Short answer: yes, its a waste of money in the context of what you are asking, but there are caveats. You will have to decide what makes sense to you.
I don't like talking about myself much, but it might be useful to you so here it is. Excuse me if it comes off as bragging. I don't know how to talk about myself and avoid that appearance.
Let me lay down some of my personal timeline for you.
2007, May - Graduate K-State (EE)
2009, December - Start teaching myself Java so I can get a job at BugLabs
2010, May - Attend Big Omaha, affirm that I should be an entrepreneur
2010, Sept (I think) - Startup Organizer Summit in KC, meet tons of people
2010, October - Start curating KC edition of StartupDigest
2011, March - Start writing for Silicon Prairie News
2011, March - Attend SXSW for the first time
2011, August - Close on home sale, move into parents basement
2013, May - Attend Big Omaha 5, take shirt off on stage during Noah Kagan’s talk
I am an introvert. SXSW takes everything out of me emotionally within 48 hours. But I did grow up in a military family and I learned to meet people.
Over the course of the past 3 years, I have spent two of them intentionally going out of my way to meet people. I knew I needed to have a network but I didn't know anyone, so I went out and got it. I count lots of fellow entrepreneurs from all over the globe as friends (some of them are commenting and active here on Clarity). I have had 2 hour sitdowns with internet famous people to give me advice. Even what is seemingly random stuff, like the Noah Kagan Big Omaha talk, formed the basis for a relationship.
If you don't want or can't put in the time to do it the old fashioned way (pressing the flesh, as my sales mentor would say), then go to school. But you can get other things done during those two years and still end up with a kickass network if you want to.
If you want pointers about how to build relationships, or just more detail, feel free to schedule a call. Cheers!