Is Udacity worth it?

I started at Udacity on September, 2016. I subscribed in a Front-End Developer Nano-Degree. I was looking for a consistent online course that gives opportunities to practice my code. I have participated in others courses, but none gave me enough confidence to enter the job market. Furthermore, I still needed to learn other important subjects, like testing, optimization and Ajax. This Nano-Degree is supposed to be helpful for beginners, because it covers many programming topics. Let me tell you about my experience with the Front-End Developer Nano-Degree.

As I said before, this Nano-Degree has a lot of important programming topics like HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but they also present other crucial subjects: optimization, testing, HTML5 Canvas, Design Patterns. Instead of enrolling in a short online course about each topic separately, Udacity offers everything in one small degree. It’s a bit long and it requires dedication. However, Udacity has a team to help everyone: it’s possible to book an appointment on Skype. There’re Slack groups and a big forum. I personally never used any of these tools, because for me it was easier to ask my partner, who is in IT himself.

Another positive feature are the projects. During the modules it’s necessary to send projects to Udacity. This was fundamental for me, because it gave me more confidence about programming. In these projects, I built real applications and coded eleven different projects. Each of these projects was revised by one of Udacity’s revisers. This is another point that makes Udacity special. When a reviser reviewed my code, I could check my mistakes and learn about them. Sometimes, it was boring, but believe me, it worked! Each time that I sent in something wrong and needed to rectify it, I learned more! On another platform I had a similar situation: someone reviewed my code. But in opposite to Udacity the revisers there were students like me. In consequence, nobody commented on my code or gave me a relevant evaluation. So, I couldn’t improve my knowledge or find where I actually made the mistakes. With Udacity it was totally different. The revisers gave me details about how to improve my code and they helped me with my mistakes by putting comments along the code and tasks.

Finally, they offer numerous lessons about careers. The HR instructors talk about LinkedIn, résumé and job letters. It’s helpful, because the Udacity HR professionals looked at my LinkedIn profile, for example, and showed me points that needed improvement. It’s valuable information, but it wasn’t my concern. Even, if It didn’t have these topics about careers, I would still sign in with Udacity.

But the are also some disadvantages in enrolling with Udacity. For example, the price probably is quite a negative aspect of Udacity. While you can enroll in other online course for around 50 dollars, Udacity doesn’t charge for single courses, but only offers the whole package if you want to get a certified degree. For me this meant a monthly payment of quite an amount of money. There is a cashback possibility, if you finish the course in less than on year, but it still is a big investment. The course is really good, but I’m not sure about their cost. They could offer more discounts or something like that.

Furthermore, some courses could be better. Sometimes, the videos content weren’t enough and too simple. I remember when I did the Arcade Game unit, there wasn’t any explanation about Javascript’s basic concepts. They started a little review about functions and objects. After that they introduced many difficult themes like prototype and pseudo classes. If you are a beginner student, you rather need to learn about conditionals, loops or objects, than pseudo classes or prototypes in the first unit about Javascript. Nowadays, they have an introduction lesson to help everyone. However, it was one of the scariest situations for me in Udacity. Finally, I have the feeling that Udacity doesn’t know who the target audience is. There are lessons that are made very well, so any level programmer could follow them, but in the same time, there are complex lessons where the instructors speak to experienced programmers only or suppress information.

Lastly, the Portuguese translation in Udacity Brazil wasn’t good. As a result, many parts of the Nano-Degree were in English and the instructions projects were confusing. I never knew when I should write in Portuguese or in English. In the end, I just wrote in English and, consequently, my revisers answered in English, too! I was in Udacity Brazil, so I expected good instructions in Portuguese! Another detail that made my experience good but not awesome.

In conclusion, I recommend the Front-End Developer Nano-degree. Nothing is perfect, Udacity has a lot of points to improve. Notwithstanding, I think they delivered what they’ve promised. I’ve finished my Nano-Degree with more confidence, with a good résumé and with new 50 people added to my LinkedIn (the HR person in Udacity told me this is a good number to start an account). One suggestion for Udacity is to show the transcription of their videos. It would be interesting for students to understand the context when pausing the video due misunderstanding the topic. Another interesting thing is to improve the videos content. Also, funny videos are cool, but they need deep content. In the future, I hope to be able to enroll in others courses in this platform.