Thirteen weeks of coding training, $60,000 salary. Should we sign up our kids for coding instead of college?

Yes, tech skills pay off, but should they be paired with a college degree?

At a Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education forum today, the most memorable anecdote came from Michael Robertson, executive director of the Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative, about his daughter’s boyfriend.

The young man graduated college and went to work at a bank, earning $30,000. He hated it. So, at Robertson’s suggestion, he decided to pursue something he enjoyed, web development. He took a 13-week course at General Assembly, a tech, business, and design training center in Ponce City Market – which happened to be the site of the GPEE forum today – and walked into a $60,000-a-year job.

The second part of the story, which was Robertson’s main point, was that even fresh out of coding training, the young man told Robertson last night, “I have this new program that I have to go learn.” Robertson wanted the audience to understand the relentless march of innovation in the tech field.

“Out of school two months, he has something new to learn,” said Robertson. “That’s the new world, folks. We have to learn how to learn new things quickly.”

But I think what stuck with the audience at the “21st Century Skills for a 21st Century Workforce” forum was $60,000 after three months of training.  I suspect people were asking themselves, “Should we all learn coding or at least send our kids to web development classes rather than college?”

Robertson said he disagreed with Gov. Nathan Deal’s push to get more Georgia kids into four-year degree programs. “Everybody needs postsecondary education, but not everybody needs that four-year college experience,” he said.

In the Q&A after the forum, a woman raised the issue of whether the young man’s college background, coupled with the web development training, may be why he was hired at $60,000. Wasn’t it likely companies prefer their tech employees have college degrees?

That is a good question and worth our consideration. A friend’s son never finished college but landed some terrific tech jobs because of his skill in that area and has several industry certifications. However, his company told him he needs the degree to move into management. The bias in favor of the degree remains strong across fields.

I still lean toward the four-year degree for as many kids as possible, if only because higher education teaches students how to debate, think big picture and present a professional self.

I went to a Catholic high school where free discussion was seldom allowed in any class, so college represented the first environment where disagreeing and voicing an opposing view was not only encouraged, but required. (I would not fault my Catholic education on basics. However, it was not strong on questioning the status quo, asking difficult questions or dissenting from conventional stands.)

I agree paying thousands in college tuition is a lot for what could be described as business finishing school, but the skills developed in college go deeper than a bit of polish. College gives students a broader world view, a sense of how you take an idea to a plan to a consensus to a success and the confidence to do so.

At least I think so. What do you think?

Reader Comments 0

21 comments
ByteMe
ByteMe

College definitely gives you the first semi-sanitized taste of real life and how to interact with a broad range of people and situations that people likely won't get living at home with their parents.

But the thing that is important for a lot of recruiters is that college is the first thing you CHOSE to do for 4+ years of your life and that shows them you can stick with something for a long-term (somewhat unspecific) reward, that you can learn a bunch of different things on your own (with a little help), and your grades measured how you fared against others who were similarly motivated.  

You may not need college for a lot of jobs, but college demonstrates something about YOU that a lot of hiring managers see as a differentiator between you and someone else.

CSpinks
CSpinks

What percentage of our state's HS grads has the Reading, Math and Writing skills required for success in the cyber world? Remember that only half had the skills required to pass the GA Power employment screening test.

LarryMajor
LarryMajor

Now you know why so many web pages take forever to load, crash your browser and pull those "long running script" errors.

northernneighbor
northernneighbor

Some basic coding should be mandatory for all middle school students.  In the old days, schools used to teach logic.  Coding is an excellent way to bring logic back into the curriculum.  Teaching logic will help students learn there are consequences to actions.  Wrong decisions lead to wrong results.

Brandon Cheek
Brandon Cheek

More like... Should we sign up our teachers...so they can make a decent salary.

Roger Warner
Roger Warner

I can assure you that those who go to Koding Kamps can indeed make 60k. However they are more jr than jr engineers. There is really a barrier to entry and a glass ceiling for those degree less. Someday if you want to make a career of it you will need a degree. Also we are in an extended tech boom. When the layoffs come and they will come who do think will be the low hanging fruit to pick off?

