College vs. Self Taught vs. Coding Bootcamp

I have been doing tons of research on this topic for quite a while now. I am 20 and am leaning toward college because my parents can afford it. What do you guys think? My end goal is to be able to freelance but that might change and I might want to work for a company too.

Thanks,

Andrej

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If you can afford it, and you know this is what you want to do, I will ALWAYS recommend college. Having a degree is not necessarily a requirement, but more often than not having a degree will make you more appealing to employers than not.

That being said, college is only a good route if you know what you want to do. Once you start, you want to finish - so be sure you’ve found your path first.

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If college/university is a valid option for you, I strongly suggest considering it as your first option.

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Everyone is different. Some would describe college degree as a waste of time others will say it’s great. But the thing here is… it all boils down to what you consider your top-most priority.

Considering your present age and the fact that you can afford college fees, i will say go to college. You will learn a lot, not just academics but one very vital thing called “college experience”. It’s priceless even the dropouts had a taste of it.

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I was a developer for 10 years before I switched to management 3 years ago. Here’s my 2 cents on college vs not:

If you do it right, college can expand your network in ways that will help you. Whether that’s as a freelancer, an employee of a mega-company, or as someone who wants to build their own company.

Of the 7 jobs+freelance projects I’ve done, 2 came from “raw” applications. The other 5 came from referrals from people I went to school with or met at another job. Not to mention the number of interviews I went through. A majority were referrals.

You can do a lot of this networking online now. This forum is a great start. LinkedIn of course. What still doesn’t have solid substitute (yet?) is meeting people outside of software. Coding and computer science in isolation is a fun hobby. To turn it into money, you generally have to mix it with at least one other discipline. In school you’re very likely to meet future business people, mathematicians, chemists, artists (great UX anyone?), etc. As a freelancer, these are the people that can eventually provide you with sources for freelance work. Computer science independent of any other discipline is a hobby (a fun one…). But you’ll probably apply it to some other discipline to convert your skill+time into money.

If getting a job - It’s just a fact of how the “candidate funnel” at bigger companies works. Recruiters are incentivized (i.e. more $$) if their numbers show that they are finding candidates that eventually accept offers. It’s not that non-degree people can’t do the job - the people on this FCC obviously exist! It’s that recruiters have 8 hours in their work day and their stats say a higher percentage of people with degrees pass the interviews.

Lastly, I suggest an exercise:
Pretend you just graduated and you have your shiny new diploma from whatever school you like. What’s your next move?

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That’s a hard question (for me) to answer since today some online courses have a great “community” of individual learners, all eager quality learners, which comes along with it, and that used to be a big plus of college. Imho it depends a lot on the particular college or course you’re taking - e.g. high quality teachers can give you a lot of contextual info no course will, including the mundane small talk in the breaks.
Also the chances for the covid in the coming year to take school to home anyway may be a consideration for you.
Personally I’d pick college, but hope I helped you clear up the question.

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