Throughout Europe, and in several other parts of the world, there's a longstanding tradition called the "gap year." In the year immediately following high school graduation, students will travel the world in order to expand their knowledge and better themselves before coming home to start college and make the final decision about their major.
Young aspiring programmers who want to learn to code should seriously consider taking a "code year" to evaluate whether a college degree is really the right path for them. By that we mean, instead of jumping straight into a computer science degree, spend some time taking courses that teach more direct and practical coding skills. You might find college isn't even the right way to go, at least not right away.
The Trouble With College
Here's the major issue with college computer science programs and coding schools; they often don't teach you real-world coding. Instead, you're exposed to years of theory. Useful? Possibly. Necessary? Very arguably. A delay of years before you actually start cracking into the projects that fired your imagination and got you interested in coding in the first place? Almost definitely.
Here's an interesting statistic. Stack Overflow conducts an annual Developer Survey, in which they ask over 26,000 active software developers about their life and work. In 2015, just under half of these developers replied that they did not have a computer science degree.
That doesn't mean that a computer science degree doesn't open doors. There are some major companies, like Google and Microsoft, who will not interview candidates for developer positions who don't have at least a four-year CS degree. With projected shortfalls of hundreds of thousands of developers to meet all the jobs that are going to require them in the next few years, however, a good coder without a degree doesn't really have to sweat about finding employment. And considering the numbers, Google and Microsoft might have to reevalute how their candidates learned to code.
And if you've got entrepreneurial ambitions, a degree program is quite possibly just a bunch of wasted time to you. The dropout success stories are endless — Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Michael Dell are just a few names on the long list of people who became famous in tech without completing a college degree.
The value of college really comes down to what you want to do. A theory-heavy CS education is going to be of more benefit to you if you want to work on the really big new projects at companies like Microsoft or Apple. You need a strong theory background to do things like create new operating systems and conceptualize entirely new interfaces for phones.
If you're looking at doing something like creating an app, learning to code for game development, building websites, launching a startup or working in cloud computing, CS theory might actually just slow you down. That's because CS isn't completely necessary to do these things with the tools and languages that are now available.
These propositions aren't mutually exclusive, either. As you learn practical code, you'll also gradually be picking up an understanding of theory along the way.
The Door Is Never Closed
Consider also that going to college isn't ever shut off to you by jumping straight into coding. If you hit a point in your career where you feel that a CS degree would actually be very valuable to you, you can always go get one at a university or other type of coding school. At that point you'll likely be better off, with the ability to make a good living from your previous coding experience, and an impressive Github portfolio built that could potentially help you land some scholarships.
How DaVinci Institute Helps
The intensive coding bootcamps offered at DaVinci Institute get you up and coding practical projects from absolutely no prior experience within a period of 15 to 21 weeks (depending on the course). We exclusively focus on teaching languages that are accessible to beginners but that also allow you to start doing real-world coding right out of the gate.
Contact us to learn more about what we have to offer!