Which Is Better for Your Career - College or a Coding Bootcamp?

How is a BS in CS from a big name CS university (Berkeley, Stanford, CMU, UIUC) different from a intense coding bootcamp training? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Abhinav Sharma, Product Designer at Quora, on Quora:

How is a BS from a big name Computer Science university different from an intense bootcamp coding training? Let's first get the job/salaries thing out of the way. Diligently doing a good programming boot camp can probably get you the same job as a new grad software engineer from one of these universities and be able to hold on to it. When I worked as a new Software Engineer at Facebook out of school (2012-2014), I was using a very small percent of what I learnt at CMU at the job, stuff I mostly picked up in the first two semesters.

The part of education that I got at CMU that I value and would not have gotten at a boot camp prioritized problem solving over skill building.

  • A hard math class is the kind of thing software engineers reminisce about. You hardly use those skills day-to-day but the process of learning how to decompose large insurmountable problems into small chunks that you can test.
  • CMU's OS class is loved, respected and feared. It's capstone project is writing a kernel, which again almost no software engineer does, but is a solid package of building your problem solving skills.
  • Independent research helps you find a problem worth solving, or an area you'd like to expand the world's knowledge in, and execute against it. This is perfect for self-discovery and personal management skills.
  • There are tools that make college a good place for finding people with shared interests that are broader than the same professional goal.

Overall, it changed my attitude toward problem solving, I stopped being intimidated by new challenges and just got comfortable with asking lots of small questions until I figured out a problem. I'm not sure I would've gotten that out of boot camp. But did I need to go to CMU to figure all this out? Probably not.

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