In Australia a large number of able (boys mostly) leave school at the end of the sophomore year and enter the trades and earn a good to great living, and find themselves men at the end of two years of work, hormones conquered, self-confident in their ability to make a life for themselves and a family with their hands, and some fraction decide to go back to school (with a nice nest egg to pay the way.. no culture of loan-based servitude).
And unemployment in Australia is near zero (esp. if you’re able to work in the trades ("if you can hold a shovel or a trowel, here’s a (first) job"), and willing to work non-stop away from family in the minerals or energy business out west).
A work-tourist visa lets a youngster make a wager that an employer will be impressed and sponsor them, and round-trip airfares (to Perth) can be insanely low (i.e. a third the cost is US government fees & taxes).
BillG observes the nature of secondary education is about to change, perhaps radically. Where a $2000 education will likely match a $20K investment (though arguably the $100K investment buys a child into a different strata – the ruling elite, where merit and grades don’t matter). Granted, a revolution is coming that will impoverish the ruling-class, but it may not happen in our lifetimes.
Bill Gates (a curious URL to an amateur video, but safe as of Friday Aug 27) http://kiwi.kz/watch/qnpt4tprnzto
And for those not in college yet, here’s what Bill uses with his eleven year-old: http://www.khanacademy.org/