Should you attend a Coding Bootcamp?
So you are probably wondering if you should attend a coding or software engineering bootcamp over other alternatives. I'll explain some advantages and disadvantages and give my reason for choosing to do so instead of college.
Basic Reasons to attend
Maybe you’ve been out of the coding world for a while and want to brush up on all your skills and knowledge but can’t do it alone or need a faster method, then this is an excellent way to do so, though a bit pricy.
Another good reason I found, is showing that you finished some kind of recognized schooling., looks good on your resume and also helps you network and connect with a lot of people in the field.
If other methods are not working or don’t provide the discipline pressure you need to learn efficiently, it’s also a great idea to attend.
More Reasons to attend
So where it can get hard to decide is when you have to decide between choices that aren’t too far from each other or if the other options have advantages.
One such would be that you can learn for free or a lot cheaper by yourself. If you have the discipline and are willing to dedicate the next 6–12 months really diving into it, I believe it can absolutely be done. However, with a coding bootcamp it is much more efficient since they already did the research on what you need to learn. They map out the whole program for you, every step of the way, and keep you on pace to finish in usually 3–6 months depending on the program and school.
Another thing for many to consider is a coding bootcamp vs college. If you have the money and the time it can be really hard to decide, and understandably so because I think they both have their place. The bootcamp puts you under a lot of pressure but for many, this is the only way to stay focused, especially for procrastinators that need to be pressured by constant deadlines every day. The bootcamp also leaves out all the irrelevant things like English, Biology, etc. that college forces you to waste your time, money, and energy on. College however may be a better choice for some if you need the much slower paced program. 4 years vs 3 months is a big difference.
However, something to really consider is how you're investing your time. While yes you have all the time in the world, while attending college, to polish up your projects and resume, and even do a bunch of your own projects, that's over 3 years that could otherwise be spent working, meaning that after 4 years, a college student will be looking for a total entry position whereas the bootcamp student could be looking for a mid-senior, senior position, or an entry position at a big company by then due to work experience.
Lastly, and I will go further into detail on this point further down, coding bootcamps have a lot of hands on work and prioritize you being able to independently make whatever program, algorithm, website, or feature you need. Also, the hands on approach could really help people learn if they struggle with the traditional methods of college.
Reasons Not to attend
Without a doubt, one of the things that you need to prepare for is the feeling of being lost. The workload is a lot to handle and because of how difficult it is to wrap your head around many of the concepts and how its implemented, you will often be left feeling completely lost. You do have classmates and instructors that will 100% help you out and a lot of provided information, documentation, and projects that are also a huge help.
The difficulty of learning code is just as hard in any method you use however because of how fast paced the course is and how much you need to get done, it can be very stressful. Though you will be more than comfortable and ready to tackle any challenge in no time as long as you deal with the stress and push through. I knew a handful of people that quit within the first week and it’s a shame that they didn't see it through to realize that it gets much easier but many people just can’t handle it and that might be a reason to find a different way to learn.
Another reason not to go is if your current job is already sponsoring you to attend college or some other course. In that case, your company will give you a higher position if you just do what they say even if that means that you learn less in the process.
Like the previous ones, it is a very situational choice that varies based on many things. Maybe you have to work a full time job and can’t take off 3 months to do a bootcamp or maybe you aren't yet sure if you want a career in tech and like the safety of being able to switch majors in college. It all comes down to your goals and situation, so no matter what anyone thinks, the choice is yours.
Why I attended a Coding Bootcamp
So I attended a Tech College and majored in computer science for a year. In that time I spoke to a lot of the 3rd and 4th year students about what they have learned throughout all their years. A shockingly common thing they said was that they are about to graduate and they barely know how to apply their knowledge and make something on their own. I asked more and studied my own coding classes and realized that was due to the ‘theory vs the hands on’ approach.
So what do I mean by this? For example, college might teach you about a for loop and all its components. It’ll teach you all the fancy names, its origin, and why you should use it but then leave you in the dark. It always seems that you learn what you need to know but it's all just theory. The only other time it's used is to tick a multiple-choice answer on that topic for the tests that follow.
Now you could be asking, well why not just implement it yourself and experiment? Yes, you absolutely should but at that point, you're doing 80% of the work alone because anyone that can code will tell you that you only learn from doing it over and over again. So why spend time on useless theory when you can just work on it hands on all day every day with small and big projects that really make you use your brain to figure it out and actually understand it in the way you're supposed to. That alternative would be the coding bootcamp. And that is one of the reasons I personally made the switch. I am in no rush to get a job as I am 19 and even though I loved the social aspect of college, there were too many reasons to leave.
Another big reason to me was the overwhelming amount of irrelevant classes I had to take, like beginner, intermediate, and advanced Biology, which made no sense to me. I will happily learn any field, even Biology if my job or projects could benefit from it, but in college, there is a very high chance I will just forget everything after finals and never use it just like everyone else in college that takes subjects they are forced into. Because of how irrelevant it was, I also found myself stressing and studying more for those subjects than what I actually went to college for, because when you have no interest in that subject it is a lot harder to focus and actually remember everything they’re trying to teach.
I also considered self teaching but I found that setting my own deadlines would be a disaster since I would just procrastinate and waste time. Speaking of time I really loved the fact that I could be done with school in 3 months. I spent my whole life in school and in just 3 months I could finally start my life. That was something that I saw as a plus and a way to get ahead of the game.
So to conclude, should you attend a coding bootcamp? In my opinion, if you can handle the large workload, absolutely yes! However, each method has its advantages and disadvantages that vary in importance for each person as well as some things that just do not work with some people. Overall, the price, time, and effort invested generally seems to be the best balance and most efficient way to get into a career in Software development or tech in general.