There has been a push of late to stir those either undecided about their future plans or those searching for a career change toward a breakneck education in programming. Institutions such as CodeAcademy tout comprehensive, immersive coding courses designed to give students an extensive understanding of programming in a few short weeks.
Does college still offer something?
If you take stock in articles such as this this, I’d venture to say the answer is “no.” The man who penned this piece doesn’t believe a college degree necessary for a career in code and finds a few sources with something to gain to back the premise.
Reality’s Bitter Sting
I fully appreciate the allure of being offered a real job in response to a short intense burn of effort. With the state of our economy and the prognosis for college graduates working in their field, doubly so. What proponents of courses such as these fail to mention (often conveniently) is that the majority of their student body is comprised of college graduates in pursuit of a career change, often a drastic one.
A College Degree: The New High School Diploma
Many employers today require a college degree on principle alone. One’s degree symbolizes more than one’s ability to pay for it; the vast majority of graduates will spend the next decade or more trying to pay for it. It shows a commitment to self-betterment. It demonstrates one’s ability to see the long-term gain of such an endeavor despite the short-term hardship. It emphasizes a well-rounded education that has endowed its bearer with a firm and expansive knowledge base.
What You’ll Miss at Code Camp
Allow me to preface by saying that programming courses are beneficial and serve as a robust starting point in one’s education into the wide world of coding. They are, however, little more than a starting point, the commencement of one’s journey down a particularly technical and unwieldy path to solitude. I can teach you to hammer a nail in far less than a few weeks, but at the end of your “education” no one would call you a carpenter. Much like anything, the basics of programming can be picked up quickly, but developing fluency with the craft and understanding its nuance takes years of dedication. Much more important that understanding that something works is understanding how it works, and deeper still, why it works.