Programming Courses : Should I ?

A common dilemma encountered when starting with a new course like competitive programming, application development, machine learning etc. is whether to try learning by implementation considering you have some basic knowledge of the field or to pursue a course ( paid or unpaid ).

So to facilitate this decision I’m going to discuss some points that can help shave off important time taken to arrive at a decision and enable you to make a more informed decision. I will discuss three courses of action undertaken generally when tackling a new course : hands-on learning, unpaid courses and paid course.

Hands-on Learning

If you have some rudimentary understanding of C++ or Java because you had computer science as part of your college curriculum and you want to get into competitive programming or if you have worked on application development with some friends and want to become a full stack developer, the first thought is always “I don’t need focussed guidance as such, Maybe I can learn as I do it”.

I am strongly against this approach of learning. You may have learnt a few essentials but there may still be a large gap in your basics. When you start programming directly you will encounter a lot of higher level concepts and that too at once. It may get overwhelming. And if you try to get into details of these concepts you may not know what depth of understanding is enough or it may open a door to another set of concepts and so on and you might end up in an inescapable web. If you are great at managing this issue and exit the web unscathed you will realise something very important, “Wow, where did the time go ?”. That is the major setback of this approach. You may learn well using this approach but you will end up spending at least thrice the time you would have consumed via structured learning of courses. And in today’s age time is a luxury. You must have heard time equals money. So you may end up losing a lot.

Unpaid Courses

An advantage of this digital age is the ability to connect with people remotely and share their knowledge. An abundance of free courses are available on YouTube, Coursera, Blogs etc. Some are taught by well renowned instructors or field experts who would otherwise be inaccessible. The opportunity to learn via these courses is a boon to millennials. The structured outline of concepts with carefully curated content with it’s depth on topics gradually increasing with the course is amazing. They will help establish a firm base which is extremely important and then build the tower of knowledge level by level. You will also save a lot of time compared to the previous approach.

However, there are a few shortcomings. Since there is no practical return from the course the instructor’s vested interest generally vanes after the tutorials have been uploaded. After watching the videos you are on your own, they won’t take interest in resolving individual queries. There is often no doubt resolving mechanism available. Even if there is the process may be too slow which is not good for learning. Also consumer feedback or consumer satisfaction which is central to improvement in businesses is not given much importance here. So the course material will remain the same and probably not accommodate trends and hence become slightly outdated as well.

Paid Courses

These courses have a well structured lineup of concepts. They invest heavily on consumer satisfaction and improvement via feedback. They have a vested interest in improving learning for you and keep on adding or updating their resources to enhance user experience. They have dedicated platforms set up for doubt resolution and will always be a click away in case you ever need any assistance. The most important advantage of these courses is community relationships development. You meet plenty of like minded people learning with you who may down the line help you with job opportunities and career advice. This may seem trivial right now but these connections become very useful later on in the industry. The company offering the course also has a good alumni network which can be useful to get a referral and an interview with otherwise inaccessible companies. Finally, the company tries to maintain a good relationship with you and provide assistance to help you succeed even after you complete the course since the company reputation is related to the success ratio of their alumni network and also a good word of mouth from their alumni is a great source for organic growth and customer acquisition.

My experience with paid courses with Coding Blocks has been great. It may seem shocking but I have done six courses from Coding Blocks and I attribute my growth to the great teachers I had there. They later offered me a Teacher Assistant position, SDE Intern position, helped me get an Intern opportunity in UK and I am now working as a course instructor there before I leave for my job. My opinion may be highly biased but it is only because I have seen phenomenal returns for each rupee spent on their courses. So do check out their courses via the link I have shared above.

Please show your appreciation by applauding this post. Let me know what else you would like to know about in comments and I would try to publish a post on it soon. Keep geeking it out 🤓.

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Aarnav Jindal

Avid programmer chasing developments in the dynamic and invigorating world of technology 🤓