The history of the world is rife with polarizing head-to-head debatable topics: PC or Mac, Michael Jordan or LeBron James, Coke or Pepsi, Team Edward or Team Jacob, iPhone (iOS) or Android. It's human nature to pick a side, and then fight tooth and nail for that side. One of the latest great debates is in education - what is best for your future IT career, traditional university degree or online boot camp?
On one side of this debate, a traditional degree is arguably the first place that most would think to go in order to be trained as a computer scientist, but also comes with a very large price tag. On the other side of the debate is a more cost-effective alternative ... which is one reason I have chosen to shed some light on online boot camps, with the help of some friends at Bloc.
Bloc's Coding Bootcamp, is a mentor-led online program that helps students achieve their full programming career potential through project-oriented curriculum and plenty of career support. Bloc promises to get you into your career of choice faster, and with less financial sacrifice, than a traditional degree or range of other options. The key to Bloc's success is online mentors.
"If you're talking about fixing your car, what's the first thing you do if something goes wrong with your car?" asks Clint Schmidt, COO at Bloc. "You go find the one person in your life that knows a lot about cars, and you ask them." This is what Bloc has to offer - a fast, affordable way to become a programmer, with the help of your own personal mentor. But why does this place it above all other coding education options?
Schmidt puts the options of a future student into "4 buckets." These are the choices one has when deciding on where to best spend their time and money when seeking a degree or certification for the first time or for a career change.
The student can return to school for a traditional degree. The problem with this choice is that it could take a long time to get enrolled, and the study itself is not short. "It's very time intensive - it's very expensive when you consider both the tuition and the opportunity costs associated with lost income while you're at school," said Schmidt. "Traditional universities and colleges haven't really demonstrated they're effective at delivering the types of job and skills that our economy needs."
The student can decide to just figure things out on their own. There are some very good options that can be found in this bucket, including Codecademy and Code School. In fact, Schmidt says that at Bloc they encourage students who want to go this route to do it, but to realize you can only go so far using one of these self-directed (and self-motivated) tools. There's a gap between what these programs provide and being job ready.
The student can attend an in-person (on premise) boot camp. Popular examples of this include Dev Bootcamp, App Academy and The Flatiron School. There are similar problems associated with in-person boot camps, as there are with getting a traditional degree. You're faced with a lot of extra costs that come with a classroom setting. Another issue is that it is hard for the instructors to give each student the attention they need and deserve. Some students may already have a lot of coding background while other students don't have any. It would be hard for any teacher to meet the needs of such a diverse group. (You can dive into an engrossing firsthand account of on premise boot camp training from our friends at GoCertify.)
"There's only so much teaching time to go around," explained Schmidt, "so they really have to have this rigid program that they follow ... and then they kind of move on in a sequence. And if you're moving slower than that sequence or you're moving faster than that sequence, tough luck."
The students can sign up for an online coding boot camp like Bloc. With Bloc, there is no need to quit your job, or move to attend school. With everything online, costs are cut significantly and you're able to put in the hours on your own time. As a student, your needs are met because you have an experienced and carefully selected mentor who is assigned to help you along the way. They teach you what you need to know to flourish in the industry. "You go through all this process with your mentor together, throughout the balance of the program. So there's no teach to the middle, they teach to you based on your interest and your speed," said Schmidt. "We find really great results with our approach." There is also no application process at Bloc, which means anyone can try their hand at coding, no matter what their coding background and what they want out of a future career.
To prove its cost effectiveness, Bloc has developed what it calls the True Cost Calculator. This calculator is similar in purpose to CertMag.com's very own Salary Calculator. The calculator takes into account where a person is living and factors in the cost of having to leave your current job to do on-site training, and the length of the program. There is no other tool in the boot camp industry like Bloc's True Cost Calculator. It helps you see how much more effective it would be for an aspiring junior developer to use Bloc's online mentoring system. Try it for yourself here.
Because it's affordable, fast and becoming more and more credible every day � an online boot camp will help anyone who's beginning their career or already in a career and needing a change. Boot camps have the tools to get you exactly where you want to be. With its in depth mentorship program, Bloc is separating itself from the pack as the boot camp of the future.
"That's why we designed Bloc the way that we did, by developers, for developers, the way the developers are most likely to learn," said Schmidt. "We just designed this thing from the beginning with efficacy in mind, not necessarily marketability, and not necessarily for the amount of profit you can generate, it's what's the most effective."