Thinking about learning to code? Learn how to pick the right coding school just for you. 

By Amrit Judge

Learning how to code seems to be the latest (not so) secret to success. We’ve covered Hacker Schools in the past, and there’s no doubt the phenomenon is growing.

I spoke with two women who learned to code and got some invaluable insights to share.

Taking the First Step

Whether you’re looking for a change like Jacinda Zhong, a Ruby on Rails Launch Academy apprentice or you’ve determined it’s the natural next step like Saron Yitbarek, the Hacker in Resident at New York Tech Meetup, the decision to even consider learning how to code can be a difficult one.

In order to learn about what coding entails it is important to do your homework. Take some time to take introductory courses online or play around with some learn-on-your-own programs. Those programs aren’t the end all, be all but they will definitely get you acquainted with what the world of programming is all about.

“It’s great that there are so many free resources, but it’s hard to determine which is the best. ” -Jacinda Zhong, Ruby Rails Launch Academy Apprentice

Which School is Right For You?

This part of the process not only requires lots of googling, but also some smart networking. Both Zhong and Yitbarek emphasized the need to talk to alums and actual coders. Learn as much as you can about the program, post-program outlook, the people, the community, and the city.

Location seems to be a common deciding factor for most students. Zhong is finishing up at Launch Academy in Boston while Yitbarek is a Flatiron School NYC alumna. Going to Hacker School is a full-time commitment, not the 40 hours a week kind but rather the 60-80 hours kind.

In this virtually social world nothing beats an offline, in person community. “Chances are, if you’re stuck on something, someone else is probably stuck on it too,” said Zhong.

The classroom environments are resourceful and very supportive. While every experience is unique, “it comes down to what you thought, expected, and how much you put into it,” said Yitbarek.

Once you’re in the classroom, it’s your job to be proactive and take charge of your education. This is for you. It’s okay to be the person that asks a lot of questions. It’s vital to make the most of your time.

Both Zhong and Yitbarek spoke to the diversity and the versatility at their schools. While the male to female ratio is still unbalanced, students came from many different backgrounds and industries — which means you learn more than just coding. You are able to share smarts and expertise around your respective fields.

“It’s hard as hell. And that’s okay. And it’s okay that you’re stuck all the time.” -Saron Yitbarek, Hacker in Resident at New York Tech Meetup

The Benefits of Learning to Code

Learning how to code is not easy. It can be more of an emotional journey than a technical one. It’s not a journey that you have to embark on alone. In fact, it’s easier when you work with other people.

Going to coding school will not make you a great coder. Rather, it’s an in depth introduction to the ever-evolving world of technology. Making projects and building products relevant to yourself is key to having a great experience.

Whether or not you decide to learn how to code, remember Yitbarek’s words, “fear is not a good excuse to not do something, ever.”

Did you go to coding school? How did you choose the right school?