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Hi! I want to study software engineering, but I’m not sure if it’s what I should choose. I know that bootcamps are the new big thing and they say they can get you into a new career in a couple of months. But don’t you need to study at college for several years to get the skills you need? All that buzz about bootcamps seems like a marketing trick. Or am I wrong and they really do their job well?
Hello, Carol! Firstly, we’d like to appreciate your desire to study software engineering. It’s a great career path that opens plenty of opportunities.
As for the college versus bootcamp question, both learning options work, and both have their pros and cons. The choice depends on your personal goals, preferences, and circumstances. Let's start with the basics.
Bootcamp vs. college: Who should enroll?
A coding bootcamp is an intensive training program that typically lasts from a few weeks to a few months. They are designed to help you learn the most relevant and in-demand technologies in the industry. Coding bootcamps are ideal for people who want to switch careers quickly or who want to enhance their existing skills and knowledge. They are also more affordable and flexible than college degrees, as they often offer online or part-time schedules and various financing options.
A college degree is a formal credential that certifies your academic achievement in a specific field of study. They typically take two to four years to complete. College degrees are good for people who want to gain a comprehensive and theoretical understanding of computer science and its applications. However, these are also more expensive and time-consuming than coding bootcamps and may not teach you the most up-to-date skills and tools in the industry.
Summing up, if you want to get into a new career fast, choose a coding bootcamp. If you are more about delving into science, choose a college degree. Next, let's look at how they differ.
One of the main differences between coding bootcamps and colleges is the cost. Course Report estimates the average cost of a coding bootcamp at $14,142 per year. On the other hand, according to the College Board, the average annual cost of tuition at a four-year college was $35,550 per year as of 2020–2021, or $142,000 total.
In a more specific example, TripleTen’s Software Engineering bootcamp costs $9,700 for the whole program. In comparison, MIT’s cost of attendance for the 2023–2024 academic year is $82,730.
Therefore, coding bootcamps are generally cheaper than college degrees. Some of them also offer alternative payment options such as monthly installments, "learn now, pay later" options, or loans.
Another major difference between coding bootcamps and colleges is the time commitment. As we mentioned above, coding bootcamps typically last from a few weeks to a few months, while college degrees usually take two to four years to complete. For example, TripleTen’s Software Engineering bootcamp lasts ten months, while the software engineering major at the University of California, Irvine, lasts four years.
Bootcamps are therefore much faster than college degrees, as they focus on teaching you the most practical and relevant skills for the job market. You can also start working sooner after graduating from a coding bootcamp than from a college.
Coding bootcamps and college degrees have different approaches to teaching computer science and IT.
Bootcamps are more project-based and hands-on than college degrees, as they emphasize learning by doing and applying your skills to real-world problems. College degrees, on the other hand, are more theory-based and academic. They emphasize learning the fundamentals and concepts of computer science and its applications. In college, students study subjects like the theory of computation, whereas bootcamps may not cover topics like this in depth or even at all.
Both coding bootcamps and college degrees have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to curriculum. Coding bootcamps may prepare you better for specific roles or tasks in the industry, while college degrees may give you a broader and deeper understanding of the theory.
The ultimate difference between coding bootcamps and colleges is the outcome. What can you expect after graduating from a coding bootcamp or a college degree?
According to data compiled by the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), the average job placement rate across major coding bootcamps is 71%. This is higher than the average job placement rate for computer science graduates, which currently stands at 68%. At the same time, as many as 87% of TripleTen students find a job within tech six months after graduation.
Therefore, coding bootcamps and college degrees can both lead to careers in IT. However, coding bootcamps may offer a faster and cheaper way to enter the industry.
Should I choose a coding bootcamp or a college degree?
As you see, both options have their pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your personal goals, learning preferences, and circumstances.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before making a decision:
- What are my career goals? Do I want to work as a web developer, software engineer, data analyst, or something else?
- What are my learning preferences? Do I prefer a project-based, hands-on approach or a theory-based, academic approach?
- How much time and money can I invest in my education? Do I want to spend a few months or a few years in school?
- How much flexibility do I need in my schedule? Do I want to study online, part-time, or full-time?
- How much support do I need from instructors, mentors, peers, or career services?
- How important is credential recognition for me? Do I care about having a formal degree or certificate?
We hope that the data above will help you choose the learning path that best suits your needs. Should you choose the bootcamp way, we have a comprehensive article where we compare some of the most popular courses. It has the data to help you choose the bootcamp that best fits your needs. No matter your choice, we wish you the best in your education and future in IT!