|Problems? Is your data what you think it is?|
I'd like to offer an opinion from another unmotivated loser. The short version is : "Complete a degree as soon as you can, or it'll bug you when you get older."
First, here's my background. I have a single college class: Art Design I ( good for 5 credits, and only vaguely related to my current position as "Web Developer"). I graduated high school with a glowing 1.7 GPA after spending an extra year learning about this "homework" thing. Unsurprisingly, most of my work history has been dominated by food service.
Next, the good news. I have spent the last four years (or so) working as an all-around Web guy at various companies in the Pacific Northwest area. This is mostly due to the fact that I have lucky timing, a cooperative personality (apparently quite rare in IT people), and an obsession for programming & computers in general. I am well-paid: last month I took home more than my gross for the entire year of 1997. Of course, that might more of a reflection on what I made as a busboy in 1997 ;-)
After the good news, is the less pleasant stuff. I have been laid off twice since moving to Seattle in late 1999. I make noticeably less than developers with a piece of paper. My job is good, but I get jittery any time a manager calls for a surprise meeting. I mean, it's usually good news at this company, but still ... you never know.
Also, there are many huge, embarassing holes in my general CS knowledge. There's a lot of smiling and nodding when I talk to them guys with a phd. I'm all practice and no theory. A few years spent studying computer science with a bunch of other folks would definitely enhance my overall development ability.
I think that I have been particularly blessed, and recently had to reevaluate my religious feelings. However, I don't think that I can ride forever just on this blessing / lucky streak. I know of few developers my age with no college, and the numbers get smaller as I look farther ahead. Seems they wander off back into food service, or other non-technical work.
My long-term career may be perfectly safe, with or without a degree. I have no way of knowing the future. I do know that I would be better at my job with formal training. I'm also reasonably sure that I would be a little more confident in interviews if I had something official-looking to back me up.
You already have an edge over somebody like me, since you have a little bit of (relevant) college. However, you'll probably be asked the same sorts of questions in interviews: "Why didn't you attend / finish college?"
Of course, I'm going to school this fall, so I can stop nagging myself about this. I wonder how many other 30-year old freshmen I'll be running into?
Hmmm ... my sig is almost topical here ...
"All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." -- Mark Twain
In reply to Formal Education - Not Required, But a Darn Good Idea