| The appeal colleges are using nowadays aren't about the curriculum but the facilities.
I'd say that's part of it, but not all of it. Yes, there are bigger expectations from colleges in terms of facilities, and that's perhaps doubly true of private institutions that charge exorbitant tuition. But a lot of the appeal of 4-year colleges is still in the ability of a 4-year degree to open up career paths in "white collar"/prestigious jobs. Of course, you don't need to go to Oberlin to do that. But I'm sure that the parents paying 64K/year for their kids to go to Oberlin don't want their kid to be a franchise manager. They want them to be lawyers, doctors, dot-com entrepreneurs, or some other Well-Paying White Collar job. Those parents are also probably wealthy enough that $240K over four years doesn't mean that much, and they'd rather little Johnny or little Jackie have the "best possible experience", which includes new dorms, shiny rec centres, and low student-to-teacher ratios.