Full Disclosure. I have been in an academic environment since 1994, except for three years when I worked at a federal research lab. During that time, I've been a student, support scientist, and now a research professor, which means non-tenured and unfunded. So, I see myself as an R&D consultant who leases office space from the university and has access to a relatively cheap labor force in students (but also unreliable). I've turned down 4 private sector jobs, most of them running engineering units, as well as 3 fed. lab jobs, most of them either director or deputy director jobs. I really like the academic environment.
I used to believe universities were centers of innovation. Nowadays, I think the global scale of innovation is too large for the innovators to be housed at universities. While the age-old prestige of universities still brings revenue, I think the forward looking universities see this as well and are becoming more of an extended R&D firm with large businesses. Because innovation is more and more outside of universities, it leads me to think that the type of education needed by innovators is different than it has been, and I'm not sure what universities will look like in the next 10 years.
Also, I wonder if really high paying jobs without college degrees are becoming a larger fraction of the workforce.
So, who's gonna start saving for their child's college fund? Who thinks their child is going to go to college? For those who are high school or undergrad age on this board, do you see any value in going to college?