The philosophy of happiness is not the issue. And my glib comments were meant to emphasize the earning potentials. If you don’t care about money, good for you. Yes, when you’re young, backpacking through the Czech Republic, sleeping on a broken mattress in a hostel, and living off Top Ramen is fun. But when you get older, an all inclusive five star resort in Fiji starts sounding better. And, if you think money doesn’t increase the odds of marrying “well”, then I don’t know what to say. I think you are confusing “possible” and “probable”.
The OP was asking about degrees and getting jobs with big companies. It is a statistical fact that having a degree increases your odds and earning potential. If you want to take a different path, then go for it (and so have I.) But the numbers don’t lie. While web dev is probably the advanced field where it is easiest to find work without a degree, it still does help, especially when applying to big companies. Again, not impossible without a degree, but certainly easier with. The following companies and the percentage of people with degrees:
- Google: 83%
- Salesforce: 84%
- Facebook: 84% (42% with Master’s degrees)
- Apple: 71%
- Linkedin: 83%
Again, you can get a job with these companies without a degree. But considering the sheer volume of people coming up without degrees, those slots are going to be very competitive. Again, let’s not confuse possibility with probability. Perhaps what we define as “probable” is subjective, but there are at least degrees of probability here. Not all levels of probabilities are the same.
If I were young and knew what I know now, I’d want to equip myself with every advantage. A sign of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. I’d want to put of my employment for a few years for a great weapon that will dramatically increase my odds of success.
And to reiterate a lost point. you really do learn some things from a CS degree. When I studied programming 20 years ago, I learned things that are still helping me, things that I haven’t seen explained as part of any of the books or tutorials I’ve read. And getting my (unrelated) degrees taught me a lot about how to learn, organize, and convey information, how to meet deadlines - things that I doubt I would have learned anywhere else, besides making great connections. You also are forced to learn a lot of things that you might have skipped over, not just about technology but about art and science and math and the world. Companies are increasingly seeing the value of a liberal arts education. There’s a reason why these big companies favor degrees and pay extra for them - it’s not charity.
I know people like to fancy themselves iconoclasts and poo poo the establishment. But there really is a value to a traditional education. It is a system that has been been developing for thousands of years and it has gotten pretty good. I know people love to extol self-teaching, and we perhaps live in the easiest time to self-teach in the history of mankind. But let’s not abandon a great system just because self-teaching is easier and cheaper. The fact is that most people lack the discipline to be truly effective autodidacts.