You’ll find advice on both sides of the table here and to be fair, both are right, so take what I’m about to say with a dose of balance from “the other side”. It is as molona put it so eloquently, ultimately a personal decision that you make for you.
I’m an absolute believer in going through college if you are looking to “climb” a ladder or in any way are uncertain about your future. The only time I feel it’s ok to skip “optional” education is if you have decided to pursue a “non traditional” type of work for life [not what you do but how you do it like freelancing or building your own shop] and even then I still suggest it for most people. There will always be those who defy the “rules”. They are not the majority.
Why so adamant? Glad you asked
The Long Term: Degrees are a defacto requirement to work in, and certainly manage, at most known companies.
While I’ve seen people get around this if you want to transition to another company in the future you will face challenges. In the last 4 places where I have managed a team we did not interview people without at least 2-year degrees. I’m sure it cost us some great talent, designers like yourself perhaps, but that’s how we and much of the corporate world works. It is changing but it’s a slow road.
Do you want to be a designer / coder forever? Whether you choose to move up or move out, not having a degree will limit your options in job types and companies significantly. Anyone who says otherwise is simply misinformed; you can ignore and justify those limits but they are very, very real.
The “college” experience:I had dinner with an old college friend last night who was lamenting on leaving the school we went with in favor of another [better] place because the experience was diminished. I can’t imagine my life without the experiences I gained in college: the growing up process, the lifelong connections that came out of it, the stupid times and the life of being a student.
College is intended to teach you about a range of topics that prepare you to live in a complex world. Much of this is inflated nonsense but there’s truth to every bit of nonsense…
In all fairness not everyone enjoys the experience and you grow up without school… have fun without school… but it’s a different life going straight into 9-5.
Putting it all together…$22/hr… 45k a year. That’s nice money for someone making little or no money today, even good for a social science graduate, but where does it go? Try living anywhere near NYC for 45k. Flip that around and look at job listings in NYC; I manage in a similar market and would kill to hire someone for 60k let alone 45.
Does this mean you will fail or not be wildly successful or happy in life if you stop school? Heck no. There are many stories of huge names that left school and many people right here at SPF that didn’t go or didn’t finish who have great lives, run businesses, work for top shops, etc. Lately I’ve seen some compelling pieces arguing for vocational schooling and more and more I feel like that learning needs to come into a university setting so people do leave more prepared for life.
Yet whenever someone asks this question I feel compelled to write at length about it.
Life is about choices and like it or not, there is a stigma around not having a degree. You can manage it, live with it, and thrive with it as if it wasn’t there but you are choosing to shut many doors. The question comes down to what you want… to leave those doors open, to get that experience [it still exists as a transfer / late start] or to pursue what feels like a good career and forgo the established route.