First, this question needs to be moved to the Discussion Board. I am sure you will get many different answers.
I tend to believe that stories like Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea is not over-rated. Instead, it is a story that allows a different perspective on life and the struggles which mankind must face. The story deals with relevant themes (the human condition, love, youth and age, and luck versus skill). Today's students certainly need an education in these themes.
But, I can see where the story may leave some readers feeling detached. While the story works for those near coasts, with fishing being generational, it is hard to relate to if one is a student from the Midwest or states which do not depend upon the trade.
While there are many novels which examine similar themes, for those who have read the text, the novel normally remains timeless.
The Old Man and the Sea, therefore, is no different from any text. Some people like it, some people do not. It really depends upon personal preferences and how one teaches it (if that is where the question is being posed from).