The only one thing that is constant in the Universe is change itself. Lots of things have been changed in last year, particularly in the realm of education.
One year ago I started the very first on-line course of Machine Learning by prof. Andrew Ng. At that time it was a pilot, a try to make a feeling what it is like.
I've completed this course and got the most important realization - "I can do it". (given that I'm not a native English speaker, have no higher education, never studied English in a school and have Asperger's).
The second realization was that this will change everything, I mean the very way people could improve their life. In is not about grades of diplomas, it is about ability to learn online, without pouring through tons of low quality crap, without the need to filter out 95% of nonsense and annoying narcissism.
These changes are so deep that it is even hard to see.
Now, everyone could train themselves very quickly to an advanced (not an expert, it requires 10000 hours of practice) level without loosing any time. Wanna find out what is that 'Big data' buzz is all about? Close all blogs and product placements, and learn what's going on in Stanford or MIT.
Of course, someone pays the bills. This time it is corporations who need cheap but skilled workforce. With pay-walled education systems there are a huge shortage (not everyone could pay $50k/year or even could get any US visa). Now they publish the lectures (teachers got payed) and within a year or two all the major recruiting agencies will look at your list of accomplishments.
There is much better way to use this rare opportunity. Forget the grades and certs, learn to understand, to become a master in several interconnected, closely related subjects, and instead to become an employee try to apply all gained knowledge in your own startup.
This is the way out, a nice hack of the system, a chance to lift off.