I studied computer science with a fellow student I will call Joe. Joe did the first year of college and then dropped out and got a job as a developer. I studied four years, then took an extra six months to do some advanced courses, then got a job at the same company. Now Joe has 1 year of education and 6 years of job experience. I have 4.5 years of education and 2.5 years of job experience.
Joe is far more senior than me, and since he we are buddies, he disclosed to me that he makes $17,000 more than me. I'm currently looking for new work and I have noticed that interviewers don't care about my education, they just want to know about my job experience.
I'm not sure how to compare my skills to Joe's. I often find myself surprised that he doesn't understand concepts I would consider basic (when he saw I had written a recursive method, he thought it was a mistake because he wasn't even familiar with the concept). On the other hand, I often go to him for help when it comes to practical stuff like deployment and writing build scripts.
I have two friends who are currently studying computer science and I'm wondering if I should advise them to do the same as Joe. There is a gender element here, because I understand that men drop out more often than women and also have higher salaries, so I wonder if women should be advised to drop out too.