You don't go to college to get a degree. You go to get an education.
This isn't true in the vast majority of cases. It wasn't true in your case when you returned to school.
I guarantee you that most people would say that someone who attends all of his or her classes for four straight years and applies themselves fully to learning has still failed if for some reason they didn't come away with a degree. Most companies require a degree, not an education. If they did, in fact, require the latter there would be a lot more of them requiring that applicants demonstrate their education by passing a comprehensive test, not just showing them a sheepskin.
Making education accessible to everyone who wants to be educated is a very worthy societal goal. It's not met by making college accessible to everyone who wants to attend. That is where the reform comes in.
The secondary education market is a multi-billion dollar industry and the unit of trade is the degree. If degrees weren't so heavily relied upon as a job qualifier there would be a lot fewer people taking on crushing debt to obtain them. The quality of secondary education, as well as the college experience, is declining while the cost continues to increase.
If education is so important to the prosperity of nations and individuals (and it is) the means of obtaining it can't continue to be such a financial burden and barrier and has to improve in terms of what it delivers.
You've more than once made the point that college teaches people how to communicate in written and verbal formats. I'm sure not seeing that and the data doesn't reflect it. How does a kid come out of college with a degree, but still be unable to compose a coherent business letter or report? Why are corporations providing remedial writing training to their college-educated employees? I require every applicant who makes the first cut to write several business letters for my consideration. The quality of some of these letters are stunningly poor, and these are people who have been writing them for years as part of their job.
When I worked at a very large international corporation, I had a few intern slots in my division. It was good for me because they were positions I didn't have to budget and fight for, and it was good for the company because it was a feature of their community relations program: All of the interns were graduates of State colleges and universities. The applicants were students who had majored in the field of our industry. One of the most difficult tasks I had was to find applicants who I felt met the minimum standards expected of an intern. It was depressing. We always managed to find qualified candidates but not before reviewing and interviewing a great many of them. I don't know how most of them graduated with degrees and I find it very hard to believe that they succeeded in the field, once they got a job somewhere else.
I know this will spark controversy, but the truth of the matter is that the minority candidates were, in general, the least prepared applicants. This is not to suggest that they should not have been in college, but they should not have graduated with degrees. The colleges they attended failed them and all of the woefully deficient candidates who would not have been categorized as "minority candidates," and there were plenty of them too. A student has a responsibility to learn and if they won't devote the time and effort to it, it's not the school's fault, but if they don't learn and the school still designates them as educated by granting them a degree, something is very wrong. I would bet that all of them eventually found jobs because of the corporate reliance on degrees as indicators, but unless they were educated on the job, I doubt any of them have been successful. Not good for the students, not good for the employers, but just fine for the colleges. They got their money and increased or maintained a graduation rate which they market to attract new consumers of their high dollar product.