Yes, a broad liberal arts education and/or business education would not only be good for a career in photography or any other field, but would make you a more knowledgeable citizen as well. I had zero courses in photography in college and believe they would have been largely a waste of time if I had. I believe photographic skills can be learned through workshops and self-taught, especially now that photography is easier than ever in the the digital world. My concern for anyone going into photography now is that it has become so easy nearly anyone can do it and call themselves a professional. And the proliferation of photographers has made the business much more competitive and driven down earnings. Is it still possible to make a living at it? I'd guess it's possible for a few if they are very resourceful and can offer a unique vision combined with acute business savvy.
Four years of college would be good for ANY career! (Exclamation point)
I got my start as a photographer for my college newspaper and yearbook. It taught me to see things and to see and appreciate light, shadow and color. But my college diploma has been the biggest help to me over the years. After college, I worked in the darkroom of a portrait studio n (they had dark rooms then), was assistant to an commercial photographer until I was drafted into the army (they had the draft then) where I was an army combat photographer, and became a buyer for the camera department of a retail store.
It turned out that, while I loved photography, I had a difficult time finding a way to make a good living from it. Few do. But the college degree got me into retail buying (camera equipment and film, radios, records, TVs, stereos) and, later, into being a stockbroker. I continued to enjoy photography, mostly travel and family photos during my 40+ working years. I'm retired now with a good retirement nest-egg and have started my own portrait business doing what I love without the necessity of feeding a family.
It's been a great 50 years since I graduated from high school and photography has been a big part of that. But get a degree in something -- anything. You'll use it. Things change. When I graduated from high school there was TV but only in black and white on 18 inch screens, there was no internet and no pocket-sized phones. Enormous changes! And you can expect the same during your career.
A four year degree would certainly beneficial if you at least minored on one associated area. Graphic arts, web design, marketing, and even more importantly business may be good choices depending where your interest lay in terms of your talents and goals. Your core photography curriculum should allow you to develop a unique style of your own. Things to consider when you graduate may be do you want to start working on your own or potentially spend some time working within a company. The key here is to make yourself as appealing as possible to as large as an audience as possible which includes potential employers.
Whatever your choice, I would strongly recommend taking business and marketing along with any other course work. This would be true regardless of what area of the country you may choose to work.
Yes, 4 years of college would be great for photography.
Photography is only a little about technique and is a lot about your interpretation of and attitude towards the world. If you have an education where you learn to read, communicate, and understand human nature, you'll be a better photographer in my opinion. I use math, accounting, writing, human psychology, etc. in my photography business. Most 4 year liberal arts schools offer photography courses. You might also find that there's some other area you're more interested in.
A college degree is a valuable tool regardless of what you choose to do for a living. If you're interested in photography, I recommend getting a liberal arts degree and pick up photo classes while in school. I'm
not a believer in a 4 year degree in photography. While you're attending school, you can research photography careers and understand what that takes to make a living.