In generations past, many people went to work full-time after graduating from high-school. Going to college was often the exception, not the rule.
Today's higher-education bubble started when attending college became the rule instead of the exception.
The US had the first great mass participation university system. ... An American born in the 1950s was about twice as likely to become a graduate than in the rest of the industrialised world.
BBC, Dec. 4, 2012
These days it's common to see magazine cover headlines like "The 25 Best Universities" or other types of university rankings. All the while, tuition costs have soared, and so has the availability of federal student loans.
The quadrupling from a little over $100 billion in [student] loans in 2008 to a record high of $460.2 billion in loans in March accounts for most of the renewed rise in total U.S. consumer debt. In classic late-bubble fashion, the federal government effectively took over the student loan market in 2010. The timing should turn out to be another disaster for taxpayers. ... A stunning reversal in total student loans will almost surely be an integral part of education's descent. The suddenly slumping rate of change indicates that this reversal is starting now.
The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, June 2012
Many of tomorrow's college professors are in school today, and in turn assume substantial debt to get their Ph.D.s. Ironically, some will teach their future students about the higher-education bubble and its collapse.
That part of the curriculum may well include news articles similar to the two below:
In a sea of unemployed grads, a bachelor's degree has become less attractive and has many students seeking out educational avenues without a hefty price tag.
Fox Business News, Nov. 5, 2012
The demand for four-year college degrees is softening, creating an "inflection point" that is sapping pricing power at more U.S. colleges and universities.
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10
A trend toward less pricing power in higher education is a remarkable sea change.
It's also part of the larger deflationary trend.