Formal Education Vs None, A Rant

So I’m always reading posts on forums and browsing the internet and I recently I have been really into learning HTML5 game development and while I was stuck on learning the Phaser framework I sought some help on a forum asking for help on a problem I was having and also if html5 game development was a good thing to get into or if C# and a game engine like unity was better. Got to talking with a few people in the forum and some were real positive about continuing the path I was on that it was a good idea and others said I should aim to study C# along side using the Unity game engine if I wanted to make games. How ever one poster seemed to really well piss me off. I won’t go into the every detail but it pretty much came across that I or well anyone cannot hope to ever get a job with out a formal education or a certification in programming. Unless you choose a very niche language that not many people know well. It was also said that if you choose to learn languages like Python or JavaScript first you will never really be a programmer or understand programming for that matter because its dynamic and not a static language. So what is everyone else’s opinion on the matter? Am I wasting my time trying to learn this stuff on my own? Should I just quit now since I will never receive a formal education on programming?

You can’t listen to what other people have to say. There will be 1000 people who say it doesn’t matter, and 1000 who say it does. I know several people who have learned to code via self taught, or online programs such as this, even code bootcamps and the like. Several of them have great jobs. What it really comes down to is do you have what it takes, and are you dedicated. I would assume the rate of people who complete this course, or any course is quite low. Its hard work, it’s easy to give up. Ive been there. Buckle down and dedicate, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise if its what you truly want. You can do it!


there are Booleaders and Cheerleaders in this world; who you gonna listen to?


I try not to list to anyone and just do me, but all I was doing in that forum was looking for help but what I got was ripped to shreds for wanting to learn something and be good at it and hopefully get a job doing it. I take many online courses and I do FCC although not far into FCC as I’d like to be I have completely many of my other courses dedication is definitely not a problem. The fear of never getting a job though is very real and it just puts me down sometimes. I don’t want to work retail for ever xD


I thought this would be easy to reply to but I’ve found myself thinking there’s a few separate thoughts going on here.

At my first programming job ever one of the most senior developers there didn’t have a degree or certificate. And throughout my career I’ve encountered folks that had the skills but not the paper, and they’ve done very well for themselves. That being said, this seems to be a per company thing. There are some companies that require a BS/MS/etc. degree and they aren’t going to compromise. So without the paper, you’re not going to get in there. But not every company is like that. You just need to find the right places. And they are out there, trust me.

If programming is something you are passionate about you will do great, I have no doubt. The more dedicated you are to it the better you will do. But think about this, if this is your career choice, it requires a commitment to continual learning. Everything changes fast and continues to change nonstop. You will “always” have to be learning or risk being left behind. I am coming up on 20 years as a professional software engineer and here I am working through all of the challenges at FCC so I can stay up to date on the latest web technologies. But of course that’s part of the joy of this profession, always learning.

And this leads me to my final thought. Because this is something you are passionate about, and because you realize that you are going to need to always be learning, you shouldn’t rule out “ever” getting a formal degree or certificate. I get it that it’s expensive and time consuming. And I honestly get that it probably isn’t a possibility for you right now or for a lot of people. But that doesn’t mean it won’t “ever” happen. After you find that first programming job, most likely they will offer some sort of tuition reimbursement program. Or maybe they will pay for various training, or seminars. Or both even. And you should consider it and take advantage of it.

So to answer your question, no, I absolutely do not think you should quit. You are not wasting your time. Just realize that your commitment and drive will ultimately determine your success. I’ve seen PhD’s fail because they don’t want it bad enough, and I’ve seen folks without degrees succeed because they do.

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Learning is not my problem I love learning aside from learning programming there are many other things I want to learn just out of interest and no real benefit other than self satisfaction. As for drive I have tons of that I refuse to fail. I would love to go get a formal education but at this point in my life its just not obtainable. Schooling is just too much money. If I job offered paid training and other things you bet your sweet ass I’m taking all the training i get.

I know everyone’s probably had this thought before but I want the struggling and depression that comes with it to be gone. Wake up everyday like yeah I have a job and I love it.

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Well, if this is a somewhat representative sample of the quality of posts on said forum, then I wouldn’t waste my time on reading that crap at all :wink:


Yeah you’re probably right. Here is the opposite no one tries to bring me down while I’m trying to stand on my own two feet.

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Maybe that guy went to school and resents that those of us who didn’t can make just much, can do just as much, and love it more :wink:

P.S. I think formal education is great and those who achieve it in or out of C.S. should feel accomplished. But the bottom line will always be capability. Not diplomas.

