A fine art degree and a degree in a field such as Computer Science (CS) are not really the same. CS is a field where earning a BA is, to a large degree, a technical exercise. The technical aspects of photography are relatively limited, and you spend a lot more time learning to express yourself, which is a lot harder than it seems.
One thing that frustrates a lot of technically minded people about photography is the lack of correct answers. You can't benchmark ideas or run unit tests against expression. There is a complete and total absence of metrics. Thus, what a good school gives you is:
- Completely removes you from your comfort zone. Suddenly, nobody who sees your photography has any interest in making you feel better about yourself.
- An education in art in general, and in older and newer art photography.
- The tools you need to define and express your vision.
- How to talk about your work, accept criticism and criticize the work of others. The peer review aspect is absolutely critical. And, in the end, you learn how to defend your ideas and concepts.
- Varying viewpoints from people who are absolutely not afraid to share them: your professors.
- A community of photographers. This kicks your ass in a way no online community ever will because, after the first year, everybody is at least good and everybody knows how to talk about photography. Being able to discuss your projects with people who are able to understand them is absolutely amazing.
- It forces you to take pictures that you would never take otherwise. I can't stress how important this is.
The internet suffers from what I describe as the photography echo chamber. People get waaaaaaay too caught up on gear and technical minutiae, on post-processing tutorials. Few of your forum peers will have looked at an album or a photography show that wasn't on the internet. For many of them, the best place to go for photography is flickr. Flickr's fine for what it is, but it's like learning about music by listening to local cover bands.
Besides, people like to be nice on the internet, because if they're not nice, they are often branded as trolls. For most of the photography I see online, there's no way to be nice without lying. Most pictures, even the ones people ask opinions on, are snapshots in the most derogatory sense of the word. You learn that fixing the technical problems with an image usually does nothing for the image, because most problems aren't technical, they're ones of vision (or rather, a lack of it.)
I spent a good couple of years "learning about photography" online. Then I went to art school and 3 months in, I realized that I'd really spent 4 years learning about cameras and lenses. The two years I spent in school taught me so much, I recommend some sort of formal training to everybody and anybody serious about expressing themselves through photography.