Most colleges at least make you pass a minimum of 100 to 130 semester hours. At all the schools I was interested in attending, a schedule was 12 to 20 semester hours each semester. An hour's credit meant an hour in class and typically two hours of outside work each week. That's 36 to 60 hours a week for 2.5 to 5 years.
Where I went to school, every professor thought their classes were more important than the others, so a credit hour actually meant about 4-5 hours per week. That's 48 to 100 hours of work each week. Most people got a minor or a second major, and did about 15 credit hours a semester for 8 to 12 semesters.
I, personally, left early due to illness and started my career with no degree once I was well. I don't think people who got their degrees are silly, though. I'd like to go back and finish a Bachelor's degree, but probably in a different field now.
Most of the entry-level certificates require a bright person a month or less of study in their spare time. Yet people in the HR department don't know that. They see "A+, Network+, CNA, CCNA, BrainBench Perl, BrainBench PHP, BrainBench HTML", and they often think they're getting a well-rounded network and web development guru. Little do they know that some of those are drop-the-hot-rock easy and others can be done by any random friend of yours on your behalf with a reference open in another window.
Some certifications do mean something. The CCIE is one. The bar exam for a state is another. A college degree means a lot in most cases, although the college and the student are both variables in just how much.
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