I'm currently in the first year of a six year bachelor's degree aiming for astrophysics. The course is a home/distance learning setup run by the Open University. While I am enjoying it thoroughly, I am aware of the academic politics that can dog professional science. So my question is thus: Upon soldiering on with the degree, then masters, and then PhD, will I be taken seriously within a professional setting given my inability to reference a leading university for my education? Will the format for my studying be "pitied"?
Edit: I suppose a bit more info may help. I'm 27,wife, 2 children, and I currently work as a full time chef, and self employed part time IT technician. I flunked my GCSEs, with no further education. The past 3 years have been a revelation for me, and I have discovered a before unexperienced love for academia; specifically, physics and astronomy. Last year I completed a 1 year OU maths brush up course, which at the time I really struggled with. This year I had a bout of madness and took the plunge for a BSc degree in astronomy. I am now loving the math within the physics so far (yet to hit calculus though!)
PhD, and even masters, is a long way off. Also, since this original post I've improved my understanding of what a PhD actually entails. So I realise that if I get there, it may well not have anything to do with the OU!
It occurs to me that a lot of my initial queries could have been avoided with a better understanding of the educational and qualification system itself. I now have a greater appreciation as to what a PhD actually is, realising that its a long way off and not necessarily needed for a fulfilling career in research.
I think trying to repair my broken education and fight my way into a worthwhile (and productive!) career is enough of challenge at the moment. There will be plenty of time later for worries concerning doctorates.
It is good to hear that there is at least an open mind towards distance educated professionals.
As has been said, if you've got it, you've got it - you just have to be ready to prove it.