Should I go to a coding bootcamp or College?
By Jeremy Botta Skill Distillery Alumni.
Programming bootcamps are rapidly becoming a replacement for a college degree. Each has its benefits and disadvantages, so it is important to make an informed decision so that you can take the path that works best for your situation. When trying to decide which is right for you, you need to determine which pace you would like to take.
Pacing is the most striking difference between a bootcamp and college. By attending a bootcamp, you can get out into the workforce within a few months, whereas college works in the time frame of years. Bootcamps like Skill Distillery are able to teach on a shorter time frame by focusing on the skills that employers are looking for. There is no general education. There are no distractions. There is no teaching of theory that is not applicable in an actual coding environment.
That is not to say that college is simply wasting time, however. Pursuing a degree in Computer Science will give you a better understanding of why programs are laid out the way they are. It will teach you things like calculating time complexity to determine how efficient your code is. It will give you an in depth overview of data structures and when each is most appropriate. Essentially, college teaches the ‘why,’ and a bootcamp teaches the ‘how.’
So, which way do you want to learn? If your goal is to produce functional code in a short timeframe, a programming bootcamp is probably for you.
During my time in college, one of the biggest complaints I had was how little time I spent on actually learning programming. With all the general education classes, I was left with only around eight hours per week for programming classes. At Skill Distillery, that eight hours turned into forty. Keeping such a focus allowed me to feel that constant sense of forward progression that I really wanted. It’s much easier to solidify your learning when you will be continuing with the same material and teacher the next day.
My programming courses in college were either two or three days per week as opposed to the five that Skill Distillery runs. Eliminating these breaks between classes allowed the coursework to flow much more smoothly and facilitated a real understanding of the material. It is amazing how much you can learn about programming when it is all you focus on for four months.
Colleges and bootcamps each have different goals in mind for their students and tailor their curriculum to fit those goals. The most important step in determining which to attend is figuring out which set of goals most closely align with your own.
While attending a bootcamp is difficult, having the class only last a few months makes it so that you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel. College had always made me antsy because I knew that I always had so much longer to go. Sitting in the first classes and knowing that I still had four years to go before I was suitable to join the workforce was too much for me.
There is also a lot to be said about the curriculum being planned out in a linear path. In college, whenever I started a new class, it would be with a new teacher who may or may not have had any idea of what was taught in the previous class. This resulted in a lot of redundancy when the same material would be retaught from class to class for the people who may have missed it. It also resulted in gaps when a teacher would assume that certain concepts would have been taught in a previous class, even though they were not.
Skill Distillery and other programming bootcamps have a more comprehensive curriculum. In a bootcamp, all students attend the same classes, and the teachers know exactly what was taught earlier in the course. This cohesiveness ended up being my favorite aspect of attending a bootcamp.
Colleges and bootcamps both have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Bootcamps require less of a time commitment, require more dedication, and teach the technologies which are being used in the workforce today. Colleges require a much longer period of time and teach the concepts which are core to Computer Science. Figure out what you want to learn and how much time you want to spend learning, and then you will know which path is right for you.