Dream.