Yea I would love to go to college or at least take a couple classes to continue my learning in the right direction. I actually asked my boss today, but the way he responded has me worried if I should have just kept quiet about it. The response was "Well if we were a computer company I'd understand your interest in going to school to further your career, but being a restaraunt I feel like you are just trying to set yourself up to leave us." I should have known better. I did play it off saying that I could move to the IT department for the given food chain restaraunt, but I'm not sure how it'll go down. There is always the option of the online courses, but the cost of a local community college vs a online college is rediculous.

If you want to be a good programmer then program
Thats not a problem! I spend alot of free time coding and I enjoy it enough that I commonly make the mistake thinking that some of the people I associate with actually want to hear me talk about it. The book Invitation to Computer Science was very correct in saying its not like other jobs where people can listen to you talk about it and feign interest. Its one of those subjects that you can see the listener's eyes glaze over nearly instantaneously and you know at this point they are either day dreaming or having some corny 80s movie hackers flashback where they think it looks like some fly around video game with midi music in the background.

The larger concern for me is that I am worried I haven't learned the most effective methods or the concepts of what is the most efficient way to do certain things. I have recently started listening to college lectures and buying more books. I should take your suggestion and find out what books the Universities are using so I know the information I'm getting is quality. When it comes to programming itself I can come up with a solution to most problems and if I dont' know how to do it I know where to look. (many times through forum search on this website!)

My real weakness lies within the depth of any of the languages and my ability to write a program to interact with other computers or the net (any networking situations). Physically accessing hardware would be another weak point for me. I wanted to program an application that would allow the user to load sheetmusic and plug in their guitar via USB to allow teaching or instructing of the music. It would listen to the user play and tell them how well they did at the end of the peice. I could not find ANY information on how to access the feed that came in via the USB drive so I know when it comes to the important stuff I am still in the dark. I'm not sure where the information for this kind of stuff can be found, and that is why I wondered if I should go to college.

There is alot of good information here and I'm glad I manned up and asked the question as it seems SQL, brushing back up with XML, JavaScript, and learning some network programming should be my next focus. Hopefully it'll set me on the path to a decent career in a year or two.