There's a high school near me that has a vocational fast track. You can get a head start on your HVAC cert or learn to be an auto mechanic, etc.There is an enormous amount of jobs that you can get through cert programs, technical schools and apprenticeships. Plumber, oil work, electrician, sanitation worker, etc.
Despite this, college is seen as the only way forward. It's so ingrained in the culture that states have passed laws requiring people to apply for colleges to graduate highschool. New Mexico is trying to do that now.
It is, for whatever reason, meant for the dumb fuckup kids and students typically get recommended to attend there as some kind of punishment. Kinda weird, considering their graduates probably make more money than the average kid on the college track.
The thing is, though, in the US you're pretty much going to need a college degree unless you work in the trades. And even then you might need to have one if you want to advance in your career to the managerial level. I don't know why we fetishize college degrees so much, but it is what it is.