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Coding Bootcamps vs Self-Taught: Which is best for you?

So you're interested in learning to code but don't know where to begin? You have many options, including university, college, self-teaching and tech & coding bootcamps. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately depends on the individual's needs and preferences.

1) What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is a structured program, typically lasting a few months, that imparts the fundamentals of programming to students. It is akin to a crash course, immersing you in the core concepts of programming.

When we say “self-teaching”, we mean acquiring new knowledge and skills without the help of a teacher or formal instruction. You rely on your own motivation, schedule and research on which path to take. While most developers eventually self-teach themselves a new language, its useful to have a solid, guided foundation from a course before becoming a developer.


2) Benefits of Coding Bootcamps

A) Structured Curriculum

You’ve probably experienced what it’s like to feel lost when you’re trying to learn something new, especially something as expansive as coding or data. “Where do I begin?” “Do I need this language?” Coding bootcamps provide a structure that ensures you build upon your knowledge through projects each week.

Note: One way to ensure that a bootcamp your choose is teaching you relevant, up-to-date soft and hard skills is to find out if their courses are accredited through independent organisations such as BCS.

B) Dedicated instructors

One of the biggest advantages of enrolling in a bootcamp is having access to a team of dedicated instructors who are there to help you every step of the way. Here at Le Wagon, we have 1 teacher for every 7 students and during challenges, students are encouraged to raise as many tickets as they need. These teachers are course experts and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and helping students succeed.

In addition to providing guidance and support, instructors can also help you develop important skills, such as how to ask for help and ask the right questions. Learning these skills can be invaluable in a career as a developer, where collaboration and problem-solving are key.

C) Community and networking

Because learning at a bootcamp can be intense, having a community provides support, motivation, and opportunities for collaboration. Engaging with other students and professionals can help expand your knowledge and skills.

Our graduates have come from a range of career backgrounds and industries. Some return to their previous companies in a new or promoted role, some co-found their own with another member of the bootcamp, and many join companies that hire bootcamp graduates.

In addition to improving your technical abilities, boosting your interpersonal skills can do wonders for your career. Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership are highly valued by employers and can set you apart from other job seekers. It will also improve your overall communication and collaboration with colleagues, as well as your ability to negotiate with clients and stakeholders.

3) Drawbacks of Coding Bootcamps

A) Cost

Cost can be a barrier to entry, particularly for those from underserved communities. With this in mind, many coding bootcamps offer various financial support options to make their programs more accessible. This includes fully-funded scholarships and discounts. Additionally, some bootcamps offer financing options that allow you to pay for your education over time rather than all at once.

B) Intense pace

One of the key aspects of bootcamps is their intense pace. To make sure that you learn a lot in a short period of time, the curriculum is designed to be project-based. You’ll work on real projects that challenge you as you develop practical skills. This means a lot of practical work, which some people find quite difficult.

C) Lack of flexibility

Coding bootcamps offer part-time and flexible courses online and on-campus to fit around busy schedules. This is especially beneficial for individuals who are unable to take a career break and need to balance work, family and other commitments. However, for some people, this isn’t enough. Some families require more care and some people might find working while studying part-time too intense.

D) Huge commitment

Bootcamps can be a huge commitment for anyone, especially if they are not sure about their goals. However, attending a bootcamp can be an excellent way to gain new skills, knowledge, and experience quickly. In addition, a bootcamp can provide an opportunity to network with industry professionals and peers, which can help in the job search process. Furthermore, bootcamps often offer various resources such as mentorship, career coaching, and job placement assistance, which can be valuable for those just starting out in their careers or looking to make a change. Therefore, its important to carefully consider your goals, interests, and priorities before committing to a bootcamp, and research the available options to find the best fit for your needs.



4) Questions to determine if you need choose a bootcamp or self-learning

  1. What is my learning style?
    • Bootcamp: I thrive in structured environments with clear objectives and schedules.
    • Self-Learning: I prefer setting my own pace and delving into topics of my own interest.
  2. How disciplined am I?
    • Bootcamp: I need external accountability to maintain discipline and consistency in my learning.
    • Self-Learning: I’m self-disciplined and can maintain a consistent study routine on my own.
  3. What is my current knowledge level?
    • Bootcamp: I’m a beginner and would benefit from a guided and structured start.
    • Self-Learning: I already have some foundational knowledge and can explore further on my own.
  4. What resources can I access?
    • Bootcamp: I’d benefit from specialized resources, tools, and environments that bootcamps offer.
    • Self-Learning: I have access to or know where to find high-quality self-learning materials.
  5. What’s my financial situation?
    • Bootcamp: I can invest in my education and see the value in paying for a bootcamp.
    • Self-Learning: I’m on a tight budget and would prefer to utilize free or lower-cost resources available online.
  6. Do I value networking and community?
    • Bootcamp: I value structured networking opportunities and joining a community of like-minded peers.
    • Self-Learning: I’m comfortable with and proactive in seeking communities and networking on my own.
  7. What’s my end goal?
    • Bootcamp: I’m looking for a comprehensive, fast-track approach to transition into a new career.
    • Self-Learning: I’m learning more for personal growth, hobby, or at a relaxed pace towards professional transition.
  8. Do I need external motivation?
    • Bootcamp: I need a motivating environment and benefit from peer competition and collaboration.
    • Self-Learning: I’m self-motivated and can tackle challenges on my own.
  9. How do I handle questions or roadblocks?
    • Bootcamp: I’d like instant access to teachers and peers to clear doubts and get assistance.
    • Self-Learning: I’m adept at researching, using online forums, and experimenting to solve problems.
  10. How do I want to showcase my skills?
  • Bootcamp: I want a recognized certificate or badge to enhance my CV or LinkedIn profile.
  • Self-Learning: I’m comfortable building and showcasing a portfolio based on my personal projects to potential employers.


5) Conclusion: discovering your path with Le Wagon’s Bootcamp or  our free online courses

Navigating the world of coding and data science requires clarity on one’s learning objectives and career goals. If you’re looking to make a significant impact on your career and seek a comprehensive, structured, and hands-on learning experience, we highly recommend opting for a bootcamp. The structured curriculum, dedicated instructors, and vibrant community can be the game-changers in your professional journey. However, if you’re still on the fence or would like a taste of what coding entails, feel free to kickstart your learning with our free courses available at start.lewagon.com. Whichever path you choose, remember that the tech world thrives on continuous learning and adaptability. Happy coding!

Coding Bootcamps vs Self-Taught: Which is best for you?
If you’re interested in learning to code but are unsure if you should go down a self-teaching route, read on. We’re here to help you weigh the pros and cons of attending a coding bootcamp and help you make the best decision for yourself.
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