I’ve been freelancing during high school. Getting the first freelance jobs was a bit difficult, because I didn’t know where to start, and the competition on Odesk (formerly Upwork) was high. It’s probably much higher now. After that it became easier, but required building a network of regular customers.
I got into university (you can get a degree for free where I live, as long as your exam scores are high enough), but dropped out after realizing they don’t teach anything I didn’t already know or couldn’t learn myself (I think it’s pretty much the same everywhere: some CS, some calculus and algebra, some languages, SQL, architecture and algorithm basics). Some of the teachers clearly had little industry experience, and those that had it weren’t always good at teaching. There was a lot of compulsory irrelevant stuff like finance.
In retrospective, I think getting the first freelance jobs was the hardest part. As long as you network with lots of people, you can quickly find a job at any time.