In Israel, every high school student will serve in the military for a number of years before they can start their college (with some exceptions). All of Israel's nine public universities, and some of its colleges, are subsidized by the state, and students pay only a small part of the actual cost of tuition.
Now, US is not Israel and we are not sending all kids to the troops. And even our public universities - including my alma mater UC Berkeley - are fighting the uphill battle that state funding is becoming lower and lower.
But why can't we encourage some 18-years-olds to apply for "Pre-College Work" programs that employers such as UBS, Google, Farmers Insurance, Airbnb, etc to fund and operate?
They can call them "college trainees" and they will receive full benefits and compensation. The only difference between a college trainee and an employee who is a college grad would be: the trainee's paycheck will be deposited into an individual tax-free fund account that can only be used for higher education expenses.
In another word, the trainees work for the experience, save for the college, and at the end of the two-year trainee period, will have two great options: 1) convert to a full-time employee; 2) go to the college with substantial experience and decent savings.
I will be the first one to sign up this program for my high school teen if there's one by 2018.