Hey Carl, thanks for sharing your experience. I think the question here was not so much whether college closes or opens doors, but whether it opens enough doors to be worth it? Keep in mind, we’re only counting doors that aren’t also open for those without a degree ☺
As someone with no degree, I’ve found it is not particularly challenging to land a job in my field (software development). Experience is truly important though; in fact I would consider it more important than a degree unless you’re a Stanford or MIT grad, in which case big companies like Google will usually grant you an interview.
My first job in the field was at a digital agency. Usually for this type of company the hiring bar is lower because unless their focus is entirely technology and software, it’s unlikely they need a highly experienced developer. I got a chance because I was willing to work for a low rate (I was 18 at the time) and I had self-taught experience and some small past projects to show for.
After 1 year I left because my pay wasn’t really rising fast enough to match my skill, and spent a month or so focusing on school, and all the while I was beefing up my portfolio on GitHub by publishing code.
I got bored of that pretty quick and started looking for a job in earnest again. Spent a month interviewing with maybe a dozen companies. Towards the end I had just begun interviewing with Microsoft when I received an offer from someone else. Saw it as an amazing opportunity, took the offer, got on a plane and never looked back.
Point is, I was able to get my foot in the door without a degree. Sure there was a fair bit of luck involved and my background certainly helped, but overall I’ve spent very little time interviewing and have had great success so far. I’m 19, have zero student loans, have my own apartment, and handle my finances entirely.
So you’re not wrong when you say you either need experience or an education; the key is knowing where to start. When I was 18 I knew I wasn’t going to be interviewing at Microsoft for my first tech job, that’s for sure! I was realistic in my expectations and aimed lower, and because I did that I got the experience I needed to get where I am today. There are doors that will remain closed to me forever unless I finish my bachelor’s, but these tend to be corporate roles that don’t appeal to me anyway.