I was one of those who did CS in the mid 90's and dropped out after two years, in my case due to money. I was stuck working on-campus, and even the highest paying job on campus under their work hour restrictions wasn't enough.
I moved back home, got an entry level job, and advanced very quickly. By the time my friends finished their degrees I was making a good salary while they spent years working help desks for minimum wage.
To some extent, I got lucky. I found the right employer at the right time, before the first big 'bubble burst' in the IT world.
Years later after an acquisition and facing eventual layoffs, I spent at least a year looking for a job. I had two places where former co-workers were at that could provide great references and increase my odds. One was an energy company who absolutely would not even look at a resume that didn't have a degree on it. Even their cable monkeys had to have a BS at minimum. Another was a financial institution who at least granted me an interview as a courtesy to my former co-worker but had absolutely no intentions of hiring anyone without a degree.
I tried a major hosting company. It sounded like I was set for the job, though I didn't like much of what I saw--the general staffing there looked like a freshman dorm on laundry day. That didn't go--apparently they didn't want any more senior staffers, just more college kids for minimum wage.
I finally ended up with a software vendor we used who knew my work well, and advanced from there.
I've had people trying to get me to sign up for jobs at newer government data centers that opened up in the area recently. No go there--no job anywhere near my salary level without a degree.
Big Corporate America has too many unqualified screeners in HR.
Small Corporate America is far too concerned about having to pay an employee too much, and are willing to sacrifice what they get for it. Eventually this will come to a head, just like outsourcing to India. When you have to pay ten kids $8 an hour to do what one qualified person making $35 an hour could do you either learn that lesson and thrive, or stick to your ways and die.