via the usual suspect
As a product of the Korean GI Bill I can hardly denounce the concept. The problems really came when the intellectuals convinced people that "investment" in trade schools and such like wasn't as desirable as "investment" in higher education meaning universities. At the same time, the State Colleges became "State universities" and in the "upgrade" put more into graduate schools to the detriment of undergraduate education. We then poured more money into the "university" system which is quite unsuitable for education of more than about 25% of the population (I'd put that at a lower figure, but we can stay with that).
Now a lot of students who would do well at "college" level education can't get that; they have to go to "universities" and learn French Narrative Theory in Freshman Comp.
If investment is needed in "education" -- and it is -- it's in training in technical skills. Most of that could be done in high school. Of course the high school teachers don't want to work that hard and will stand in union solidarity with the college professors who want the large number of students willing to borrow money to go listen to foreign graduate students teach introductory math courses in incomprehensible dialects, but it's "world class" isn't it? Doesn't everyone deserve a "world class university education"?
So we continue to neglect the great majority of our citizens to benefit a handful of intellectuals. And they never catch wise.
-- Jerry Pournelle
I don't pretend to know the history of it, but I completely agree that most of what I learned in college (the first time - for the BA) was useless. I had a lot of fun in college. But I didn't learn much that I've ever used again - except as answers to trivia questions.