Programming has been one of the most lucrative and promising career paths for the last couple of decades, and it does not seem to be losing momentum. On the contrary – the demand for skilled programmers is higher than ever, and working in this industry is growing more promising with every passing year. It is not surprising, then, that many students find the prospect of doing coding for a living a very alluring idea. However, before you sign up for an online course or choose to program as your major, you should get a few things straight so that you do not regret your decision later on.
Do not believe those who claim otherwise. Learning programming to any meaningful level is anything but easy. You may take a couple of online courses aimed at beginners, breeze through them, decide that coding is the right thing for you and take a major in programming – only to realize that you can’t make head or tail of anything taught by your professors. You should understand that online beginner courses that are so prevalent today are designed to make things appear to be easy and thus encourage their students. In a sense, they have a negative long-term effect, because people acquire a false sense of competence that shatters to pieces the moment they start to work on projects that are just a little bit more complex.
So check your expectations. Do not expect to grasp everything right away. Do not expect to make rapid progress. Do not expect to get through every assignment effortlessly.
Learning programming by yourself is tough and probably even impossible. If someone says that he/she taught him/herself coding from scratch, this person most likely stretches the truth a bit. Even those who learn programming outside of college courses and with nothing else but online programs still usually have to rely on the help of other people to get some things right. And most students who study coding in college also resort to programming homework help at least from time to time. There are just too many things to keep in your head while you have to deal with a variety of other disciplines.
In other words, if you find yourself in need of some help, do not hesitate to ask for it. You will be neither the first nor the last one to do so.
While practice is an important aspect of any kind of learning, it is truly crucial in the case of programming. You see, coding is different from most other disciplines. Memorization does not play a nearly as important role in it as in most other areas of knowledge. Studying programming is not like revising for a test. It does not matter whether you remember exactly how to do an if/else statement in the programming language you use. As long as you remember that it can be done, you can always look it up. The only way to get better at coding is to code – and you should never let the lack of memorized knowledge stop you from doing it.
This aspect of programming is particularly important for those who have been straight-A students in high school and are used to getting things right the first time around. When it comes to programming, this approach no longer works. You will get things wrong, and you should not let it frustrate you. It is a completely normal part of the process. It is even crucial for your overall success – if you do not make mistakes, it probably means that you do not truly process what you study.
Even within the confines of a single programming language, you are highly unlikely to truly understand everything you are dealing with. When you start out studying programming, you are probably full of energy and are ready to dig to the bottom of every issue you come across. There is no need to even try. Information technology is an incredibly vast and complex realm where things change so fast and so dramatically that what is true today can have nothing to do with reality tomorrow and vice versa. You are never going to know everything – and it is normal.
According to popular belief, in order to achieve any significant success in programming, you have to possess a solid knowledge of mathematics and, preferably, have a natural aptitude for it. This is not true – not by a long shot. Of course, being a math person can be a significant advantage. It will make learning high-level programming languages much easier. However, it is not a prerequisite. In certain areas of programming, you do not need any particular knowledge of mathematics to excel. In others, lacking this foundational knowledge can make things tougher, but with enough patience and effort, you can overcome any obstacles.
In many ways, programming is not like any other academic discipline. You should not approach it with the usual set of preconceptions held by most students. You have to understand how it is different from the other subjects you study and what you should expect before you commit to it.