- My grandfather came to the USA from Italy in his mid teens with 1 year of schooling. He eventually owned a barber shop and some real-estate and sent his son to Brown University. He would call certain people “male educato” which meant some thing different than in what it means in English and something that seems far more important to me. It does not mean that you did not go to the right schools. he in fact I think he seemed more educated that many college grads.
But you really need 4 groups.
All must be students projected to graduate college easily.
Group 1 Goes right to work without a degree after high school and starts earning.
Group 2 Gets a degree right out of high school and goes right work after high school and starts earning.
Group 3 Goes to college and get degree but must hide that fact and live as if they have no degree.
Group 4 Goes to college get degrees and then to work.
Wait a long time and compare life time earnings.
Who would you bet does best from those 4 groups?
I think school helps people get to where they can read, write and do arithmetic and those skills are important to most everyone. A little algebra probably helps to. I think that the rest can be learned outside of school. My grand father evidently learned enough in one grade to continue to learn without more schooling but I would guess that somewhere between 3 to 6 years of schooling would yield enough school learning for most people. For scientists and engineers much more school probably benefits.
One could also argue that more schooling helps society to not miss as many late maturers. That is it might be difficult to see which 12 years should get the more schooling to become the scientists and engineers. So we might reap a benefit yet from our long period of schooling.