$25,000 invested and four years later, I tend to wonder about the value of my college degree and whether or not it was worth it. It begs the question that maybe colleges are an outdated system for learning for future generations. However, the majority of us will argue that college is the most logical choice to further your standing in life. It’s ingrained into our subconscious that the only way to be successful in life is to graduate from college.
The issue with that mindset is that college doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the workforce or provide you with skills for a specific job. I can’t tell you how many college courses I have sat through and thought to myself, “Ok, how is knowing the plot of Kite Runner or memorizing the periodic table for a test going to get me a job?” Sure, maybe if I wanted to be a writer or a scientist that could come in handy, but how many of us become Novel Writing Scientists? The point I’m getting at is that the spectrum of information taught in college is incredibly broad. Why can’t we take condensed courses on what we are interested in without all the fluff? Break down those four years into something more manageable and less expensive.
Recently, I attended and graduated from a web development bootcamp and I would like to share my experience and the pros and cons of a web development bootcamp vs. college.
Courses at a web development bootcamp are incredibly condensed and classes tend to go from 9a.m. – 5p.m. After class, students may spend an additional 3–5 hours working on projects or preparing for the next lecture. Additionally, bootcamps teach a specific skill and time isn’t wasted learning skills that would not be used on the job. Due to the condensed course structure, bootcamps typically last about three months.
However, students at a university tend to split their classes over the week while class types range from math, science and grammar to pottery or even weight lifting. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a good pot and it can be nice to get swoll between classes, but those are skills that can be learned for free on our own time. College is a much more relaxed environment where we as individuals are free to “learn about ourselves” and in some rare cases, “find ourselves.”
The cost of tuition for a bootcamp ranges from $10,000–$15,000. In my case, it was $10,000 for a three month program. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds expensive… well it is expensive, but in comparison to college it’s relatively cheap. Depending on your university, tuition may cost $20,000–$50,000, and that price can increase even more depending on the university. $10,000 is a drop in the bucket compared the cost of going to college.
After four years of note taking, lectures, exams, midterms and literally over a hundred pages of typed work (12px font, times new roman, works cited page, single spaced, you know the format), I finally graduated and couldn’t find a career in my field. On top of that, I made a new friend named Sallie Mae that would follow me around everywhere I went no matter how many times I told her I wasn’t interested.
In comparison, two weeks after I graduated from my web development bootcamp, I was able to find a career that I enjoy at Fluid Advertising where I happily build websites and, on occasion, get a game of ping-pong in, or grill burgers or watch Star Wars with coworkers. I think the winner is pretty clear here.