The best years of your life (if you go, that is). Friends, legal drinking, more drugs, actually getting laid rather than pipe-dreaming about it. Clubs, etc! Yet less stupid social peer pressure and immaturity.
And no it doesn't have to be destructive if you can manage to balance your workload. And yeah it costs, big deal. Student loan (which is really a "tax") will be your saviour.
They say "school is the best years of your life" - rubbish.
University is much more fun if you make the best of it. Uni is the place where you can still feel young, yet get adult rights and treatment.
Even the once bullied kids and nerds become social butterflies at university.