I took mostly Math and CS courses at De Paul, having started with junior college and transferred from IIT. I had a close to 4.0 grade average there, and enough credits although I didn't complete the Math degree program so they later granted a general bachelors about 9 months after I'd already started work in Silcon Valley.
I considered advanced degree work but my reasoning then was there was nothing in Mathematics or Computer Science I couldn't just proceed with on my own without an institutional curriculum. I was already in my mid twenties and also didn't have the resources for graduate work. I don't regret this decision, given the circumstances and I think it's been proven correct and that i'ts more true today than ever that you can just access stuff if you have the ability to do so, but if I could have a do over I would have done a masters specializing in Knowledge Engineering if CS or Category Theory if Math.
My first actual programming was on a CDC 3300 which was then already fairly obsolete at one of the schools Control Data ran in downtown Chicago about 5 years before finishing at De Paul, and my interest was first stimulated by a Data Processing course at a community college a year or two before that. Between the CDI trade school and the transfer to De Paul, I worked three computer operator jobs, one for two years at Nottheastern Illinois University.
At IIT I had a NSF undergrad mathemetics grant which I used to study optimal pricing strategies using Dynamic Programming.
I have a working class background, but with a natural pull as an individual with a high IQ to academics and learning. Neither of my parents were college educated, my mother basically had a grade school education and my father was essentially a hustler, although his IQ was measured in a Federal Prison prior to a relatively early death at 160.
So thet's the dialectic which has and continues to express itself in my work-life, a tension between practical doing and research, learning. My ambition is to be like those individuals who dropped out of college and made great fortunes (although I did graduate) but with the twist of my breakout occurring after a long career in the field as an autodidact. The idea I've long held is to bring commercial and academic computing into a powerful synthesis, not just capitalize on the current state of implemnation by exploitation of wage labor in building a general purpose platform like Micrrosoft or Oracle or a single app concept like Facebook.
Many of the computing cultures I'm most drawn to such as Haskell, NixOS, etc. are largely populated by people in Academic Computing so I'm attempting to bridge cultures like that and the more commonly known and used ones with the practical orientation circumstances dictate.
The consumate effort in this direction is the Dominion System which additionally aims to be a practical domain management solution usuable by oridinary IT personnel.