The thing the olds (defined as anyone older than me) don't seem to get is that the American Dream world isn't there anymore. You know, if you roughly do the right things (keep your nose clean, go to college), then you can expect a lifetime of reasonably stable compensation. I went to a lesser state school and from what I can tell, this has been true for my peers. My drunken reprobate bro pals all (from what I can tell through the facebook and similar) seem to have done well enough for themselves, not because they were all Star Pupils, but because they did well enough and got decent enough jobs.
We graduated college into a recession, but not The Great Recession, and tuition was pretty damn cheap then. Things are different now.