In my previous post, I said that Coding Schools are not the best value for your money.
Why is that? Is it because the program information is not valuable? Is it because the completion certificate is worthless? Is it the drop out rate.
None of those issues is the problem. The content is valuable. The instructors are from good to extremely great. But… just because someone is teaching doesn’t mean everyone is learning.
We all learn differently and at a different pace. The problem with any classroom is that some students will be in the slow track and others will be on the fast track and everyone else somewhere in the middle. The slow trackers will not be able to keep up with the fast-trackers or even with the average tracker.
Also, some schools are better than others. There are many coding schools. Be careful of the one you choose. Some have a good track record of employment while others don’t or lack the data to support it. But overall, I think there are way too many coding schools and it appears that on average they are not well suited for the average person.
The problem of having groups with different learning paces also occurs in regular college. However, a college course runs at a much slower pace than a coding school does, so you will have a better chance of catching up. In regular college, many students make the same mistake by enrolling in too many courses at one time. We will talk more about this further down, but for now, let’s examine the coding school.
You may still be able to finish the course. However, your results will not be as good. Some schools have excellent employment track records. I would attend one with a transparent and good employment record if your heart is set on attending. However, sometimes those may be a lot harder to enter. And you may be able to work really hard to get in. Just remember that if the prereqs are hard, the actual curriculum will be much harder. So… what do you do? Give up? Of course not.
There is yet a better way to learn to code.
Take one or two classes as a non-degree plan at a local college. Just make sure it’s a good college. One class would actually be the best.
I did this many years ago when I went back to school to learn about creating video games.
I took three classes related to programming in three semesters. To the outsiders looking in, they might think “what a waste?! 9 credit hours in 3 semesters?! You could have completed 36+ credit hours in the same amount of time.”. I have to ask though…. are you going to school to learn or are you going for points and piece of paper?
Sure, in 3 semesters a normal full-time student can complete a minimum of 36 semester hours. And what would those classes consist of? Probably a mix of the common core classes like history, English, Math, Psychology and a few computer classes. Probably the same number of computer-related classes, anywhere from 3-6. Not that those classes are not important. Not the case at all. They just may not be as important for your career. But let’s assume they were. In that case, you are still diluting your curriculum efforts with too many obligations.
The problem with that is that you are not learning as much. Instead, you are doing the bare minimum in each class to get the highest grade possible. High grades do not equate to solid understanding. After all, professors tend to curve exams. If everyone does bad then the standards are lowered. And instead of you really immersing yourself in the material, you will wind up with points.
Points are useless. I’ve seen one too many students with CS and CIS degrees that can’t get a job in the field. Or that end up with alternate peripheral jobs because they didn’t grasp the material all that well. Sometimes they end up working at a crappy employer because they can’t impress the better employer.
When I took those three classes I ended up creating some pretty awesome games. While most of the students were just barely scratching the surface trying to balance this class with the rest of there load, I was getting a better understanding through actual practice. I was understanding why the book taught the techniques that it taught.
Just look at how this approach even helped Steve Jobs. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/12/06/high-tech-dropouts-misinterpret-steve-jobs-advice/#2d3bca147fe0
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. A college degree has value. If nothing else it will open doors that may not otherwise be available. The same goes for coding schools. Graduating from a coding school will also open doors. It can even have more value if you pay attention and really immerse yourself in learning. You only get out of it what you put into it. But, college can be really expensive and take a very long time, if you don’t have free time and monetary resources to fund it.
Going the self-taught route does have its drawbacks, knowledge alone may not open as many doors. It may be a deal breaker for many employers to hire someone without a degree or a coding school completion certificate.
So there you are… in a catch 22. You can either get really good at programming or get a piece of paper. Some people can pull off both. And you can pull off both as well.
So what do you do? I think things will change in the future when knowledge will be more important than the degree, but as it stands right now the degree is the proof that you are trainable.
While I believe that you can teach yourself everything you need to know. There is just something about that piece of paper that employers will not let go of. I think this probably has a lot to do with the fact that most employers are not secure about their abilities to asses an individual’s knowledge. There are other reasons sometimes. For example, a contract between parties may dictate that the position requires this type of degree.
So what is the bottom line? Prepare seriously and rigorously for several months and I do mean several and I do mean seriously and rigorously before you go to coding school. Or take some college courses before you go to coding school.
You can also go the completely self-taught route. There is work out there but you must have the mindset that you are willing to knock on a lot of doors to follow your dreams.
So how do you pick a good coding school? Stay tuned and I will give you my opinion on the ones that I believe are good.