As your example illustrates, turning down college education as a strategy for avoiding debt is a smart thing to do for one's economic future these days. However, avoiding that debt trap as a political action also entails turning onself away from being exposed to critical thinking - both as a history and as a discipline.
As Brian points out, increasingly, the degree that allows one to pay off that educational debt lies in pursuing the security or energy sectors - probably not much critical theory to be found there.
So, is there a place for critical thinkers to emerge and counter the hegemonic discourse that is not dependent on subjects coming from institutions that are increasingly being determined by their facility for unit shifting?
At the moment, like most 'exciting' art practice, this critical work relies uncomfortably on a system of patronage that lives off the very thing it critiques.
So, how does a snowboarder get their facility for engaging critically with the system they're playing within - or has it happened that by squeezing tuition, here comes the most wonderful way of creating heaps of willing subjects, happy (if they were lucky by their birth circumstances) with their rewards?
I keep thinking some new forum will emerge that fills the space left by the atrophy of humanities funding. I can't imagine the form it will take, or how the fluency with critical practice will ebb and flow in the future.
Not sure how to end here, so going to the optimistic and back to analogy, I go to the snowboarders: the response will be shaped both by the weather and how s/he chooses to engage with it.