“I hate when people confuse education with intelligence, you can have a bachelor’s degree and still be an idiot” – Elon Musk
Yes, it’s true. It would be difficult to secure a decent high paid programmer job without an academic degree. Knowledge and skill are the key factors that go hand in hand. But, if you really possess the required skill sets and you have what it takes to convince an interviewer, you do very well stand a chance of securing an opportunity. Academic qualification is important but certainly not indispensable when it comes to ascertaining your skills, knowledge, experience and performance.
My suggestion to you is to participate in as many live projects as possible and smartly get those incorporated into your resume as “Case Studies”. Try to specialize in one subject rather than playing with everything around that you could see about development. Do not rely completely on books. Use books for reference only.
As you grow in your career, knowledge and expertise and have more successes in life. Relax and trust in your abilities. You’ll be a standout in any interview. This will help you feel calm, cool, and collected.