With tech professionals in high demand, multiple ways to break into the industry have opened up. The need is great enough that even a degree is no longer a requirement, simply having strong software development skills can be enough to start a career in the field. One of the methods available for learning these new coding skills is self-learning through free online coding resources.
Can I Really Learn to Code Online, for Free?
Self-learning is often touted as a third option for those with determination but lacking the time or money for a college degree or coding bootcamp. There are multiple resources for learning to code for free online, from coding challenges to youtube channels.
While many of these free resources and open-source online learning platforms may be useful, with most it can be difficult to do more than learn the basics of computer programming. In addition, there are few if any that cover the skills required to become a software developer outside of just programming.
In response to this, App Academy has created App Academy Open, an option to enjoy the school’s course content free of charge. In this article, we will take a look at how App Academy Open works, who it’s for, and how it can benefit you.
What is App Academy Open?
App Academy Open is App Academy’s entire full-stack in-person software engineering curriculum available entirely free of charge. Open’s free course material is identical to the paid in-person course, only excluding a few features like instructor reviewed assessments, live Q&A and lectures, live assistance, structured pacing, and job search support.
This free coding resource is entirely self-paced and takes approximately 12-16 months to complete. The course includes readings, practice projects, video lectures, an interactive coding environment, and access to a community chat.
Beyond just teaching these technologies and programming languages, the course covers many important soft skills that full-stack developers need off the computer, including how to make a portfolio, job search strategies, and resume workshops. This makes Open a unique course, when many online resources focus primarily on technology, without providing any real job search help.
Unlike many other free coding schools, App Academy Open is battle-tested: it’s been used and revised by top tech companies and experts in the field for over seven years to teach full-time paid courses. Thousands of graduates of these courses have found successful careers in software development. This curriculum is designed to do more than just teach the basics; it helps students find jobs.
What If I Need More Help?
Simply put, not everyone can succeed with pure self-study in a free course. While learning on your own for over a year takes strong motivation, an even deeper issue is that many students need in-person advice and mentoring. While a solid curriculum alone is powerful, sometimes if you’re stuck on a difficult concept or project there is no avenue to ask specific questions.
App Academy provides a simple, inexpensive, and elegant solution: a mentorship plan. Rather than being forced to upgrade to a full-time course—an option that not everyone can afford—the school provides mentoring from their team of instructors via slack. These instructors are available Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 6 PM to answer questions and provide guidance on the course.
This plan is competitively priced at $30/month. Students that take this option are estimated to complete the course a full 4-6 months earlier than those without. Students can upgrade from the free plan to the mentorship plan whenever they like in the course, meaning that every student can start for free, and upgrade later if they find they need this help.
Students can also upgrade to the full-time online course, which provides daily video demos, live Q&A instruction, live lectures from App Academy instructors, white-boarding, and career services. The full-time course is also completed much quicker with a structured pace, getting students ready to find and start a job in just 24 weeks. Finally, the full-time course costs nothing upfront, and students only have to pay after they’re hired as a developer.
What Do Alumni Have to Say about Open?
App Academy has a five-star rating on Career Karma, backed by nearly 200 reviews. While these reviews are for the entire school, there are many students that have found success starting with App Academy Open.
Arthur Borges is one such student. Borges lives in Brazil and started with a background in electrical engineering, but found himself bored in this field. and was drawn to software development.
“I studied a little bit of FreeCodeCamp before, in 2015, but did not finish because of a lack of motivation. App Academy Open caught my interest because of the active community and excellent video material. Also because of the stack. I really wanted to learn Ruby again!” Said Borges.
Matt Ramos another App Academy Open student, found himself in a similar situation.
“I’ve always been into computers and making websites from a young age … but I never really took it anywhere after that. When I started looking for a job—which was in 2009—I wanted to find an entry-level web dev position or paid internship. But the job market back then wasn’t great.” Said Ramos in an interview.
Giving up on trying to find a job in web development, Ramos found a job as an SEO analyst. He turned that job into a career in product management, which he spent 4-5 years as. However, Ramos found that he still wanted to get back into web development.
“If I don’t actually try to do this now, I’m never going to try to do it. So, I said I’m going to take it seriously, and I’m going to figure out how I can make this happen.
“I immediately started looking into what are all of my options, how can I do this? I was looking at full-time bootcamps and part-time bootcamps, some that were in-person vs online. I looked into potentially going to college or taking online classes.”
After completing a 10-day bootcamp prep course in New York and considering a number of bootcamps, Ramos settled on App Academy Open so that he could keep his existing job while studying.
“I would have loved to drop everything and go spend 80 hours a week at an in-person bootcamp. But for me, that didn’t work.
“App Academy has every single part of the curriculum—every section—broken out by how many hours you’re meant to spend on it, and I had a goal to finish the curriculum by the end of last year.”
Ramos completed App Academy Open utilizing the Mentor plan, while Borges used just the free program. We’re left with the question: did the course work for these students?
Can I Find a Job with App Academy Open?
Many students have found success using App Academy Open’s curriculum. For some, it’s a chance to access proven educational material without the risk that comes with a bigger price tag. It also allows students to work around their existing schedule to learn a new skill set at their own pace.
Arthur Borges found that it worked.
“After two months of intense and dedicated study, I found a new job, earning 33% more than the previous one.”
Matt Ramos is now on day 60 of his job as a software developer.
“I really enjoy my work. I feel like the last two months at work have been the most fun I’ve had. … I’m having fun, I’m learning, it’s kind of all coming together.”
These cases are not unique. However, it should be noted that starting a career in a new field using primarily self-learning isn’t easy, and not everyone will find success in learning outside of the classroom.
Is Learning Online Right for Me?
Learning to become a software developer on your own is a significant task. Where a full-time bootcamp will push students to continue their education, self-learning requires self-motivation. It requires setting a goal and sticking to it, with only yourself to make sure you get to your goal on time.
However, because App Academy Open is offered free of charge, there’s no risk to trying it. It gives students a chance to see what online self-learning, coding bootcamp material, and even work as a software developer is like before committing to a path.
In this sense, App Academy Open is for everyone that’s thinking about becoming a software developer. Even if self-learning isn’t a good fit for your learning style, it’s easy to move on to the full-time online bootcamp after spending some time with Open.
Ryan Young is a good example of this path. Young started with App Academy Open but has since been accepted to the full-time course.
“I would definitely recommend App Academy Open. For me, it reinforced my decision to get into the full-time online course. My advice to anyone looking to start learning to code would probably be to just go do it right now. There are countless sources online, so you can really get a nice feel for the basics. And if you can learn it all on your own, that’s great, but having an online resource you can get help from is absolutely invaluable.” Young says.
Arthur Borges and Matt Ramos also had good things to say about his experience in the course.
“App Academy Open is a great alternative to study and has excellent lessons and video materials! It’s a great place to practice programming, as the exercises are very tough! The community on Slack is very active, too! I’ve already recommended AppAcademy Open to a lot of people, during my experience with it!” Shared Borges.
“I’m really loving it—I think I definitely made the right choice. I had this nagging feeling for over ten years in the back of my head and I finally got to scratch that itch.” Said Ramos.
App Academy Open is a chance to use App Academy’s battle-tested coding course, free of charge. It’s also a chance to gain access to the school’s experienced instructors at an inexpensive monthly charge. Whether you’re considering coding bootcamps, self-learning, or just software development in general, this program is a solid choice.
If you’re looking to follow the same path as Borges, Ramos, or Young, starting the course is easy, and it can be done here.