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I asked this before and go downvoted hard so someone said I should try posting here... Any help would be MASSIVELY helpful.

I'm doing Udacity, Udemy, Codecademy, Lynda, and edX. I'm learning Java (my favorite), MySQL, Python (the hardest), Javascript, HTML, CSS, and just began to learn C. I work hard on them and I love doing it. OK, so I was visiting my bro and his family last week, and I told them I was doing online courses for programming. And they basically laughed their asses off at "free education" and told me I was living in a "fantasy". I'm 18, and while I'm not downplaying the idea of going to college. I just think it's a waste when I can have more fun learning online and save my money.

However, I know a degree gets your foot in the door. However, they kinda drained what motivation I had to continue doing the courses. Anyone have any thoughts, success stories, or advice to keep me going? Is anyone else in the same boat? Also I was going to do some open source work and build my own projects to get some experience.

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marked as duplicate by Martijn Pieters, MichaelT, GlenH7, Telastyn, World Engineer Oct 4 '13 at 19:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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I don't know if I've been smart or lucky, but I do not have a degree yet am making a comfortable living. Plenty of software developers are self-taught. –  Martijn Pieters Oct 4 '13 at 18:43
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Moreover, I find that plenty of so-called developers with degrees are barely worth calling developers, so it can go either way. –  Martijn Pieters Oct 4 '13 at 18:44
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Thanks! If you don't mind me asking how did you do it? –  DevonAero Oct 4 '13 at 18:47
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No degree, professional developer straight out of highschool. I will say however that negotiating starting salary has been difficult because of lack of a degree, but past that point I have had no detrimental experiences (minus having no cool frat stories to share in the lunch room). –  rlemon Oct 4 '13 at 18:48
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2 Answers 2

First things first, I have not completed a degree; I have worked as a professional software engineer for about 8 years now (at time of writing).

And they basically laughed their asses off at "free education" and told me I was living in a "fantasy".

Sure. I don't have a lot of experience with these online education resources, but the old adage "you get what you pay for" seems striking. Good teachers are rare, and worth their weight in gold. As someone involved with hiring, I would give these free programs zero credit - I care what you know, and I care what you can do.

No class is going to make you a good programmer. Experience programming makes you a good programmer.

I just think it's a waste when I can have more fun learning online and save my money.

I hear this all the time, and it's completely off base. College is (statistically) the single most profitable investment you will make in your entire life. Even now, 15 years into my career, I make about $10-20k less than my degree'd peers. Most of that was because my first 7 years were spent "getting my foot in the door" doing sys-admin and QA work. Even though I can do everything someone with 15 years of experience can do (and then some), I "only" have 8 years of development experience. And let's not talk about how much less I made doing those jobs rather than development. Oh, or the 3 different times in my career where I was told "I would love to promote you, but our HR policy prohibits it".

I have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 (and counting) by not having a degree. No undergraduate program you could possibly attend will cost that much with all of the grants, scholarships and other financial aid available.

Go to college.

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Do note that the presence of a degree opens the doors for many white collar jobs (no matter what the degree is in). If one finds themselves not cut out for programming (something one can find out in college), without a degree one may find themselves lumped with all the rest of the unskilled workers for other jobs. –  MichaelT Oct 4 '13 at 19:11
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Just from what I have heard, as much as people really love a strong education, I heard some employers are very aware of people who actually don't have a degree in CS or related. It shows drive and passion.

I won a hackthon before and got contacted by a recruiter once and he said he didn't even look at my education credentials. I feel nowadays there is such a huge demand for people who can code that it really does not matter how you learn it. You just have to show it.

Like you said though having an education does help you get your foot in the door but I suggest going to Hackathons and showing off that you can code. Take part in open-source projects because companies LOVE that (probably more than having an education sometimes).

I am not saying you should ditch college though -- it's really fun, you make a lot of friends, and make life-long memories but in summary no you do not NEED a strong education to become a programmer. Many have done it and they have interviews for a reason.

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