Gotta say, as a sophomore who's been debating dropping out college, that these junior positions exist at all is encouraging.
I always thought my trajectory would be to go to my current school, transfer to a better one, get some good internships, and graduate with a CS degree. But my grades aren't where they need to be, so I probably won't be able to transfer to a good school. Honestly I've been concerned whether or not I can afford it anyways. Going for a junior position, or even a paid non-college-affiliated internship, is far more appealing.
I've got a pretty decent GitHub, and I've launched a few apps with another in the works. My major (and it is major) concern is that I don't have a good grasp on CS fundamentals - algorithms, data structures, etc. But it seems easier now than ever to teach yourself this - whether through Coursera, or through reading a variety of sources, and practicing on sites like Project Euler or Interview Street.
Maybe Hugo's experience was different than the average developer drop-out because of his ability to get into App Academy, but I'd like to think anyone who can demonstrate programming knowledge and intelligence has a shot, degree or not.
I agree that in a lot of cases it can be good to just persevere, but I'm really tired of seeing this back-and-forth. It's not all or nothing. If you're doubting yourself, if you're not 'all-in', take a break. You can go back and you will if it's the right thing for you.
We are really fortunate that CS skills are in such high demand. That this is even an option is pretty amazing. However, the day may come when the market turns down and the thing that makes an employer hire the next guy and not you is a piece of paper that says he stuck it out in college. Good luck whatever you do!
While I agree with your points, rejecting a company because it makes that demand isn't quite right. If (hypothetically) you have 2 equally good programmers, and the only difference between them is one has a degree and the other one doesn't, then its natural to choose the former
Yes, but this has been the case since I barely managed to get my high-school diploma, and tumbled on to the work scene (circa 2001). If you're bright, and you can program in a language that people use, there's opportunity. And that's been the case for a long while. And once you've been programming a while, no-one really cares about your degree - or lack thereof.
How many people didn't get accepted something like App Academy? One problem with self-taught education is the lack of metrics; it's hard to tell if teach-yourself is a viable path for everyone, or just a small percentage.
I don't have a CS degree, but I've still found that having a humanities degree from a top tier university is still very helpful for opening doors. Like it or not, having a degree is a positive signifier. Dropping out is (in many cases) a negative signifier. And if you're struggling to learn in college, what makes you think that you'll do better outside of college? I found that one of the most important things I learnt at university was how to learn effectively and quickly.