Sarah Puckett Burns
Sarah Puckett Burns

I teach math... But maybe I could do coding. I'd make more \U0001f609

Shira Newman
Shira Newman

You definitely can if you understand math...

Astropig
Astropig

Astropig(jr)'s first job out of college placed a very,very high emphasis on industry certifications.He's 3 years into his career now,and much of the technology he learned at Georgia Southern has been superseded or made obsolete.If you do that for a living,you have to live it.Doing it for a big paycheck is not going to make you happy for very long. Happily,his life hasn't changed much-he still lives and breathes the techie gestalt.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Astropig 

If a person's aptitude is in technology, that's fine.  But not everyone is built like that.

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @Astropig


"If you do that for a living,you have to live it.Doing it for a big paycheck is not going to make you happy for very long. "


I think that I said more or less the same thing,so we're in (rare) agreement.


Just my opinion,but taking a job for money (implied by the title above) is the surest way that I can think of to be dissatisfied with your employment.Life's way too short to spend your days miserable.

Kate Maloney
Kate Maloney

I am teaching coding to freshmen now - there is a national initiative to expose all high school students to computer science principles.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

$13,500 tuition for 13 weeks- hope the job is waiting!

Annette Laing
Annette Laing

Only if we're fooled into thinking that college is and should be job training. If the jobs are transferred to cheap labor in India ten years later, what else would a young person have to change careers or, radical thought, enjoy a fulfilling life?

Shira Newman
Shira Newman

That is rhe problem. College is for an education. Job training is job training. Somewhere along the way those two got Intermingled. Companies ask for degrees because it is easy to ask for and they don't have to pay for the degrees.

Jenny Robinson Modi
Jenny Robinson Modi

No, but we should teach coding and basic computer science in high school. There aren't enough high school CS programs. To your point, college isn't for all but I would argue, as you did, there are other valuable things you learn in a college environment. An individual needs to know more than coding to be a productive, engaged citizen. We should be striving for more well-rounded students. STEM, while great - my husband is an engineer - is great but it's not for everyone and we need to remember there are other paths to good jobs.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

  A friend sent this note that I wanted to post about whether there really are $60,000-a-year jobs waiting out there for coders:

Hey Maureen, Just a word about 13-week coding schools. My husband went to one, learned a lot and does not regret going. But ... no one waltzed into $60,000/year jobs as promised. He returned to his former field but with new skills, several people just couldn't do it and quit, and several other people stuck with it but realized they were not going to be transitioning to any lucrative coding job. 

The dispiriting thing was that the top two guys in the class, who completely got it and were naturals, also could not get jobs. My husband lost touch with them after about six months, so hopefully they eventually did, but they were competing against candidates with the right degree and the right experience and they had neither. So not that I'm doubting the man's story from the GPEE event, but these schools are not some big answer to a societal problem. At best, they help a few people who already have the aptitude and drive get into the development field. At worst, they take people's money while promising what they can't deliver.

My caveats are

1. You need to have the knack. Coding isn't something that just anyone can sit down and do and excel at in 13 weeks 

2. You may need more than 13 weeks to absorb it all. My husband felt like his brain was full after about 11 weeks. He worked extremely hard all day and into the night, but there was a point where he just couldn't learn anymore. 

3. You may still need to network, tap into connections and use the usual strategies for finding your first dev job. My husband's classmates who just sent out tons and tons of resumes got nothing, which is usually the case for any job.

I think the best potential for these schools are the nonprofit ones that partner with companies and get prospective dev people, especially women and minorities, off to a great start, and then the company hires and continues their training. That makes the most sense to me, to have those partnerships already set up.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

For a meta-analysis of the benefits of a college education, examine the (as I recall it) 900 page tome by Pascarella and Terenzini called, "How College Effects Students."

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

AAcckk!  Should be How College Affects Students.