The benefit to formal education in this field is that it forces you to improve and learn over a shorter period of time. One of the main goals of university is to get a degree at the end of your studies right? Well you are going to have to work hard and fast to get that degree if the course spans say 2 years. So you have 2 years to cram in as much learning as possible and to fulfill assignments to a standard which enable you to achieve that degree. A formal education may teach you some things you wont learn outside of it, but not all of it will be relevant. Formal education simply pushes you to achieve a better standard more quickly.
I said in a previous post that I hated school, so the thought of a higher education was hellish to me. It wasn’t the learning that bothered me, it was other people and my state of mind when I finished at 16. Since then I have gone on to learn about things I want to learn about. I don’t know everything about everything, but I know enough to feel satisfied that I’m not a complete dunce.
When you hit a stage in photography that all the technical stuff becomes second nature, that’s when you really start to have fun with it. You aren’t thinking so much, your mind is free to create and let go. You are free from your tools and are able to concentrate on everything else that goes into making an image. That’s a damn good feeling :o)