My educational "journey" has been a pretty standard one for a lot of science and tech folk. High school, Uni, Work.
I completed high school at Takapuna Grammar School in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2010. I receieved NCEA with a merit endorsement. Upon application to universities in Australia, that grade seemingly got scaled up. In grading terms that I hope most people will understand, I went from the equivalent of a B average to an A+ just by applying for university overseas, which seems a little unfair.
Fair or not, I commenced a Bachelor of Science at Monash University. I did my first year full time, but over the course of my degree I gradually reduced my contact hours. I wanted to focus more on work. I was probably at my least productive through my second year of Uni. A haphazard sleep cycle, poor diet, and long work and study hours took their toll. Burning the candle at both ends might seem virtuous to some, but burnout and sleep deprivation make a mess of you.
I completed my studies in 2014, and graduated in May 2015. I was awarded a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Computer Science and a Minor in Microbiology. "Quite the mix", people tell me, but I don't think I could have coped with doing 100% tech subjects.
Since completing my degree, I've worked full time as an Indie Game Developer.
I'm very grateful for my education. It's hard to feel while you're undertaking it, but all those lessons and practice add up. Being an expert in the fundamentals of something is so very important for doing it well. Practice is key, of course, but you have to practice the right things, and learning purely "on the job" is a surefire way to pick up bad habits, and be limited to one way of thinking about things.
Sure, there are lessons taught by people 10 or 30 years out of date. There are labs given by over-worked PhD students with shonky specs and inattentive grading. I'm not arguing for the benefit of those classes, but they do give you practice at just getting the job done. There's a lot of that required in "the real world", and I think it's quite important to get used to it. It would, of course, be nicer if those classes cost a little less though!
I'm writing this because it's something I've managed to handle very well with my programming and design, but I really wish I'd recognised earlier with my art.
My fundamentals are still quite poor after 5 years of working as a professional artist. While it (somehow) hasn't stopped me being able to make a living, it's something I now have to very deliberately improve, and it's a lot harder to learn without a teacher.