By 'getting something for themselves' I dont mean starting with nothing and reinventing wheels. I mean deciding you're interested in something and enthusiastically seeking it out. Tactics for doing that would include finding other people interested in the same thing to learn from and with, and looking at what people have done before.
Thats one of the problems I see in schooling - learners are isolated from the resources by various gatekeepers, learners dont choose their own path through those resources led by their own interest and by seeking independent advice, they don't get to choose a teacher they think they could be compatible with, they dont get to decide who they're going to learn and work with at all. Its completely out of their hands. They just get stuck in a room with a bunch of people of the same age group and have someone far older than them act as a superior and tell them what part of what subject theyll be studying today, and how.
Having a curriculum chosen for you by people you'll never meet, having a teacher plan your lessons without you and choose your books for you, and tell you who you can work with and where you have to do it, so you can be assessed to another person who you'll never meets standards - how is that a collective experience?
A collective experience implies there's something mutual about it, that you arent just a vessel for someone else's ideas, but that you are part of shaping the direction and result of those ideas.
Im not surprised you see uni students crying over feeling isolated. Theyve probably got so used to having their education directed by someone else, they dont know how to deal without it. Id guess that the kids that learned more outside school than in it probably cope a lot better.