If you've been considering going back to school, a computer science degree might sound like a great way to jump-start your career. After all, learning to code means you'll be eligible forfast-paced and high-paying jobsas acomputer programmer, a web developer,an app programmer and much more. But before you write out that tuition check, take a moment to assess your options. Believe it or not, you can get a quality computer science education for free online. We talked to Brad's Deals developers Keith and Lauren to find out how.
"Really, there are so many options out there that it can be almost staggering," said Lauren."Luckily, that means it's easier than ever to learn how to program on your own! There's this idea that you can't be a programmer if you don't have a degree, and frankly it's poppycock. For most programming positions, employers are looking for somebody who knows their stuff regardless of how they learned it. In fact, many companies will even pay you to learn! Companies that hire apprentices or junior developers will often take in people who have self-taught to a workable level and pay them to train up with the company and learn on the job."
In fact, only 5/11 people on theBrad's Deals engineering team have a computer science degree. The rest are either self-taught or are bootcamp graduates. Here are Lauren and Keith's favorite resources for people who want the knowledge without the high price tag.
Brad's Deals developers Keith and Lauren share their tips for learning to code on the cheap!Codecademy
Lauren says this is a great place to start. "Codecademy walks you through the basics in an interactive way, making sure you understand each concept before you build more on top of it," she said."They have tracks in several different languages, too! I started learning Ruby with Codecademy and by the time I had completed the course I felt like I could actually do a few things on my own."Code Avengers
One of Keith's picks, Code Avengers is similar to Codeacademy, and uses games to teach you the basics of coding, app building, and game creation.Code Combat
Lauren calls this site "stupidly fun!"
"Code combat teaches you about code through a dungeon-crawler video game you can play in your browser," she said."This is how I tricked my boyfriend into writing code—I literally sent him the link without telling him it had anything to do with coding and he FELL FOR IT. They have a few different languages, too. Not the best for learning a truly solid set of fundamentals, but good for getting a feel for what code does and how it looks and works."Code.org
"This is one of the organizations that has been leading the charge in getting coding into the classroom," said Keith."They have a great sitewith coding tutorials oriented towards kids--that can be equally fun for adults!"Try Clojure
"Many languages have their own'try-me' sites," said Keith."Try Clojure is a nice walk through of some basic clojure syntax without assuming too much. We use Clojure a lot in data processing here at Brad's Deals."Treehouse
A site with awesome interactive video tutorials, Lauren likes Treehouse because you can get a free month trial. "Then you have to pay $25/month," she said. "In the prep work for Dev Bootcamp they had my cohort sign up for the free demo and go through a bunch of their tutorials, and it was absolutely worth it."Khan Academy
Laurensays this site is a good place to learn anything, and their one-hour coding basics course looks promisingrepl.it
"One of the barriers to entry some people may have with learning to code is setting up their machine to run a particular language," said Keith."This can be especially difficult on Windows. This siteprovides an interactive environment for people to try various programming languages without having to install anything on their own machines."Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby
"OK, this is kind of a weird one," said Lauren. "But it's so dear to my heart that I can't help but put it in here! The guy who wrote this book was a mysterious Ruby programmer who went by the name 'Why' and never revealed his true identity to anyone (although some people have figured it out). I say 'was' because, as a true tortured-soul genius, he completely disappeared some years back. 'Why's Poignant Guide' is an introduction to Ruby that's part zine, part comic book, part poetry, incredibly touching, and completely nuts. This is the only programming book you'll ever find that has a soundtrack. If you're drawn more to art than to numbers, if you like things that are strange and engaging, if you hate reading textbooks because they're too dry: this is the programming book for you."Free online college courses
Many colleges and universities offer their online courses for free. Lauren suggests checking out Coursera , MIT Open Courseware and Udemy .
"Taking a free online computer science course is 100percentworth it!" she said. "I know MIT has some great ones, which are good for getting a grasp on the more science-y parts of programming."Free Coding Bootcamps
"There are also some coding bootcamps out there that are free," said Lauren"My favorite is Ada Developer's Academy , a free year-long coding school for women in Seattle."
Here are a few more of Lauren's top picks for free coding bootcamps:Philly Dev Camp (Philidelphia, PA) Recurse Center (New York, NY) Founders & Coders (London, UK) LAMP Camp (Atlanta, GA) Coding House (Woodside, CA)
Would you ever consider one of these free online coding schools? Let us know in the comments!