Self-Taught Programmers VS College Educated. Should you go to School?

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Do you really have to go to college to become a programmer? Luckily, No. You can get a job as a programmer within a couple months of writing your first line of code. If college isn’t necessary, should you even go to school at all? In this post we’ll look at whether or not you should get a degree in the STEM fields.

You can become employable in a couple months

You can get a job in programming starting with NO DEGREE and NO EXPERIENCE in a matter of months. There are plenty of 8-14 week “Coding Bootcamps” that guarantee anywhere from $60k-100k salaries after graduating their program. So yeah, why on earth would you want to wait 4 years (While working at Mcdonalds) to get a CS degree, when you can get a job in 3 months?

College doesn’t make you smart

Having a college degree means nothing. A lot of students can go through the motions, do the bare minimum, and still get a degree. That doesn’t mean they can code, it doesn’t mean they are smarter or more capable than their self-taught counterparts. It could even be a bad thing if they’re relying on a piece of paper to get them through life. Many computer science graduates can barely even code. Don’t go to school to “get a degree”. Go to school because you enjoy learning.

Most people stop improving

No matter what field or activity, most people get to a certain level of skill, and then stop growing, despite doing that activity for years. A perfect example is a church band. there’s plenty of church “guitarists” that can only play a handful of chords, because that’s all they need. Ask them to bust out an amazing solo and they won’t be able to, despite playing Guitar for years. Even as a programmer, where you’re constantly learning new things, you have to Deliberately practice and TRY to get better. Push your boundaries, try to make your code clean, etc… Both self-taught and college educated programmers will stagnate if they stop trying to improve. As a self-taught programmer who is trying to improve, doesn’t college sound like a good opportunity?

College educated can be self-taught too

Any college student who actually enjoys coding will be both “Self-taught” AND “formally educated”. Any time a student sits down and writes code on their own, they are “teaching themselves” how to code. So in this respect, a College educated programmer will have all of the benefits of a self-taught programmer, PLUS the benefits of a formal education.

You learn much faster with mentors & community

Having a mentor, and a community of like-minded people is a lot more fun, and you learn a lot quicker. Yes, you can get a mentor and community without school, but it’s easier to find mentors & like-minded people when you’re in a college environment.

College educated solve wider variety of problems & have deeper knowledge

There’s a lot of scientific problems to be solved that require theoretical knowledge, algorithms, Chemistry, Physics, or mathematics. Yes, you CAN learn all this stuff on your own, but it’s much more difficult, and much more time consuming than if you were to just get a college education. One of the most intensively studied problems in Computer Science is “The Traveling Salesman Problem” to give you an example of what CS students will study.

College educated push the boundaries of Human knowledge

Think about all the cool stuff that’s being created. Self-driving cars, robot arms that interface with your brain, non-lethal weapons, Cures for disease, and 400 Gigabyte Micro SD cards that can fit on your little finger. I can almost guarantee that most, if not all the engineers working on these projects have a formal college education, simply because it’s very difficult to learn all of the required stuff on your own. You don’t need college to get paid as a programmer, but if you want to push the boundaries of human knowledge and have a deep understanding of how the world works, then getting a formal education is a really good idea.

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Conclusion:

You don’t need to go to school to get paid as a programmer, nor does going to school guarantee that you’ll be smarter and more capable. College simply gives you a road-map and an atmosphere to help you get a better understanding of how the world works. College can open up more doors for you and allow you to work on a wider variety of interesting projects. Ultimately, College provides an environment where people who love learning can learn with other people. As someone who loves learning, why would you not want to go to college? There’s plenty of fields you can get into. Are you interested in Chemistry? Physics? Machine Learning? Electrical engineering? Bio-engineering? Medicine? The environment?

Instead of going to school while working at McDonalds, maybe consider teaching yourself to code, and then getting a job as a programmer to pay your way through school? What do you think about self-taught vs college educated programmers? Let me know in the comments!

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Check out our recommended reading! We’ve chosen a variety of books covering a lot of different topics from Security, Functional programming, clean code, design, Computer Networking and more.

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2 thoughts on “Self-Taught Programmers VS College Educated. Should you go to School?”

  1. i don’t code professionally, but as with most things in life, those who actually find their doings interesting will go a lot farther with them. Also, people who have to figure things out themselves usually offer deeper insights, possess alternative means, and an outside the-box approach. Just a shame HR does a good job screening the ‘unprofessional’ likes out of the picture, but college is in a way, a means for standardizing the means for production, so it’s probably in the best interest for a firm to hire more ‘predictable’ entities. But where there is a will, there is a way. Overcoming the lack of immediate reward for the taste of eternity is the great struggle.

  2. In today’s world college is just a waste of time and place for slow learners to acquire knowledge in slow pace.Thanks to the internet an individual can have access to all the text books video’s and training tools to learn computer science this article fails to explain that college is an expensive endeavour for only the few rich I have seen people who are self taught with just diplomas and certificates who are out performing college graduates and are on the same level or even better one thing I do advise if your going to be a self taught programmers is to have a good understanding of the device they are going to programme ,have a good understanding of system analysis and design , operating system fundamentals ,and a solid understanding of A level mathematics

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