Welcome its good to have you here I hope you stick around and show off some art and become a valuable part of the community =)
Be prepared as I am about to sand blast you. It's not to be mean but it is to prepare you and make sure your head is in the right place.
8 months ago I landed my first job with no shipped titles under my belt and not a degree to my name. It wasn't easy but it can be done. We have an opening for a lead character artist, if the person can show they can do the job degree or no degree, shipped titles or no shipped titles, the job is theirs.
There has been much debate on the subject and for the most part I think we (polycount) agrees that having a degree only gets you access to programs and time with people who know more about them than you. It's a chance to learn and show off the talent you already have, it is not a guaranteed in. What gets you in is artistic skill and the ability to apply that to games.
I personally think that you don't need to blow an ass load of cash on a structured program when there are so few that actually give you a chance to learn the skills you need. Being able to teach yourself is a valuable skill in an industry that changes pretty often and shouldn't be over looked. Being self taught doesn't come with official credentials but you have a skill to keep yourself up to date and when your neighbor artists are playing WoW in there down time you might be coming up with better ways to improve your companies pipeline.
When you start applying your portfolio needs to be a beacon that shines two things, artistic skill and knowledge of how the industry works. Without showing them those two things you're screwed and it doesn't matter how many degrees you have if you don't have talent and don't know at least the over all principles of making games.
The industry is in need of well qualified Artists
who already know it is demanding work. Everyone that pissed their high school career away playing games who don't have any actual skills to land a 'real job' first, go for an industry job thinking "dood I can still be a dead beat slacker if I just get a game industry job. Playing games is just like making them right!? I want to be an artist, sure I have zero artistic talent and don't want to learn but that shouldn't stop me should it? I wantzor the grud job where I do nothign and thems give me sports cars and a phat pad!"
The most used marker is skill, you could have zero titles shipped and still be better than 50% of the artists out there. Companies are looking for someone who is a good artist and can hit the ground running with very little to no training. Having shipped titles is a good marker of this but so is a great portfolio, knowing what you are in for and knowing how most companies build games is a must when you walk into the interview. When a company is looking for people with shipped titles under their belt, what they are really saying is 'we don't want pie in the sky noobs who think working in games is going to be like a trip to a candy factory.'
Knowing what they are going to teach you will give you a chance to practice those skills and make your class work stand out. I don't know anyone that got a job off the first model they make, and practice has a way of making people better. Artistic talent, the artist eye has the ability to translate to whatever medium you are working in. I would say start drawing again, look over online painting tutorials, read books like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
and dust off your talent because it is what will get you thru the courses and into the industry. Good luck feel free to post your art here for crits! Don't take offense to them, most people here post crits to make you a better artist. There are plenty of other boards that like to blow smoke and make people feel warm and fuzzy about whatever you make. If someone rips your art apart its because they think you have potential and are showing you ways to improve. It is what any good teacher should do, and what most Art Directors will do.