Is college overrated?

Anya Kamenetz has written an excellent series dedicated to answering the question: "Is college worth the cost?":Read part 1 and part 2, which delves into the issue of graduate school.

Kamenetz gives a great overview of the issues and parrots the oft-cited statistic that people with bachelor's degrees still earn an average of about $1.2 million more than high school graduates over a 40-year career.

Here's the problem. Think about the college graduates you know and compare them to the non-college graduates. On average, is the fact that one has a diploma and the other doesn't the biggest difference? I would argue that college graduates are, on average, smarter, more ambitious, and more focused than their peers. That has nothing to do with the fact that they went to college.