If you want to be a photographer, it would be a pretty good idea to get some additional education. There are a variety of options to take. Here are some things to think about:
Do you want a four year degree?
Do you just want to get more photography skills?
Do you want an education that provides a "back up" ?
Is a liberal arts education important to you?
Lets go through each of those a little more thoroughly:
Four Year Degree
A four year degree will provide you with the most options - not doubt about it. It will provide you with a liberal arts education that will make generally smarter and more on the ball, there is time and opportunity to take classes for a back-up career, and you can also get a good photography education.
The down side to this is: cost - depending on where you go of course, a four year education will usually cost double what a two year education would. You will also be taking a lot of classes that appear to have nothing to do with photography.
Everybody is different.If you feel like there is no way you can possible take another english, psychology, or math class, the four year education might not be for you. When I got out of high scholl I didn't feel like I ever wanted to step into another school again. Consequently I spend 10 years working on an assembly line in a cabinet factory. During the weekends I played in bar bands, and for fun I took pictures. At some point I got tired of not having many options and went back to school for that four year degree.
Two Year Degree
You can use this a couple of different ways. If your goal is to get a four year degree, you can get your GUR's (general university requirements) at a two year community college, then transfer to a four year college (get the AA degree). This route is generally cheaper (especially if you continue living at home), and usually leads to a higher success rate.You will be taking the classes that everybody takes the first couple of years in college (math,science,english,etc.), and then when you go to the four year college you will be taking the classes you will be majoring in, like art and photography. I went to TCC and got an AA degree and then it was off to Western for an Art Ed degree. I was also a community college teacher for five years and saw how well it worked for people.
If your goal isn't to get a four year degree there are two year photography programs available. The two years will be mostly photography or photography related classes. Some schools in the area are: Seattle Central Community College, and The Art Institute of Seattle. The art institute is a lot more expensive. If you think you want to go there come talk to me first.
The Big Picture
In the end it all boils down to your portfolio. It is the quality of your work, your personality, how you look, and who you know that will get you a job. Go to the school that will help you develop the skills to get the job you are looking for. I know a lot of photographers who have gone to good schools, bad schools and no schools who are financially successful. They all have one thing in common - they all are obsessed with making good photographs. If you feel you have that obsession, and are willing to do the work necessary, you can be successful too.
PS - big school loans aren't necessarily a good thing. I used to share a studio with a guy who went to PLU on loans. After he graduated he used to sleep on the couch in our studio and take showers at the YMCA because he couldn't afford to pay for an apartment. When you are in school it is easy to think you will be getting a high paying job but the reality is often different.