Discouraging? Nah. The optimist in me is excited by the prospect of never-ending learning. I _love_ learning, and my favorite hobbies have been the ones that seemed near-impossible to master. More importantly, you _don’t need_ to learn everything. Mastering the fundamental concepts is the important bit, because then you can quickly and effectively develop the skills to work within whatever language or framework you need to. ## Realization #4: Formal Education Isn’t For Me. When confronted with a pool of knowledge that’s as wide as it is deep, most non-cynics will consider formal education as a way to try and stuff all of that information into their brains. Two years ago I did some investigating into my education options, and came away thoroughly unsatisfied with my choices. ### University. For 3 weeks I secretly audited Computer Science at McMaster University. There was something exciting about slinking around campus like a spy, sitting among peers who had no idea I had no right to be there, stealing education and trying not to leave too significant a paper trail of fake names and bogus student ID’s. I sat in on first and second-year courses, and I learned a fair bit about algorithms, logic gates and system architecture, but absolutely no programming. This isn’t uncommon: it’s called Computer _Science_ for a reason. This isn’t a diss on university, it’s just not what I wanted. I like getting my hands dirty, throwing myself into mountainous blocks of code and problem-solving. CS is all theory, learning _about_ languages but not how to use them. Interesting stuff, but not for me. ### College. There exists a few trade schools and colleges that offer a more hands-on approach. I got accepted into Mohawk and Seneca, and was seriously considering attending Seneca’s 4-year [Software Development degree program](http://www.senecac.on.ca/fulltime/BSD.html). At least, I was seriously considering it until I looked at [the curriculum](http://www.senecac.on.ca/fulltime/BSD.html#layer13). The first problem I saw was all the fluff. Courses like “_Canadian Business Environment”, “Law, Ethics and Social Responsibility”, _and the Liberal Studies Electives peppered throughout. There’s a bigger problem, though. I looked at this curriculum _two years ago _and as far as I can tell, it hasn’t changed at all. Who knows how many years before that it was established? The course curriculum reads like it was written in 1998. The way we interact with technology is changing extremely rapidly. Wearable technology like [Google Glass](https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fglass%2Fstart%2F&ei=mAw8U4i3Lee-2gX26YHoCw&usg=AFQjCNE_1rxbVEu695SrYg52nMIjyaitUw&sig2=b9zVuwN2ZAkAX3Yh5qOO3A&bvm=bv.63934634,d.b2I) and Toronto’s own [Kiwi Wearables](http://kiwiwearables.com/) are becoming more mainstream, people are moving from the desktop to tablets and phones and watches, all of our appliances are becoming ‘smart’. Stuff changes blindingly fast, and schools should be updating their curriculums as much as they can to compensate. In the end, I became disillusioned with my education options, and went back to experimenting and learning on my own. ### Bootcamps **Fast forward almost two years. **I was sitting on Steam chatting idly to a friend when he mentioned he knew someone who went through this rigorous development bootcamp called [Bitmaker Labs](http://www.bitmakerlabs.com/). I googled it, and had a “holy shit” moment. I started dusting off that closeted ambition of becoming a developer, seeing that this was a real opportunity to learn something I love and I could actually find work doing this kind of thing. I went to an open house, loved it, and applied. It’s a totally different methodology from ‘formal education’ institutions like universities and colleges. Short, intensive, and _focused_, with an ever-evolving curriculum that’s modeled after the real world. You won’t learn everything in 9 weeks, but you’ll learn the important fundamentals and you’ll leave with the ability to specialize in whatever areas interest you most. We’re a week and a half in now, and it’s incredible. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more suitable opportunity for learning to develop web applications, and I’m having a blast. There’s a lot I could say about this experience so far, but I’ll save that for another time!
### The Plan. I started [this blog](https://medium.com/@joshuawcomeau) for a few reasons. One was to chronicle my experiences at Bitmaker Labs as a way of preserving memories. I also really like the idea of sharing neat coding tricks and tidbits as I learn them. If this kinda stuff interests you, stay tuned =) _By Joshua Comeau ([@JoshuaWComeau](https://twitter.com/JoshuaWComeau))_