Completely agree here. Public school is auto-pilot almost, you don't have to put any effort in to get through. Good study habits aren't formed unless you are guided by good parents. You can learn it yourself too but that usually comes after you make mistakes. You are so naive I'd say under 22 in this world. People need better guidance on what to do with themselves after High School. College is not the only option, especially now with the movement to remove college degree from resume applications.you're mixing two different situations here: failing stem students, and socially alienated nerds. there is some overlap between these phenomena, but they are not the same, and they have different causes.
about the college dropout types: from my experience, in more than 90% of cases, it's not an issue of them lacking brain power or smarts, but an issue of them lacking discipline and work ethic. these are often smart boys, who cruised through high school with zero effort on pure brain power alone. then, when that is no longer enough because college classes are actually challenging, they suddenly fail miserably. because throughout their entire life they never had to actually put effort into anything to succeed, and nobody taught them the importance of discipline and work ethic, it was always just "look at how much of a genius our boy is" and "work smart, not hard"
imo it's not so much a failure of the education system, more a failure of parenting.
about the socially alienated friendless basement dwellers: this is a huge and complex topic. some of it comes down to (lack of) parenting too, similar to the other situation, but there is more at play here. these dudes tend to be very introverted and shy, very self-conscious, and come off as clunky and awkward as a result. these types obviously do not mesh well at all with modern day pop culture / youth culture which is hyper-focussed on non-stop socialisation, extremely sexualized, and 100% geared towards extroverted people. being shy/awkward/introverted in this environment makes these guys outcasts and targets for bullying almost by default, and in the age of ubiquitous social media there is literally no way to avoid or escape this once it has started, so for many the only option is to basically retreat from society entirely, resulting in hardcore alienation, with all the problems that entails.
When you get into the workforce and a career, you realize titles don't mean shit. There are shit doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. I know many who got out of all their schooling and forgot most of it in a few years, or directly said they were on cruise control with gov contracts until they retire (science field). It does not take intelligence to get through most degrees in college, just raw memorization and basic problem solving.
I've known many amazing engineers who are self-taught, mainly in the computer science field. Leaders in the company who are leaps and bounds ahead of anyone with a 4 year or more degree. I'm not saying that is the case with everyone, just saying it matters more what you can do and your experience in the industry vs what college you went to.
I completely get that there are fields where you must have college (doctor, nurse, scientist, etc), but there are tons of other careers out there where you have everything you need online to learn what is needed to get in, then go from there and continue learning and doing in the industry.