I would almost feel criminal to say this: the collegiate system that we have in place today is not working. I would feel criminal because I am stealing your time. Everyone involved in higher education knows that this is true to some degree or another. Part of the issue, I think, is that colleges don't know what they are to be about. They want to be all things to all students. Think of the gradiose promises made (not always explicitly): jobs, money, a spouse (or a lot of sex, at least), "education", beauty, self-fulfillment, and maturity. The last one, I think, is the most devious (no way I spelled that right). When students get out of college, we consider them "adults." From my own experience and from the way I see many students acting (not all, mind you) this is just not the case. We are graduating students who cannot discerningly read, argue anything past ad hominems (once again disregard spelling), or spell. Nor do we graduate disciplined people able to handle their affairs without state, church, or further familial assistance (the vast amounts of debt money required to become "adults" doesn't help either). The funny thing is that they just spent 3-7 years in a discipline.
Part of this, of course, is the students' responsibility. If you are at college, or are going to college, you need to consider how you are using your time. I did not use mine wisely at college, better than some I'd like to think, but that is not for me to decide. One of the questions that unfortunately gets posed too late at the institution I teach for is: why are you here at college? Many, of course, would say to get a job or a better job. For some, this will happen: if you major in business, engineering, or go do graduate work in the sciences. Getting a job isn't a bad thing by any means and jobs in other fields are to be found, but you'd better distance yourself from your contemporaries if you hope to actually get a good job. That extra time not spent in class (a typical week has 144 hours in it, plus a day of rest--typical class time is 15-20 hours, not exactly strenuous) could better be spent doing something like writing trenchant movie or music reviews that get you noticed by people in the field. Both of these gentlemen are an inspiration to me from their hard work at cultural discernment and criticism, something I am woefully inadequate at.
In other words, book learning and sitting half awake in a lecture can only get you so far. There comes a day of reckoning when all that "learning" comes to call: when you need to move out and move on. Your professors can't learn this stuff for you, nor should you rely on them to spoon feed it to you. If you aren't in the library reading up on as much outside information concerning your discipline as you can, you are putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. Those that like to (somewhat elitistly, it is for sure) think of themselves as the "best and the brightest" act like it: they work hard for it.
The greatest disadvantage that our collegiate system is forcing on students is the idea of "talent." True, some people seem more created for the sciences. All that means is that the "non-gifted" student needs to work harder and smarter at it--and then tell their future employers or future customers or future whatevers about it! If our students knew that the key to getting ahead academically is to burn the midnight oil, then we would see some truly gifted (albeit tired) students. It wouldn't hurt, however, if when they are having trouble, they came to their professors or classmates that have gone before them for help. So many students labor in a rigid isolation that keeps them from seeing how communities pass on and enhance learning. So little work in the world is done in a vacuum, except vacuum mechanics 101.