Companies hire and promote based on experience, capability, and knowledge. Many entrepreneurs are just really smart people who used their knowledge to fill a niche or enter an existing market with something better than what was already there. Note that none of this requires a degree.
There are thousands of college-level courses available online, absolutely free of charge. The term used to refer to this phenomenon is "Massive Open Online Courses" or "MOOCs". MOOCs are complete courses, some even have an instructor community of folks who help each other through the course. There are homework assignments, textbook materials, lecture materials...many have videos of lectures.
Anyone who has ever attended college knows that you only get out of it what you put into it. Instructors and lectures only take you so far; as a student, you must study, review, research, and ask questions. MOOCs are much the same and those with videos of lectures and/or social communities offer just as much support as any college (if not more).
The only down side - you do not get college credit and although there may be a certificate of completion at the end of some courses, it doesn't count for very much. However, the goal here is not to get a degree - it's to get the knowledge.
"Knowledge is power." Cliche, but so very true. If you can learn how to develop iOS software, you can write apps and sell them on the App Store. If you want to develop a new engine, you can devote time to study of physics, chemistry, and mechanical engineering. Need to learn accounting to handle your home business' finances, you can grab a few accounting classes. Interested in expanding your knowledge of history so your novel accurately portrays a particular period in time, you can grab some history courses.
College is a convenient, organized way to become educated and earn a document that tells the world you put in the extra time and effort to advance your personal knowledgebase. It's not the only way to expand that knowledgebase and MOOCs offer everyone a fantastic opportunity. This is where the rubber hits the pavement; if you want to make something out of yourself, it's up to you and no one else to make that happen. This is another tool you can tuck in that belt as you work your way up the pole of success.
Search "MOOC" on Google and you'll get nearly 3 million results. Look it up in the news and you'll find enough articles to keep you reading quite a while. There are lots of big name universities involved including Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Apple has the iTunes University (available on Apple devices) with many courses as well.
Here are a few links to help get you started....
- CodeAcademy - http://www.codecademy.com - Software development courses.
- Coursera - http://www.coursera.org - Many different courses.
- Duolingo - http://www.duolingo.com - Language courses.
- EdX - http://www.edx.org - Many different courses.
- KhanAcademy - http://www.khanacademy.org - Many different courses.
- MIT - http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm - Many different courses.
- Open Culture - http://www.openculture.com - Many different courses.
- Stanford - http://online.stanford.edu/ - Many different courses.