I can relate very closely to what you are talking about. I (20M) am also currently pursuing an associate’s degree(with transfer to a 4-year) in Computer Science at a community college. This past summer, I got very frustrated for the exact same reasons you mentioned above and I joined a very well-rated Coding Bootcamp. I did not drop out of college. I continued my regular summer classes, along with the Bootcamp just to get a feel for it.
Here is what happened:
After a week or so of preparing, I got accepted and paid the Bootcamp a deposit. I immediately dropped out of the program and requested a refund after my very first day. The instructor did not seem well equipped to be teaching. He himself was a graduate of the Bootcamp program and was looking for a job as a programmer. He struggled to teach very very simple concepts such as camelCasing or iteration in loops (things like i++/i–). It honestly felt like a big waste of time.
Now, was I too fast to judge? 1000% yes. This was a very high rated Bootcamp and it guarantees you a job or else, you don’t have to pay the tuition fee (~$25k-$30k). So, I am sure if I had just stuck with the program, I would have eventually landed a job as a Software Engineer. But it made me question if attending the program was worth my time and money when I could be getting better education/training from free resources like this website (or even community colleges as they are practically free in states like CA).
If you ask me, you will develop a solid foundation if you take the college route. If you take the Bootcamp route, you will definitely become a Software Engineer but I am not sure if you will have a good base. Boot camps are extremely fast-paced and their whole strategy is to make you cram the hot industry skills so you can get hired ASAP. I have also heard that companies tend to look for a bachelor’s degree when it comes to recruiting people for higher-level / managerial roles, so a degree might be worth it in the long run. So, while a Bootcamp might land you a nice $75k-$100k position, in the long run, a college degree MIGHT help you climb the corporate ladder faster and get a much higher paying position. It’s weird because in the past companies highly valued education but nowadays experience seems to have precedence. Still, I believe a STEM degree will hold a lot of value and it’s definitely worth pursuing one, especially in fields like CS, Data Science, Cyber Security, etc.
I talked to a few engineers at MAANG who took the Bootcamp route. None of them had anything negative to say about the Bootcamp. But, most of them already had some sort of degree and later decided to switch fields. Since we have time on our hands, sticking to college, for now, might be a better option. I don’t know how much value an associate degree carries in the tech industry but I am sure if you have any degree to showcase, it will definitely give you a little boost in the long run. I personally stopped comparing myself to my friends from HS because it just made me terribly miserable lol. Instead, I decided to set small goals for myself and that has helped me. For now, I am just focusing on finishing some more certifications from FreeCodeCamp, transferring out of CC to a 4-year institute, and landing an internship next summer(hopefully).
Hope this helped! (my apologies for going on a rant lol)
ALSOOOOOOOO App Academy, which is arguably the best-rated Bootcamp has made its entire curriculum free! You can access their entire Software Engineering program for $0. Here’s the link: