A survey of high school students from earlier this year showed that the likelihood of attending a four-year school sank to 53%; down from 71% in previous years. “High schoolers are putting more emphasis on career training and post-college employment,” the report found. Instead of a protracted and expensive affair with massive long-term debt, the aspiring student essentially wants the educational equivalent of The Ancient One in Marvel’s 2016 classic Dr. Strange: blunt teachings that lead the virtual ignoramus to proficient master in a few mentoring sessions. But that’s fiction.
Or is it.
Those students interested in computer science have discovered “Coding Bootcamps”, which in the span of approximately three months provides students focused learning and a fast lane to programming positions around the world. The Bootcamp Market size grew a mere 5% in 2019, but jumped over 30% in 2020. “The pandemic is contributing to the drop as students choose to delay college either because they can’t afford it or because they don’t want to attend remote classes,” states Axios’s Sarah Grillo paraphrasing University Ventures’ Managing Director, Ryan Craig. “The underlying crises of affordability, completion and employability continue unabated.”
And companies like Apple
The question, though, is if these programs are providing a sufficient foundation for all industries, or if the technically challenging positions in embedded electronics for automotive and aerospace are outside the lines.
According to a Mayuko – a YouTuber who frequently posts on the topic – there are bootcamp campuses in over 85 cities across the United States and Canada with 83% of graduates being employed in programming jobs with an average starting salary of just under $67,000 USD. On average, the tuition is $13,584 with programs taking approximately 15 weeks.
For example, Skylab Coders Academy is the highest-rated provider per Switchup.org and their students receive eleven (11) weeks of intensive, face-to-face instruction in Barcelona or Madrid, Spain. “With more than 20 years in the online education sector, Skylab’s relationship with the industry gives them a unique insight into exactly what skills employers are looking for and allows them to develop syllabi and projects accordingly.”
And so the question is whether there shall be positions for such graduates in long-term mainstay industries like automotive and aerospace. The simple answer is “yes”. Websites, applications and frontend development will be needed for any industry, and both automotive and aerospace are no exception. In the growing era of shopping remotely, dealerships and airlines will require more and more online marketing tools fueled by software developers.
Might this career-quick-start lend itself towards high-paying or stable positions within software product development in these complex fields? In all likelihood, no. The deep knowledge needed for positions such as Software Architect, Product Owner or Software Lead exceed the too-quick bootcamps. “Needless to say,” states GeeksForGeeks.org, “a Software Architect is responsible for many tasks hence, you’re required to get familiar with several crucial domains such as System Design, Development Operations or DevOps, etc.” Some of those tasks involves learning the embedded, complex technology, and then creating a well-communicated abstraction of the product to help lead teams towards efficient development. Per Kugler Maag Cie North America’s CEO, Peter Abowd, “The art of simple abstraction — which traditionally has only been taught by a few of the better universities or coaching experts – is one a few, crucial skills for efficient software architects, and cannot be learned and practiced in a few weeks.”
The Traditional, College Software Programs
And so the assumption is that the better money is spent on traditional, university programs where the experienced staff and defined coursework blaze a path toward enlightenment and stable earnings.
Maybe so. Maybe not.
According to US News and World Report, 2021’s top five universities for undergraduate degrees in Software Engineering are Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, UC-Berkeley, Georgia Tech and Illinois. The average out-of-state tuition for these fine institutions surpasses $45,400 per year, thereby ringing up a 4-year, total tab of nearly $250,000 after room, board, books, etc. Each university provides deep dives into topics like Cybersecurity Engineering, DevSecOps and Artificial Intelligence Engineering. Additionally, fascinating electives provide related learning topics such as entrepreneurship for computer science, telecommunication policy for the Internet Age, and ethical dilemmas in computing. This part is the “maybe so” argument.
However, these elongated degrees require many mandated, bloated, unrelated requirements, thereby driving-up the aforementioned cost. For instance, to graduate from Georgia Tech in Computer Science, a student must take a total of 124 credits which includes 51 credits of humanities (12), social sciences (12), sciences labs (12) and mathematics (15). Arguably, none of this will particularly assist the future developer with coding, and creates nearly $100,000 in unneeded cost. Ironically, that is exactly the starting salary of a Georgia Tech Computer Science major, which should make the reader imagine the graduate earning those six figures in their senior year rather than paying it to the university. Per an unscientific 2018 study, 89% of students (a.k.a., the customer) do not agree with the argument that mandated, unrelated coursework expands their horizons in necessary ways, hence the rise of alternatives.
And just in case you weren’t doing the math, it will require 26 years for the college graduate’s nest egg to surpass the bootcamper’s headstart. Meanwhile, student debt amasses at unprecedented rates (over $1.6 trillion).
Maybe the fictional, scholastic metaphor shouldn’t be The Ancient One’s teachings but rather a school that would work for Goldilocks.
One that’s not-too-soft and yet not-too-hard.