Mamas, Don’t Let Your Highschoolers Go Off To College Without First Looking at Coding Bootcamps

As a mother of seven college attendees or graduates (ages 19–33), I am eager to share with other parents about what is a very viable alternative, or addition, to sending your child to college (if they have any inclination at all, toward computers).

Last year, two of our sons attended Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco. One did it as part of his Gap Year experience between high school and college, and the other did it after graduating from college to improve his resume (his degree is in international business). Dev Bootcamp is one of several computer programming immersion programs that are springing up around the country in major cities. They aren’t cheap, but they are much less expensive than college!

This particular program took nine weeks of preparation, where they estimate you spend 15–25 hours a week studying and then nine weeks of on-location, super-intense time (six days/week, about 14 hours/day) of learning to code. The skills they come out with are close to the technical skills someone gains while attending college for four years in computer science. The demand for skilled coders (computer programmers) is enormous and this is a way for people to gain a very marketable skill in a short period of time.

If this intrigues you, I would recommend reading up on hackreactor.com and devbootcamp.com or just do a Google search for “programming boot camps.” Additionally, if your student (or you — there are older adults in these programs as well!) wants to try out what computer programming is like, there are some great resources to get started online like teamtreehouse.com (paid) and codecademy.com (free). I have personally studied coding under a variety of these online options and really enjoyed it.

Our older son is now employed in San Francisco full-time as a software engineer. The younger one, Peter, is in his first year of college at Azusa Pacific University (studying computer science) and just landed a programming internship for the summer at a company that typically only gives internships to college juniors. Peter comments, “Comparing code school and college, you get to the fun stuff a lot quicker at a code school. I would say kids have a higher chance of liking coding after going to a code school rather than going through a CS degree program.”

Another one of our sons is about to graduate from Brown University with a computer science degree, so we are able to make some comparisons. (Having lots of children comes in handy for trying out different things!) There are obvious benefits of having the full four-year degree, but the cost/benefits ratio makes it worthwhile to strongly consider the programming immersion boot camps.

I like to share about this because I know that I would have really appreciated hearing about this option if I was a parent or a student with interests in this area. Spread the word.

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