So yes, back on topic, if you don't go to university you can learn to code in your spare time. You just have to dedicate yourself and work at it. University gives me time to study programming. If you work from 9 to 5, for example, in a normal job, you have to commit to coming home and learning more and not lazing around watching TV.
Basically, don't make money for someone else from 9 to 5 and then come home and not work on your own goals. I'm 29 years old and I'm switching from Finance (BA in Accounting, Financial Analyst) eCommerce (had an online shop for 2 years) to programming (starting a new degree in Software Engineering). It will probably cost me to learn new things and find a new job, but you know what is more difficult? Not doing it and regretting it for the rest of my life. There is nothing wrong with learning to program in your spare time for fun, even if you don't intend to pursue a career.
I recommend it, as it teaches you valuable general life skills such as problem solving, planning and logical thinking. It can also be an interesting and fulfilling hobby. There's nothing like being able to bring your thoughts to life at the touch of a key. If you like building things, you might find programming fun.
I know I do: I enjoy making things, programming things, learning about the intrinsic theory and fundamentals of computer science. I find both the programming itself and what you can do with it fascinating. Almost everything I do nowadays is related to computer science and technology in some way. I started learning web design on my own, which taught me some valuable lessons in syntax and very basic coding ideologies through HTML and CSS.
So is C or Python or whatever the best programming language to learn, or is it necessary to learn several, and is Codecademy really the best place to start? I've also heard that MIT offers free courses. I did raw HTML and CSS for it, but they told me to transfer the code to react and so I learned it and did it the hard way. I started learning to code as a way to stop playing games and because I find the concept of programming mysterious and magical. For example, if I wanted to contribute to the medical industry, the time I invested in learning to code probably won't be enough: I will have to seek to learn more about mathematics, biology, medicine, etc.
I learned a good bit of SQL on the job as a business analyst and started learning Python in my spare time. I agree about not having to learn to program and rather understand the computing environment, but I think it's more about learning to think logically. Eventually, you will learn database technologies like SQL and NoSQL, but don't worry too much because when you learn to program, you will learn them out of necessity. You'll learn how to have your own website hosted for free on Google App Engine, but you'll also learn how to avoid the common pitfalls it took to get Reddit to where it is today, among other things.
As long as you're in decent health and alert, you could learn to code like an 80-year-old. As someone who is currently in his second year of software engineering, I can tell you that you don't need to go to university to learn to code. So what's all this endless talk about everyone learning to code that seems to be happening everywhere? Video lectures, finger exercises, a weekly project and a great discussion forum help create a much better learning environment than coding academia. I'm also going to say I don't see coding as an easy way to get a job that makes me a ton of money, I understand it's a career filled with people much smarter than me making their whole lives, but my mentality is because of my situation I don't have the means to go to college, learn to be a plumbing engineer, etc.