Depends how you define success! For some, the degree itself is the goal.
The only people I ever hear who bag on education are people who don't have it
and are bitter. I love education, and am totally self taught. I've earned
several Ph.D's worth library, writing & studying tiem on VARIOUS subjects,
but I don't have a scrap of paper or one initial to list after my name*. I
just love to learn! I know stuff I never use!
(*except .MUSE )
Make no mistake: People who have those intitials and licenses - hold a huge advantage!!!!!!! (Just as one doesn''t NEED to be born wealthy to accumulate wealth it sure helps!!!! - and - on the other hand, the anger at disadvantage can be the very thing that propels one in the real world.)
I never went to art school -- got a degree -- thankfully, because that art school can really jack up an artist's brain.
But I agree with Lee, there are professions and situations where the system is firmly in place -- and you will not get what you want unless you have credentials, licenses, etc. - and he's right, often one can't always stop work long enough to get the degree!!
Even though I'm happy to be degree-less I don't need to justify it by sayin' Gates or Einstein share that distinction.
And I forget who mentioned this but the networking aspects are huge.
I would have a lot more work (even in set painting for TV and theater, or music) , if I had gone to Harvard or Yale - having nothing to do with my ability -- i know less talented guys who have big paying jobs at compnies like Dreamworks, granted by bigshots who share universities.