Well, I've made the same argument to my kids about why they should choose the school that is going to serve them best; that the salary premium you get for that MIT degree goes away when people are comparing track records.
But there is absolutely no doubt that a college education on average is an economic benefit. The lifetime earning of people with a bachelor's degree are 1.66x that of someone with high school diploma -- again on average. Someone who starts out as a tradesman and ends up with a successful contracting business can do very well for himself, obviously.
But college is about more than economics. It's the last time in your life that your job is to learn stuff; you don't realize what a luxury that is until you miss it. It's a time to make friendships and have experiences good and bad that you couldn't have had any other way.