How important is self-teaching prior to entering the programming world?

This Q&A is part of a biweekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 80+ Q&A sites.

ThePlan asks:

I’m 16. I started programming about a year ago when I was about to start high-school. I’m going for a career in programming, and I’m doing my best to learn as much as I can. When I first started, I learned the basics of C++ from a book and I started to learn things by myself from there on. Nowadays I’m much more experienced than I was a year ago. I knew I had to study by myself because high-school won’t (likely) teach me anything valuable about programming, and I want to be prepared.

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Ars Technica » Technology Lab

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