"We can't wait to learn HTML! Should we sign up for this bootcamp? Is it worth it? Can we balance it with our other commitments?"

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Zara, Joe, and Sam stared excitedly at the computer. They all have decided to start learning to code and are browsing the Internet to view their options. "I'm confused! I don't know if I should do a bootcamp or self-study!" exclaimed Zara.

A woman acting confused.

Today, there are lots of people hoping to learn coding who have either taken bootcamps or studied on their own.

There are a few important things to consider when deciding which option is best for you!

Pros & Cons of a Coding Bootcamp

There are a variety of coding bootcamps available online. You can choose a bootcamp that focuses on a specific coding language or a bootcamp that exposes you to multiple programming languages!

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Bootcamp Pros

  • Structured & guided lessons might encourage creativity and exploration

  • Access to industry knowledge from qualified & experienced instructors

  • Feedback & teacher support provide opportunities for extra help and accountabilty

  • Potential certification options

  • Can be project-based & portfolio-focused

  • Potential community support through cohort-style bootcamps

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Bootcamp Cons

  • Not a lot of flexibility with set curriculum & lessons, fixed class times & meeting schedules

  • Fixed assignments & projects may limit exploration and creativity

  • The cost and timeline might not work for you

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Pros & Cons of Self-Studying

An alternative to a coding bootcamp consists of self-studying either a specific coding language or multiple different languages.

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Self-Study Pros

  • Potentially reduced cost

  • Lots of free online resources available on the Internet

  • Move at your own pace, with lots of flexibility to choose your topics & curriculum

  • Independence means the ability to experiment & document your learning journey on your own terms

  • You can make it more project-focused — build out personal projects in more depth for portfolios!

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Self-Study Cons

  • No teacher for direct feedback, extra help, or guidance when you get stuck

  • Potentially less community support

  • Loose structure means you're in charge of the topics & lessons

  • Requires discipline — you're solely responsible for your own learning

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Bootcamp or Self-Study?

Let's look at two scenarios:

  1. Zara is currently weighing her options to either take a coding bootcamp or self-study. She doesn't have a lot of free time in her schedule but she knows that she learns best when there are fixed deadlines. She is hoping to switch careers in about a year or so and feels like a certification may be helpful.

A coding bootcamp may be better for Zara. She prefers set assignments and deadlines, and she could look for a bootcamp that doesn't require learners to all meet at the same time each week.

Coding bootcamps also have a fixed timeframe and a certification option, and Zara has a timeline in mind for when she wants to switch careers.

A diploma. Photo by Lewis Keegan on Unsplash

  1. Joe is also thinking about a coding bootcamp vs. self-studying. He is hoping to learn a few coding languages to help him expand his skill set in his current job. Joe has a tight budget and loves to experiment and explore things in depth. He has always been a very independent learner.

Self-studying may work better for Joe. He is looking to generally expand his knowledge and skills and he likes to learn independently.

He can choose what topics he wants to learn and do it on his own schedule, as he doesn't have a set timeframe. Joe also may find self-studying to be potentially cheaper.

A person studying on a computer. Photo by Samuel Bourke on Unsplash

Sam's Decision

Sam recently decided that she wanted to learn Java. For the last few days, she's been researching different coding bootcamps online and has been thinking about if she should self study instead.

She is hoping to switch careers in six months and wants to create a portfolio as well as obtain a certificate.

She learns best with guided feedback and also when she has the flexibility to experiment. Sam is also a very independent learner but doesn't mind deadlines and wants to expand her network.

A person typing on a computer. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash


Based on her situation, which option would work best for Sam?

Take Action

A person weighing their options with hand gestures.

The next time you're deciding between a coding bootcamp or self-studying, keep the following tips in mind to help you make a decision:


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