Ex: Saying things like: "You can get industry contacts at school that land you a job!" As if you can't do that at conventions, conferences, club meetings, bars, and park benches
Really? Sure, you can meet people at conventions, conferences, club meetings, bars, and park benches
True in theory. But let's face it, the vast majority of people here can't socialize productively and voluntarily without at least two drinks School forces you into it by group projects, clubs, etc. In all seriousness, why do so many people meet their spouses in college? It's very difficult to find that level of social interaction once you've moved out of that environment and the same goes for professional networking.
If you do choose to try and make a go without the degree, there's a few things to keep in mind IMO:
* if your school grades were good, then there's no real problem with enrolling after a few years in the work force, should you decide that the degree is a good idea after all. But it's awfully hard to go back to school psychologically and it will be much more difficult to connect socially with the people around you.
* You better be really god damned incredibly good at your craft. It is not enough to be a "good" programmer or even to be better than your peers. For this to be productive, you need to be stellar. That means a lot of work, a lot of research, a lot of DIY projects. Good software engineers with degrees AND ability AND experience are plentiful right now, so competing with that is not trivial.
* Pick up the standard textbooks for key pieces of the computer science education -- data structures, algorithms, computer architecture, operating systems, databases, etc. Know them well. This actually applies to everyone in the field regardless of background.
* Specialize. Life will be easier if you are really good at one particular thing and have the knowledge and projects to back it up.
* Understand that you will always be forced to prove more than your peers and paid less for at least a while. Some job opportunities will never call you back at all or will inexplicably skip over you. Comes with the territory.
* Interact with the rest of your peers in every way possible. Social networking (especially Twitter), conferences, meetups (IGDA etc), all of it. You need to be actively outgoing.
Edited by Promit, 14 September 2013 - 08:15 PM.