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@CydoEntis I do not know who said that but just for your information:

I watched a video from Quicy , I can’t remember his last name, the founder of FCC. He stated that by the time people get to the NGO project stage, companies are looking for recruiting you.

Also, another thing: I am looking for a job and thus pay very close attention to what’s going on on linkedin. I started FCC about a week ago but started looking for a job at the beginning of January. After putting FCC on my linkedin resume I saw the “alumni from FCC works there” pop out everywhere.

Conclusion: YES you will eventually get a job provided dedication and hardwork.
and YES there will always be nay-sayer around you.


Thanks I needed responses like these. I’m going to keep going down the path I chose and get to where I need to be so I feel confident enough to apply for my very first programming job. I just started the The Odin Project along side FCC and some other courses I’m enrolled in to really get a good grasp on this stuff.

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Don’t expect everybody to be supportive and pat you on the back. There will always be people looking down on you and thinking you’re worse because you miss formal education or something else. You need to focus on your goal and accept negative and positive feedback. Imagine the situation when you show your project and ask for opinions. One person says “Not bad but you still need to work”. Another one says “What a load of crap”. Naturally you would get offended by the second comment and try to ignore it but you would be wrong. The both comments are equally valid because they basically say “You’re not good enough. Work more!”. You just need to cast aside emotions when reading opinions about you or your work. You mentioned you’re into game development so I’m not surprised someone pointed out your lack of education. There’s load of Math And Physics involved in making games. Sometimes there is more Math than programming itself. So yeah formal education would come in handy. But is it necassary? I don’t think so. Not for everybody at least.


I can totally relate to everything you’re saying. You said you don’t want to work retail forever. Well it’s the same for me, but in my case it’s “I don’t want want to work in fast food forever”, lol. Don’t listen to the idiot who said you can’t hope for a job without formal education, and in any case you can always get one once you get a developer job. Study everything well and even study some computer science on your own, and I think you can even be a better developer than those with education. Resources are abundant, so many books and so many great free courses. You can’t go wrong.

Plus, this was just one poster, out of many others who wouldn’t think the same. I just asked a question of whether it’s possible to get a developer job without a degree on a subreddit yesterday, and 100% of the replies said yes, especially in web development. You can do it. Make an amazing portfolio and I think a lot of employers would give you a chance, even without a degree. And every time you become demotivated, just remember retail, and you’ll be back working your butt off again in no time. That’s what I’ve been doing.

You’re not wasting your time, you’re learning real skills that are valuable (and fun!). Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and get you down. I wish you good luck, and keep going!


would love a link to that post!!

“It would we weird for us to require a college degree. If you can build awesome stuff and have big impact, that’s all we’re really looking for,” — Will Barnett, Facebook’s Engineer Recruiter

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I’ll add that I was recently hired onto a team that runs the gamut from PhD’s to those with no institutional education. Everyone respects each other’s contributions and capabilities. And one of the most important capabilities is fitting into a productive team with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. That’d be hard to do for people who can’t see past paper credentials.

Don’t worry so much about it. College degrees are becoming overrated anyway. Our profession is so fast paced that half of what you learn will be obsolete in 10 years. Your value as a developer is your ability to stay current not some overpriced piece of paper.

It’s a reality that people are going to have more faith in someone with a formal education. If you had a choice between two people two guys to be an accountant for your company - some guy with a CPA and another guy that was self-taught through some free internet courses - who are you going to choose?

Be realistic. Taking the “I’m going to teach myself” route is a more difficult road. If a company has a choice between a guy fresh out of a CS program and a guy fresh out of Free Code Camp, they will take the guy with the degree. Be realistic. You can’t rely on your education credentials on this road. You’re going to have to produce high quality product and make a lot of networking credentials. Then and only then will you get in the door.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but don’t choose the road less traveled and then complain that the path is difficult. Accept that those guys with degrees will get their foot in the door first for those big jobs. We could debate about whether or not it should be true, but the point is that it is true. Don’t live in denial - acknowledge that it is an added difficulty and deal with it. Put out some top notch product that will make them want you. Some will still turn up their noses. So what? You don’t need every job, you just need a job.

See the truth is -
->there are people with degree and have good jobs.
->there are people with degree and have no job.
->there are people who are self taught and have good jobs.
->there are people who are self taught and have no jobs.

Another truth is-
-> Two guys with similar skill sets,one with degree and one self taught, most companies will prefer the one with degree.

Another truth is-
-> Self taught one with better skill sets than the one with degree will be preferred over the degree.

Best truth is-
-> If you really love what you do, you will pass all the barriers and you will enjoy the journey!

Best of Luck!