WORK??? Hey I thought we all had won the lottery.
Not going into the college debate. I would never say it's a waste of time or money. Who says stuff like that.
I'm not in the marine industry or on the water, I run a compagny with my wife that deals in corporate healthcare. What I do have, is enthusiasm for boats, and that I also had when I was your age. What I did was to look up the local boat shops, marina ect. and just ask if there was any work to do. I learned to wrench from home, and got my first summer job at the local merc dealer 24 years ago when I was 13. I know others who did things the same way, and today work with boats one way or another. A friend of mine is a ships building engeneer, another works with Maersk a third is with a smaller local hi-perf shop ect. I'm not in the US, but in Denmark. Still, things are pretty much done the same way up here as in the US. What you wanna do, is get your foot in the door, then find out what area you like. Engeneering, building, technical....
Not exactly what you asked, but maybe it can give you a few thoughts.
Good luck with it.