Should I go to college for programming?
It is not a must to go to college for programming. There are many other ways in which you can become a programmer.
In today’s insight, we are going to understand whether you should or should not go to college to learn programming.
There are basically three paths that you can take to become a programmer, you can choose to become a self-taught programmer using thousands of free resources available online, you can attend a Bootcamp or you can go to university and study computer science or related courses.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the paths you choose. We are going to examine each one of them to help you understand what fits you best.
ADVANTAGES OF GOING TO COLLEGE FOR PROGRAMMING
When you go to university to learn programming, you are most likely going to study Computer Science.
You can major in different fields of computer science such as Software Engineering, Computer Systems Engineering, Networking, etc. here are some of the advantages;
EXPOSURE: One of the advantages of studying at college is wide exposure to your program of study.
In your 3 to 4 years of study, you will be exposed to operating Systems, Data Structures and algorithms, Electronics, Math, Management, Graphics, and networks to name a few.
This exposure to a lot of courses will help you to have a broader understanding of how computers work.
It will also help you improve your non-technical skills such as communication, leadership, and management skills.
DEFINED CURRICULUM: Each university has a set curriculum for a program you are doing, this will help you to know what to learn and what to leave out.
A curriculum will guide you on the general path of your program and what to expect going forward.
SUPPORT AVAILABLE: In university, you will have access to Professors who are experts in your field, they can help you clear your doubts and provide you with expert knowledge. You can also be helped by your coursemates.
A DEGREE: A degree that you graduate with from university can speak for you where you fall short in some cases.
Your degree will still be a mark of evidence that you are a trained programmer for all of your life after graduation.
In Some countries, a computer science degree is needed to work as a developer, this is a great advantage for college graduates.
DISADVANTAGES OF GOING TO COLLEGE FOR PROGRAMMING
There are off-course some disadvantages of going to university to learn programming, here are some of them;
EXPENSIVE: tertiary education is hugely expensive; you will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to become a programmer.
Others will acquire thousands of debts in student loans which are a thorn in the flesh when paying back.
TIME: It takes a lot of time to finish a degree program, three to four years in most cases.
That is a lot of time, especially if all you want to learn is say Web Development.
TOO BROAD: Universities are notorious for providing more courses than you ever need, (Imagine I had to take a Biology class en route to studying Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering).
You will be required to take classes that you will never apply in your lifetime.
Because programs can be too broad, there are some computer science graduates who cannot write a simple To-do list in any programming language.
In light of these, you can weigh whether to go to university or not for programming.
Let’s further look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a self-taught programmer.
ADVANTAGES OF BEING A SELF-TAUGHT PROGRAMMER
You can learn programming by teaching yourself using free resources available online.
Here are some of the advantages of being self-taught.
SAVE MONEY: You can learn programming for free on youtube and other free online platforms.
Youtube has amazing programming channels that provide great content. Some of the best include FreeCodeCamp, The Net Ninja, Traversy Media, Acadamind, Programming Knowledge, etc.
You can also pay for courses on Udemy, Udacity, Skillshare, etc. Some of the courses on these platforms are far much better than those offered at universities.
SAVE TIME: If you are consistent and disciplined, you can save a lot of time and learn a lot within a short period of time.
You don’t have to take years to become a good programmer. You can learn more in our article Tips to Become a Better Programmer.
CHOOSE YOUR PATH: As a self-taught programmer, you can choose your own programming path to focus on, which will save you a lot of time and resources.
Instead of focusing on the entire broad Computer Science field, you can just focus on either of the following; Web Development, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Systems Programming, Game Development, etc.
Focusing on one field at a time will help you to put together all the tools you need to effectively learn.
FLEXIBILITY: Being self-taught is more flexible than being fully in University, you can learn at your own time, choose your own instructors, and your own programming path, you set your own deadlines, no exams, etc. Although some of these can be weaknesses, the flexibility is truly there.
DISADVANTAGES OF BEING SELF-TAUGHT
Being self-taught comes with its own disadvantages, here are some of them;
NO CURRICULUM: When you are just starting out, you may not know what to learn in the absence of a curriculum.
It is possible to learn things that are not relevant in the absence of guidance.
NO ACCOUNTABILITY: When you are learning on your own terms, it is hard to be accountable, you will need a great deal of discipline to keep learning, otherwise you might just give up when it becomes hard and there is no one to be accountable to except yourself.
NO RECOGNITION: When you graduate from University, you will be given a degree as a recognition by the University, but when you are self-taught, you must unrelentingly seek recognition on your own.
You must put out a lot of work and prove yourself through projects to be acknowledged as a developer.
Recognition for self-taught developers does not come easy. You will have to work your way up to it.
Thankfully, many programmers have done it and they are on huge demand in the tech industry.
It gives a lot of hope to self-taught programmers. Programmers such as Brad Traversy of Traversy Media are self-taught and highly sought after.
JOBS MAY BE HARD TO GET: In some countries, you can get a job as a developer even without a CS degree as long as your work can speak for you.
In some other countries, however, a computer science degree is a must to be employed as a developer.
To get a job as a developer in most companies without a degree, you will have to show that you are, maybe twice or thrice more capable than the one with a computer science degree. It is not going to be easy.
BOOTCAMPS FOR LEARNING PROGRAMMING
You can also attend Bootcamps to learn programming, Bootcamps are mostly fast-tracked, there is a curriculum to follow and coaches to help you through the program.
Most Bootcamp programs run anywhere from three months to a year.
Bootcamps are highly practical and focus on filling the gaps in the industry.
Bootcamps even though are very expensive; they are a great way to learn an in-demand skill quickly.
In light of what we have looked at, it can be seen that it’s not a must to go to college for programming.
Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each path, you can easily choose which path to take looking at your priorities.
If you have cash and you want to learn the in-demand tech skills quickly, go for Bootcamps.
If you want to save on money and time, be self-taught. If you want the security and the benefits that come with a degree, go to University.