Sir Ken Robinson and others have talked about how the current system of public education was born in the needs of the Industrial Revolution. The main purpose was to take fairly uneducated farm people and produce factory workers. To work on an assembly line you needed to be able to repeat tasks, read, write, and do simple arithmetic. Creativity was not necessary, in fact it was a hinderance. You didn’t want your assembly line workers trying new things did you? You also needed a smaller group of people to be managers. Therefore the college system was used to prepare these people.
Here is a great Ken Robinson video that explains the factory model. (the most relevant part starts at about 6:30)
This model of education is obsolete simply because we don’t need those kind of people anymore. Robots are going to take over the repetitive tasks in short order.