After considering the role "pop" media and education has to play in the design field, I have a very strong mixed opinion.
Education, of course, is very important. As a slightly older student who has some experience in the field, I realize that where the importance of education lies is a tricky line. While going to school for fine art in Los Angeles, I spent my free time remodeling condos, pizza shops, and other small businesses with a group of friends and workers. Since I was an involved art student that could operate a saw, everyone I knew wanted me to come and remodel or help them design their dream home. While I appreciated the contacts and the compliments, I felt a little uncomfortable approaching someone in a business manner, looking over their place, and giving an estimate of the work to be done. I attribute this uneasiness to the fact that while I have a good artistic eye, I really had no idea what I was doing or the proper process to take. I think that process and developing your own style is one of the biggest components of working through school (be it art or design school). Pulling yourself out of the comfort zone with people around you that have a vested interest in nurturing your personal growth and maturity is really one of the biggest plus sides of the time and effort put into college.
The other component of education is the actual degree. In real life, and especially in the art and design field, employers want to see that you have the stamina to make it through those 4 and some odd years of college; they want to see that you have the stamina to see a job through to the end. If you happen to luck out and land a killer job without (or before) getting your degree, then by all means go for it. But in reality, most employers won't even look at your resume if they see you don't at least have a bachelor in something. And once again, this is especially true in the art/design field. I think anyone can be a fly-by-night artist and luck out by putting out some cool stuff that the right people in the right place at the right time will love. But employers realize that most of the people that do this are (odd) really not the type of personality suited for the working environment. They want to see the you can go the long haul.
As for the idea of "pop" media, I real think it is a necessary evil. Wouldn't it be nice if we were still in a time where professionals did professional work, if you didn't know how to do something you hired someone that did, and photos were still taken with film? The reality is, if you want to tile your bathroom, you search a couple youtube videos, head to home depot, and get 'er done yourself. Photography, while I appriciate the field and the professionals, has moved to a place where any amature with a good smart phone can get lucky every once in a while. Everyone and their brother is throwing stuff up on the internet, and someone somewhere is bound to find something they are willing to pay for if you get enough exposure. Will this internet/media frenzy/amature to professional fad last? Probabally. Will it work individually for the long haul? I doubt it. When we spoke today about the design on the dime guy, Brice, a lot of people in class thought that he didn't deserve to be where he was because he had a limited educational background. Well, obviously he's doing something right. He's making a lot more money than any of us are right now, and he's the host of a design based television show. If it were a matter of all luck, he would have never lasted in that position. Clearly people are liking what he's doing or he would have been booted long ago.
Bringing it full circle, I think that people with a strong artist or designer eye are going to be involved in art and design even if their educated in banking (or whatever else). If people like your work, well, that's a matter of taste and presentation. And luck. I believe that schooling is for providing rules and the thought process to break them. If you can do that already and have some pull in the design world, then by all means go for it!