With the cost of secondary education soaring (and quality declining, by many accounts), many current and aspiring IT professionals are seeking alternatives to gain skills for their fields. So-called coding bootcamps have sprung up as one option. Spanning a variety of programming skills, these mini-academies “are often cheaper than a semester at college—or even sometimes one college course. This has made bootcamps appealing to anyone interested in learning a new skill, but not able to pay for a college course,” said Sarah White at CIO. Among the benefits beyond cost are a typically shorter format—weeks or months rather than years—and the ability to impart skills in a setting that better keeps pace with a quickly changing industry.
White notes, however, “As far as bootcamps and other alternative forms of education have come in recent years, the general consensus is that they still aren’t a solid replacement for a more traditional education, at least in the eyes of employers.” One reason for this prejudice toward college is that a four-year degree generally shows that an individual is willing to invest lots of time and money in pursuing a certain path and—perhaps more importantly—is willing to put up with a mind-numbing institutional setting whose assigned tasks often make little or no sense. Insofar as that’s the case, coding bootcamps can be a tremendous supplement to a traditional education. They are almost certainly superior for professionals looking for freelance work or other gig-style employment that doesn’t necessarily involve long-term attachment to a single employer. In such cases, just the freedom from the huge debt that college brings may be worth the missing line item on a resume.
In many ways, the IT industry’s continued reliance on traditional education channels is a disgrace. The Internet has revolutionized many aspects in life, but companies still rely on overpriced, underperforming institutions to produce their talent—and they gripe constantly about a lack of skilled candidates. Perhaps it’s time to take alternative approaches more seriously.
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