Arnold Kling writes:
I don’t think we have a recipe that says, "Take a child of two non-college educated parents, add primary education ingredient X, bake, and out comes a college-capable high school graduate." The mystery ingredient X has yet to be discovered.
Some Asian cultures or immigrant groups come close to finding this ingredient. It involves total parental commitment to the educational ideal and a willingness to enforce the notion that a non-educated child is shaming the entire family, not just the child. That said, I’m not sure that college education per se is the key here (and probably Arnold would agree; read his phrasing carefully). If you can bake up some low rates of time preference, you’re coming pretty close to the real mystery ingredient.