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Should I teach myself to code or get a college CS degree? This is a question that many face. Software development is a field that is heavily reliant on skills. So surely teaching yourself to code should be enough right? Wrong. There are many skills that Developers now require besides just coding. They need time management skills, organisational skills, people skills, translating skills, negotiating skills.. the list goes on. These skills are often gained through completing an undergraduate degree. You work to develop Software in many different environments, providing you with more than just coding skills.


For most CS degrees, there are impending deadlines that students have to meet. This adds pressure to learn quickly under harsh time constraints. Teaching yourself to code can be spaced out over a year or two, so you can end up with the same result BUT lack the learning of how to deal with time pressures.


Most CS degrees have group projects. These are great for learning how to interact within a multidisciplinary team, how to behave, and how to communicate technical concepts effectively. These are excellent skills to have while working in Software development.


There are many classes you have to take in a CS degree, and chances are you will need help at some stage. Communication is key - you can find the right method to ask for help, and negotiate for information to help you reach your goal. A transferable skill that can be taken into the workplace.


Certainly there is some level of prestige that comes with having a degree. This comes from the level of communication required to simply navigate a degree. Also it is, in a way, a validation stamp that says... "Yes - you have the skills to be a Software developer".


Often times people find social networking easier in a college setting. As everyone is present for the same reason as you, it's easier to make friends. And it is no secret that job referrals are common in Software development. If you have a large network, you can refer/be referred for job opportunities far easier.


College degrees far outweigh teaching yourself to code (Or coding bootcamps), as they provide you more skills than simply knowing how to code. These skills can then be transferred into the workplace and help you out for the long-term. When faced with what to choose, there is no doubt a CS degree is the way to go.

However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't start brushing up on your coding knowledge right now. If you're interested in learning to code in languages like Python, Javascript, or Java, check out our Coding Essentials Guidebook for Developers. This book covers core coding concepts and tools for people who have considered learning to code but don't know where to start.

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