Hey, sonny boy, you're going to be in the identical situation sooner than you think. By then it really won't matter what your formal education was. Only the latest, most modern programming techniques will matter. You may have saved the entire world from starvation, but what are you doing lately?
HR is HR. In my experience they are total airheads who slept their way through college, we call that 'sleeping for profit.' Now they have a degree, and they just can't imagine how everyone else who has a functioning brain cell doesn't have one too. They can't figure out the number pad on the keyboard, but they carry themselves loftily and have *significant* opinions.
HR departments have killed more companies than anyone would believe. Their focus is entirely wrong, not just misunderstood, but wrong. I say this as someone who's fully employed–by a company that actually listened when I gave them the compacted/redacted story of my professional life. I've never had a negative performance review, and this year I didn't even have one. Hrmmmmust have been so positive my boss would have flushed crimson.
Today at lunch my boss talked about the acquisition of a Raspberry Pi, just to annoy those people who chronically leave a certain door open, in violation of every conceivable security protocol. If it was just an IT room, we'd have them fired. But we share the room with them and it's convenient for them to prop the door open. I only mention this because pretty much everything else is running so smoothly, that this is the level my boss is cogitating on and suggesting projects for me.
Old people are wise, young folks. We are intelligent, kind, sharing, and if you cross usincredibly treacherous. You'll be on the ground, writhing in pain before you realize you've been cut off at the knees. For us it's pure economic necessity, plus the plain and pure desire to keep young whippersnappers in their place until they learn to act as adults.