8 Misconceptions about LEARNING TO CODE


There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to learning code. Some of these can even prevent a person from deciding to learning code in the first place. So I feel it’s worth taking the time to dispel some of these common misconceptions.

1/ You need to…be a MATH GENIUS

Many people have this image that ALL programmers are math wizards with an IQ to match Einstein. Well, I am sorry to ruin the illusion, but…THAT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE. Sorry guys.

Sure, there are defiantly some really smart cookies out there, but it’s not a prerequisite to be a programmer. You don’t have to be a genius simply to be a programmer.

When it comes to maths specifically, the level of required knowledge and proficiency varies depending on what you are doing.

Some area’s of programming surprisingly doesn’t involve a whole load of maths.

For example, if you’re taking data and storing it somewhere i.e. a database. Or possibly you’re working with some of the graphical user interface elements of an app. In which case, you may be using built-in or external libraries (pre-written code by someone else).

In these kinds of situations, maths doesn’t play such a big role. However, across all walks of programming, the ability to think LOGICALLY is necessary. But you don’t have to be a genius to do that.

Obviously, there are some area’s that are more math heavy.

If you are looking to get into Artificial Intelligence, then it’s probably worth picking up some textbooks.

Or suppose you’re interested in developing games, then you will probably be using math to calculate the physic of the game.

But even then, the Unity game platform has built-in physics engines provide components that handle the physical simulation for you.

So, yeah, don’t worry so much about not being a “genius”. You can still be a programmer.

2/ You need to…have a LOT OF TIME

WRONG. You just need CONSISTENCY. 

You may think the only way to learn programming is by studying 24/7. But you don’t.

Sure it would be ideal. However, luckily for those who can’t afford to give up their day job, we can still learn with the time we have.

All you need is a couple of hours an evening…and some DEDICATION. If you can have the willpower to sit down at your computer every night and code, I can guarantee it will eventually sink in.

As long as you’re actually studying that is! If you’re just watching Epic Fail videos on YouTube, it’s not going to work obviously.

You need to be actively learning, actively coding, and of course, referencing good resources!

Speaking of resources, if you need help finding a quality course, check out this blog post: LEARN CODE from these 12 BRILLIANT Udemy Instructors.

3/ You need to…go to UNIVERSITY

If you want a career as a software developer you need a degree, right?….NOPE!

You may be surprised to hear that most software developers are actually self-taught. In fact, according to a 2016 survey on Stack Overflow, roughly two-thirds are self-taught, with fewer than half having formal degrees in computer science.

For some industries, a degree is a MUST, which is understandable in some cases. Would you want a self-taught doctor to perform major heart surgery on you? Didn’t think so.

But for all those, unable to go to university, with dreams of becoming a developer, well, you will be happy to know that your dreams can still come true!

Evidently, from the stats, you can still forge a career, regardless of whether you’re self-taught or not. You just have to be driven, learn what you need, and demonstrate what you know. A portfolio is a good way to do this.

There will still be companies that slap “degree required” on their job ads. But it’s not a requirement of ALL developer roles. And to be honest, there’s still nothing stopping you from apply, despite not having a degree. You never know what can happen.

4/ You need to…spend LOADS OF MONEY

Have you seen the price of university? How’s a guy supporting his family meant to afford that? Oh yeah, misconception no.3…you don’t have to go university.

Okay, well…still, those coding bootcamps are expensive! What are they? like a few thousand? My pockets aren’t that deep.

Don’t worry, in this modern age, you can learn just about anything thanks to the power of the internet. And best of all, much of it is FREE. I even took the time to compile a list of free resources to help you learn code. You’re welcome.

And I know what your thinking, the quality’s probably crap if it’s free. But they’re not. In fact, they are pretty damn good, especially Free Code Camp.

But if that doesn’t persuade you, then you can always check out websites like Devslopes, Team Tree House, Code School, Plurasight, or Udemy, which are all pretty reasonably priced.

You can pick up a course on Udemy for the “price of lunch” as they so often say. And it’s full of brilliant instructors as I have previously mentioned.

5/ You need to…get a POWERFUL COMPUTER

When you look at professional programmers they all seem to be rocking Macbooks, Ultrabooks and fancy PC setups. So naturally, you may think a decent computer is vital.

But really…IT’S NOT.

To learn code all you need is a computer, any computer. You don’t need a high spec one with all the bells and whistles just to learn.

Just think, if you are learning to drive are really you going to buy a Porsche? Or stick to a little runaround car?

When I started out I was learning on an old, pretty basic laptop. It was fine for everyday use but quite slow when it came to crunching code. However, that didn’t matter, as long as it worked, and it did the job. That was all I needed.

You don’t need much more than that just to get you started.

6/ You need to…know how COMPUTERS WORKS

Don’t worry if you have no clue how that magical box, turns 1’s and 0’s into the beautiful user interfaces we’re used to. You’re not alone.

Most programmers don’t actually need to know the fine details of how a computer works under the hood.

Of course, there are exceptions, and it can be an asset to have that inner knowledge.

However…it’s not something you NEED to know in order to learn code.

When you’re learning code you just need to focus on what the code is doing. You don’t need to concern yourself with how the computer is interpreting that code and crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

You can put that to one side.

Although, if it is something that you are interested in, then Crash Course’s YouTube Channel has a great Computer Science series which explain the inner workings of a computer.

7/ You need to…be YOUNG

You may think coding is only for techie wiz kids but you don’t have to be a spring chicken to start learning.

I myself started learning at 27, and while I thought I was unusual, it turns out I’m actually pretty average. According to a survey of 20,000 people done by FreeCodeCamp, the average age of learners is 28. Surprising I know!

Even that is young compared to other stories of people learning to code in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Age is just a number at the end of the day, and you shouldn’t let that stop you. If you have a passion for something, pursue it! No matter what your age.

8/ You need to…be A GUY

Tech is often seen as a “guy thing”, and is quite a male-dominated field when you look at the stats. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, 26% of the computing workforce was female in 2016.

And in 2015, approximately 18% of computer science and information sciences bachelor’s degree recipients were women.

But code isn’t just for guys! It’s for ALL!

In fact, if you look back at the history books, some of the pioneering programmers were women. Just to throw some names out there, you have:

  • Ada Lovelace – Credited as the worlds first programmer.
  • Grace Hopper – Developer of the first compiler, creator of the COBOL programming language, AND (here’s a FUN FACT), she also coined the term “computer bug”, after finding a moth in her computer.
  • Adele Goldstine – Creator of the world’s first electronic digital computer.

There are plenty more examples, but these ones hopefully show you that it’s not a “guy thing”. And actually, women have already played a key role in Computer Science history.

Remember, there is NO STEREOTYPICAL PROGRAMMER. Programmers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds and of course…genders!

Feature image designed by Freepik

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About the Author Owen

Creator of Code Dad, father and self-taught programmer. My mission is to balance life, work, family, all while learning to code, and hopefully help others who want to do the same.

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