Here are some things I would do differently:
- Don't make money a goal: it's a helpful tool that allows you to spend your time making more art. But if money is your end-goal/reward, art will be very, very disappointing. I theoretically know this, but I occasionally forget, so it's a good reminder.
- Your portfolio isn't the best work ever, it's the best you can do at the time: this means you need to keep it fresh and up-to-date, which means you also need to keep improving and learning!
- Don't pay $$$$ for a degree, pay for experiences and connections. I used to feel really insecure about not having a "high enough" degree in my field, but it very rarely comes up when I speak to clients. If I can do the work, then that's good enough for them. (Not bashing schools, just saying that a solid work ethic and dedication to craftsmanship are more important than a piece of paper. If your school can connect you to studios, publishers, etc, then go for it! But you'll still need to show work to make it happen.)
Best of luck as you transition!! I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible for you!