Do you like math? Hopefully you do, because you’ll be doing an absolute fuck ton of math while getting your Computer Science degree. I had to take Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Calculus 3, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Engineering Stats, and Calculus based Physics. Seven math classes! These are not easy. In fact, they have been the hardest classes I’ve ever had to take.
You also need to take quite a bit of general education classes. Are you comfortable writing 1,000+ word papers? What about 5,000+ word papers about something you don’t care about in the slightest? Sometimes it felt like I was writing more English papers than I was actually writing code.
You’ll need to take History classes, Philosophy classes, Anthropology classes, public speaking classes, English classes, Match classes, etc. If your goal is to learn how to program and get a high paying job, this will feel like a huge waste of time, because it is a giant waste of time.
What you’ll be learning
When someone says they want to go to a “coding bootcamp”, 9 times out of 10 they are referring to one geared towards web development. I’ll tell you this right now, your primary focus will not be Web Development when pursuing your Computer Science degree.
Do you want to learn modern WordPress development (not some bullshit page builder stuff) and use PHP? You probably won’t, and the PHP you’ll be taught will probably be completely outdated.
You won’t be learning web development when you go the Computer Science route.
You’ll take very difficult math and physics classes. You’ll learn how to write applications for the operating system, data structures, algorithms, how the underlying code you write works on the machine level, the fundamentals of programming, how an operating system works on a very low level, computing theory, computer architecture, the fundamentals of how a network works, cryptography… things like that.
If you’re into that sort of thing, by all means you’ll probably have an excellent time at University. However, it is very rigorous, extremely intense, and all together it takes 4 years. Do you really need a CS degree to get a high paying job in tech? No, you don’t.
Coding Bootcamp (Web Development)
I think the name “Coding bootcamp” is kind of disingenuous. The name is very general, but it’s become synonymous with “Web Development Bootcamp”. So, whenever you read or hear the phrase “coding bootcamp” just know that 99% of the time the person is referring to a Web Development Bootcamp.
You can go to a University and get a Web Development and Design degree. I know Purdue (https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/degrees/web-programming-and-design) is offering one. They use modern web technologies. They have a list of everything you’ll be learning and the classes you’ll be taking too. Looks alright to me! Tuition alone is $9,208 a year, if you factor in everything else it’s $46,000 a year…. and again University is 4 years. So at minimum you’d end up paying $36,832 for a degree, and maximum $184,000…. no thanks.
There’s an abundance of options out there for learning web development. In fact, you can become self-taught and land a job! But, it’ll probably take you many, many years. Years that you could have been working making 100k a year. Tutorial purgatory is a real thing, and it’s extremely common when trying to go the self-taught route.
If you were going to go the self taught route, I’d recommend you get a tutor and have them as your mentor. Someone with a lot of experience who knows what they’re talking about, and knows how to teach.
This only works because instead of watching a Brad Traversy write 100% perfect code making no mistakes in his React tutorial for the hundredth time, you have someone creating a clear outline you can follow. You’ll have someone in your corner you can ask questions and get an answer too instead of scouring the internet looking for the (probably wrong) answer.
There’s also Bootcamps out there that offer that one-on-one mentorship too.
Before you continue reading you need to know that there are a lot of shitty coding bootcamps out there. You need to seriously know how to do your research to find out if it’s a shitty coding bootcamp or not.
A bootcamp is generally the option most people will turn to after giving self-taught a try. It’s cheaper than university, it’s more cost efficient than spending years learning on your own for “free”, and it’s a lot shorter (6 months) than a 4 year degree.
I attended a Web Development / Web Design bootcamp while also attending University for my Computer Science degree.
By far the biggest difference is the things you learn. Since bootcamps are generally 6 months long they only want to teach you the information absolutely necessary.
There’s only two reasons why I’d recommend getting a Computer Science Degree.
First, it looks good on your resume. When applying for a job it could give you that extra edge to get you an interview (but it wont get you a job).
Second, internships. If you can’t get an internship while getting your Computer Science degree then you are actively trying to not get one. There are resources upon resources given to you as a student that practically give you an internship.
There’s a service where if you pay them $100 while being a fulltime student they will find an internship for you.
Companies are practically begging University students to intern for them, and your University will have tons of resources to try and get you those internships. Career fairs, constant emails telling you about new opportunities, career center, etc.
Other than that, I really do not see a reason as to why you should get a Computer Science Degree over attending a bootcamp. If all you want to do is get into Web Development, a Computer Science degree is overkill. If all you want is a 100k a year job out of the gate, attending a good and not shitty bootcamp is cheaper, shorter, and uses technologies you’ll actually need to know on the job.
But, what do you think? This is just my personal experience from attending a coding bootcamp while simultaneously attending university for computer science.