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7 essential questions to ask before joining a coding bootcamp

Jun 10, 2022 - 8 min read
Crystal Song

Coding bootcamps have exploded in popularity, and thanks to these intense programs, countless individuals have fast-tracked their way to a lucrative career in coding without needing a four-year degree in computer science. If you want to learn front-end web development, data science, UX research, or mobile application development, chances are there’s a bootcamp for it.

However, bootcamps can be costly. You want to learn how to code and are willing to put time and effort into doing so, but would a coding bootcamp be worth it?

People choose to attend coding bootcamps for many reasons and may gravitate towards them for the sense of community they provide, job placement support, or to increase the sense of accountability. With the plethora of online courses available, you may wonder whether it’s more advantageous to self-study or go all-in on a coding bootcamp.

This article will go over what questions you should ask yourself before committing to a coding bootcamp and several other factors to consider as you learn about software development.

1. What do I want to build?

If you’re entirely new to programming, this might be one of the most important things to find out before joining a coding bootcamp.

The most common coding bootcamp is for web development because there’s a considerable demand for front-end, back-end, and full-stack web developers. Relative to other software engineering careers, it has a low barrier to entry. That said, web development might not be the best path for you. The job market is on fire, and the demand for programmers and software developers continues to outstrip the supply, so you certainly have many options.

Take some time to learn more about mobile application development, data science solutions, or embedded software development. The best coding bootcamp is the one that fits your interests and needs.

2. What language do I want to learn first?

If you know what you want to build, then the next step would be to find out what languages are standard in the industry of your interest. For example, Python would be the best place to start if you want to go into data science, and if you want to learn full-stack web development, then learning JavaScript would be the way to go. Kotlin or Flutter will be good choices if you want to build mobile apps.

There is plenty of online discourse on which language is the best and what languages will become obsolete. It may be daunting to figure out how various languages’ strengths and weaknesses will affect your career. One appeal of coding bootcamps is their highly structured nature. They tell you in advance what languages you will be learning during the program.

Once you decide what language to learn, you can start filtering through bootcamps based on what language they use to instruct their students.

Many front-end web development bootcamps teach the fundamentals of web development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and React.

3. Can I afford to attend a bootcamp?

The cost of a bootcamp might be the most practical thing to consider. The tuition for coding bootcamps can range from $7,800 to $21,000, with the average full-time coding bootcamp costing around $13,584[1]. There are some sub-$5,000 coding bootcamps and free ones, like the Ada Developers Academy[2].

There are typically three options to pay for a coding bootcamp:

  1. Apply for a personal loan
  2. Finance through the bootcamp
  3. Payment upfront

When financing through a bootcamp, you may be able to pay in monthly installments.

Note: Some bootcamps like Hack Reactor and App Academy provide income share agreements (ISA). ISAs allow students to attend a coding bootcamp for a fixed percentage of their future income. However, ISAs can come with a lot of fine print, so it’s of utmost importance that you read and fully understand the terms of an ISA contract before signing on.

Be sure to consider:

  • Does the bootcamp provide a stipend for living expenses?
  • Will I be able to work while attending the bootcamp?
  • Does the bootcamp offer any grants or financial assistance?
  • What financing options are available?
  • Can I support myself during the job search?

You want to ensure that upon joining a bootcamp, you don’t end up in a situation where financial instability forces you to quit the program.

4. How will a bootcamp fit into my schedule?

Coding bootcamps typically require the same dedication as a full-time job, if not more, for weeks and sometimes up to a year. Many coding bootcamps provide part-time, evening, and weekend options as flexible learning options. There are also online coding bootcamps for people who don’t live near a major city like San Francisco or Seattle.

Part-time programs can be great for people who prefer to work while they learn, but they will still require a considerable amount of time commitment each week. If you plan on working or caring for someone while attending bootcamp, we recommend blocking out a typical week in a planner and then blocking out time to study and attend classes.

Many coding bootcamps post a curriculum on their website. Take a look to get a good idea of the program’s pacing. How long are they spending on certain concepts? How quickly do they move on?

5. Does this bootcamp have a strong track record of success?

Always do your due diligence and find out what people have to say about a bootcamp before committing to anything. See if people have posted their experience on websites like Reddit or Course Report. Look up graduates of the bootcamp on LinkedIn to see what kind of jobs they have been able to find.

If possible, you want to find out the:

  • Percentage of graduates who find employment
  • Percentage of students who graduate
  • Average time to first job after graduation

Some bootcamps also provide post-graduation job placement services in the form of interview prep classes, resume evaluations, etc. A good coding bootcamp will be interested in facilitating positive outcomes for their students, so make sure to find out what networking opportunities are available through the program of your interest. If a bootcamp lacks career services, it might not be worth your time.

Finally, find out who will be instructing these courses. Ideally, you will be learning from people who have industry experience. Instructors who have worked in the tech industry can provide valuable anecdotal information about what it’s like to work on real-world projects.

6. Do I have the self-discipline to stay motivated?

Some people thrive under pressure and feel extra motivated to learn in highly structured classroom settings. The fact that you must do the work and succeed or risk wasting your money can also be appealing.

However, not everyone can rely on these external motivators to keep learning. The truth is that learning software development requires a lot of self-discipline, whether you’re in a coding bootcamp or not.

Before starting a coding bootcamp, try studying programming concepts independently. Familiarize yourself with new terminology in advance. For example, if you don’t know what algorithms, data structures, or frameworks are, then spend an afternoon familiarizing yourself with what they are and how they’re used.

Create a schedule by putting aside time each day to research and practice learning how to code. There are some great resources online, and studying every day will help ease the transition to more demanding learning environments.

7. Will I need any supplemental learning resources?

Coding bootcamp instructors sometimes encourage students to use supplemental learning materials to augment what they’re learning in class. There is only so much you can learn in a few weeks or even a year. You will likely need to revisit old concepts often and continue studying independently even after you graduate. If your instructor has industry experience, they probably recognize that for you to succeed as a developer, you need to have the mindset of a perpetual learner.

Online learning platforms like Educative are great for keeping your skills sharp after graduation. We have a vast library of courses and learning paths developed and maintained by engineers and industry experts.

Get hands-on coding experience today.

Try one of our 300+ courses and learning paths: Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript from Scratch*.

Wrapping up and next steps

Always remember to practice, practice, and practice some more, no matter what method you choose when learning to code! Be aware of what you’re learning, why you’re learning it, and how it connects to what you already know. Interactive learning is among the most effective ways to solidify concepts in your memory.

Coding bootcamps can be great ways to get the guidance you need to land an entry-level position in tech, but if you find that learning format too restrictive, there is a whole ocean of free learning resources available online.

If you need extra flexibility but still want the structured learning environment of a coding bootcamp, then try Educative. We have plenty of beginner-friendly courses and more advanced courses for those looking to keep their skills up to date. Our courses cover a wide range of topics, from cybersecurity to data analytics, back-end web development, and much more!

Stay motivated, and always keep learning!

To get started learning these concepts and more, check out Educative’s Personalized Learning Plans.

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WRITTEN BYCrystal Song

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