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Haha kids, you're all dead wrong. Here's my story.
There is a thing called “emergence”. This is a fundamental property of our universe. It works 100% of the time. It can't be stopped, it can't be mitigated. Everything you see around you is an emergent phenomenon.
Emergence is triggered when a lot of similar things come together and interact. One water molecule cannot be dry or wet, but if you have many, after a certain number the new property emerges — wetness. The system becomes _wet_.
Professionalism is an emergent phenomenon too, and its water molecules are abstract knowledge. Learn tech things you're interested in, complete random tutorials, code, and after a certain amount of knowledge molecules is gained, something clicks inside your head, and you become a professional.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts here. Uni education can make you a professional seemingly quicker, but it's not because uni knowledge is special, it's because uni is a perfect environment to absorb a lot of knowledge in a short period of time.
It happened to me too. I started coding in Pascal in fifth grade of high school, and I did it till sixth. Then, seventh to ninth were spent on my uni's after-school program. After ninth grade, I drop out of high school to get to this uni's experimental program. First grade of uni, and we're making a CPU. Second grade, and we're doing hard math, C and assembly.
And finally, in the third grade, it happens. I was sitting there in the classroom, it was late, and I was writing a recursive sudoku solver in Python. And I _felt_ the click. You cannot mistake it for anything else. It clicks, and you're a changed person. Immediately, I realized I can write everything. Needless to say, I was passing everything related to code afterwards with flying colours.
From that point, everything I did was just gaining more and more experience. Nothing changed fundamentally.
Emergence is forever. If you learn constantly, even without a concrete defined path, I can guarantee you that you _will_ become a professional. This is backed by the universe itself. You cannot avoid becoming one if you're actively accumulating emergence points.
Here's the list of projects I made in the past 11 years: https://notion.so/uyouthe/...
Just do it!™️
Thinking about writing an app? just do it!
Thinking about creating a website? Just do it!
Thinking about the game? You just lost!7
Find what you want to build. Watch some videos. Code. Grab some books. Code. Find some friends to code. Code.
And learn some theory to improve your code. Code.
Get a job. Code. Get paid.1
i think formal education is the best, because it teaches good practices and all the whys of programming. it requires a lot of discipline and effort, but actually sitting down and studying theory is good for us12
I think a good path to dev education is if you are interested in it as a teen and try out coding and keep failing. Persistence and interest will bring you farther than just going straight to uni/dev school.1
As a teacher myself, I will always advice young people to go to school. Though I imagine it differs on the quality of education in your country.
I live in the Netherlands and here it's quite good overall. It's no Ivy League and there are plenty of exceptions but overall any technical study here is a good study.
I also teach at a small school (220 software engineering students) so I actually know my students and what generally need to get ahead.
But my main reasons for actually doing a study instead of going the self-taught route:
1. You spend +/- 4 years in presence of peers that are more or less in the same life phase as you are. You will make friends for life.
2. Companies value a diploma. Good for you that you landed a job on your 19th. Just wait until your 25, wanna switch jobs and don't even get to the second round of any application process because your CV does not list a diploma. This might change in the future but not for the next 5-10 years.
3. You will learn foundational stuff about most thing IT-related. Some things you'll never use. Some thing you'll use unknowingly every single day
4. It teaches discipline without major impact on your life if you fail something. OK, you failed a course. So what? Take it next year and take the time to do a side-project or internship during your study delays. It will teach you some life lessons without it costing you a job or your life savings, and you get some extra time to learn as well!
5. Retirement age by the time you retire will be 75. There's plenty of time to work. Why not spend 4 years with peers in a relatively safe and fun environment first?
TL;DR - small schools are actually fun, attend one
Get a bachelors degree or higher from a decent uni or college. It's gives you a solid foundation teaching you stuff that you wouldn't otherwise spend time on because frankly it's shit boring. Like compiler technology and low-level programming languages. I believe this broader understanding which eventually allows you to become a better developer and architect.
Yes, the first year at a real job will teach you a ton more relevant stuff than 3 years at uni. But that's just not what it's about. Ignorant people just think it is.5
I like the German System. You learn theory and Real Life practice in conjuncture. It teaches you the Industrie at large and the theory behind it13
If you really like math or theory, I think a degree or a few is the way to go. Plus, you can get a head start in your career that way. However, I think I would have not gone to college in hindsight and self-studied since I am regretting the career field now.1
Best path depends on where you are in life and what you can afford.
Used to be the case that formal college/uni for K-12 graduates was a great path, provided you had the tenacity to stick with the program.
I had almost dropped out of my bachelor of programming systems 4year programme because it was too strict for my lazy ass, but it was totally on me to not be giving it my best.
Now, fast forward to today's age we have a lot of accelerated paths a person can take to get the foot in - bootcamps are successful option for many, but you need to immerse yourself and give it your all to start getting a feel for software dev mindset.
Self-teaching is and was a viable option, but you run a risk of embeddding a lot of potential mistakes to your thinking/process which can make it hard to work in real scenarios with other people.
In short, college and bootcamps are still king, I think
Got pissed that my story delayed the whole project by 3 weeks (major story, lots of changes, and management decided to put me in a few extra activities outside of the project).
Stayed up until like 23:00 to deliver PR.1
I keep having this recurring idea that I can fill in the gaps in my education by writing video games that allow me to explore those topics. This would force me to learn the subject well enough to share it with other people. So it would not be just surface level.
I keep thinking of a program that explores and visualizes math topics and programming topics. I would really like to have a program that allows me to visualize memory cells for algorithm exploration. Or a really nice graphing calculator in the computer that allows me to view multiple graphs to compare and contrast equations.
What holds me back is both math and CS are huge topics. I feel like any kind of playground would only cover a small subset. Ideally whatever I make should be extendable over time to add content and topics. It would need to be somewhat fun as well.
I can imagine an AI training program where you help your character navigate a room of hazards or die. This could be one such fun challenge.1