I'll take your word on the BA for auto mechanics and electricians. Regarding whether or not going to a big name university is worth it or not, it depends on the name AND what you plan on doing afterwards. There are a handful of schools that are direct pipelines to the major investment banks. If you do not go there, it will be VERY difficult to get an entry level position at one of those investment banks. On the other hand, there are about 2,870 4 year institutions in the US. My bet is that a degree from one of the big 3 (particularly TESC or COSC, I hate the name Excelsior) is at least as valuable as 2,000+ of them.