Re: I'm done with this
What I glean from these posts is something I've experienced in 3+ decades of IT--the best folks I have either worked with or hired don't have any of the vendor specific certs. They spend their time doing, versus studying to learn a particular exam. Very big difference in skill building. At the end of the time doing, the person is much more experienced. At the end of a cert learning process at best you have a piece of paper.
The problem is with employers, including mine, that require and/or are cert happy. I've had to jump through those hoops over the years and like my Novell Netware CNE are just pieces of paper in a folder to prove I have the organization required competencies. Just a check box. As an IT manager I would rather provide quality training and exposure to new technologies instead of sending someone off to boot camps. Hiring is another story--the organization required certs are filters that unfortunately leave out more qualified candidates.
My advice--do the certs going for the quality ones out there that cover broad checkbox items for qualifying for a position. Get real hands on experience via practicing using the many vendor supplied free resources. It is much easier now with both AWS & MS giving away lots of access to their technology. Back in my day you had to cannibalize hardware to cobble together a server, router, etc.
College is a different story. All are correct that many that attend are no better than those that have gained the experience on the job. Like certs, the degrees are a filter some organizations use. They miss many highly qualified candidates, but that's their choice. Think of all the IT pioneers that have no degree....and there are those that contributed through academia. You really need both and keep the doors open for all truly qualified. (my opinion) I got my degrees while working--yes, it sucked going to classes with folks 10 years younger and with different motivations. It did take much longer, but I got that paper and nobody cares about the GPA, honors, whether you were a jock/cheerleader, etc. :-)
Hang in there and avoid wasting time chasing the cert hypes!