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    I am a Code School Graduate Back to blog

    I am a code school graduate. Code schools are fast becoming the most approachable means of entering the tech industry. They’re far more affordable than college, require very minimal qualifications, and take a much shorter time to complete. They also vastly improve the diversity of the tech industry, which is important, especially as it grows and even replaces many other jobs.
    Prior to attending code school, I attained an associate’s degree in veterinary technology, and worked as a veterinary assistant and then certified technician for about seven years. During that time I also graduated with a bachelor’s degree that was originally meant to be in business administration but ended up being in liberal studies. There is a part of me that now wishes that degree had been in computer science, but another part of me that is very glad it wasn’t, because I probably wouldn’t have finished had that been the case.

    Computer science degrees are very comprehensive. They don’t just teach you how to design a web page or write the code to make it work. They teach you the theory of code, how your computer reads it, and how to write it from the binary and assembly ground up. In comparison, learning to write JavaScript is easy. JavaScript is almost readable at first glance as a spoken language sentence. For example:

    function helloWorld() {
    return 'Hello World!';


    movl $5, -4(%ebp)
    movl $16, -8(%ebp)
    movl -8(%ebp), %eax
    movl -4(%ebp), %edx

    The first example is JavaScript. Even if you don’t know how to code, you’d certainly have an easier time guessing what that code did rather than the obtuse sequence of symbols below it. That example is assembly code that moves values around in a computer’s memory in order to make the JavaScript code actually do stuff. (The two examples don’t actually have anything to do with one another).

    If you were to study for a CS degree, you’d have to learn both of those. And you still may end up working in web, where you’d rarely if ever use either of them. Plus, CS degrees also require an advanced knowledge of math, including calculus, which I have never come close to learning. My source of information for all this is a coworker who is currently studying for a CS degree.

    sourcecodeCode school is a vastly different experience. Almost anyone, at any time, can enter a code school and learn how to program. Entry requirements typically involve solving, or at least trying to solve, a very simple coding problem. You’re not graded on work, don’t have exams, and often work in pairs with the assistance of instructors. Although this might sound too easy, it isn’t. You still have to apply yourself to learning a difficult new skill, and although writing Ruby, JavaScript, PHP, and C++ is arguably easier than writing assembly, it still isn’t easy.

    But the code schools are important because they make a not-so-easy skill easy to approach and easier to learn. It is much easier to start actually working in the field than if you were to devote four or more years to a college degree. There are a lot of technical jobs that do not require any knowledge of assembly or calculus, although they still involve writing code. Many of the people working in those fields are self-taught; others have CS or engineering degrees or degrees unrelated to tech, and increasingly more are code school grads.

    The important thing about code schools is they offer people from various backgrounds—sometimes completely unrelated to tech—the opportunity to gain the knowledge necessary to switch careers. This diversity is important to tech because it increases perspective, brings new ideas and new approaches to problems, and widens the scope of the tech industry. For example, someone with my background could be extremely valuable to a company designing veterinary software—not only could I write the software, I know firsthand what the user experience of that software should be like. I’d likely approach it differently than someone who didn’t have any background or experience in the veterinary industry.

    As more and more jobs become automated, the future of industry appears to be shifting toward relying on people who know how to write software and build websites and apps. Code schools allow a wider demographic of people to learn that skill and contribute to the industry, while bringing their diverse backgrounds with them.


    Tina Ramsey

    Tina Ramsey

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