I’m not criticizing anyone for making a “wrong” decision (as there is no wrong decision in this case), rather merely stating what I think and what I would do. I was mulling over this tweet as I was writing this.
Were I a young, bright, potentially college-bound kid today, I would not under any circumstances go to college if I had to take on any more than about $10,000 in debt. The job prospects are just too uncertain and at least in the US that debt will follow you around (and grow) forever if you don’t manage to land a decent job. That debt is also not able to be discharged in bankruptcy.
Now, going to college at all unless you can pay for it in full or receive a full-ride scholarship is an enormous risk, just as risky as buying a house was at the height of the housing bubble.
Some people will come out ok – but many will lose everything. That’s the nature of risk, and you never really know which side you are going to be on until it all goes up in flames.
So what would I do were I 16 again and didn’t join the army (as I did in real life)? I’d quit high school, immediately get a GED, and get all the technical and related certifications I could find, preferably on the more exotic and/or up-and-coming IT and similar systems out there.
Then I’d have a guaranteed job for at least 10 years, making more than most college grads.
If you really do want to go to college, work for 6-7 years, and save like mad. If you get a decent, hard cert and start a “real” IT job at 21, you should be able to save something like $70,000 by the time you are 26. Then go to college all you like.