If you are currently learning how to code, I would highly recommend you look into freeCodeCamp if you haven’t already done so.
For those of you who are starting out, I thought I would share my experience so far. It may be useful to you in improving your learning experience with freeCodeCamp.
1. Slow down!
For those of you like me, who see the words ‘challenge’ on a screen and immediately try to get through it as quickly as possible.
Sure, it feels great to get through the challenges as fast as possible.
Sure, in the moment you feel like a true genius.
But the reality is far from that.
I was quite impressed with myself when I finished each of the sections in half of the time they guesstimate it would take an average person. I had some previous experience with HTML and CSS. So I thought that was why I was understanding these concepts and getting through the challenges so quickly.
Although I felt like a genius at the time, I soon got to the basic front end development projects. I realized that everything I learned up until now had not been retained knowledge.
Sure, I was able to complete the sections in half (if not less) of the time they estimated it would take me, but I had learned nothing. The concepts were all familiar, but nothing was truly retained in my head.
My biggest piece of advice to avoid my mistake here would be to slow your roll. Once you complete a challenge, don’t move to the next right away. Take an extra five to ten minutes to try to understand what they’re teaching you, and why.
If you had your all-time favorite meal in front of you right now, would you inhale that food without even a chew? Or would you do the sensible thing and savor and enjoy the experience?
You don’t want to upset your stomach by eating too quickly. With that being said, why would you want to upset your brain by trying to learn too quickly?
2. Don’t rely solely on freeCodeCamp to learn how to code
What I mean by this is that freeCodeCamp does a wonderful job at teaching you the fundamentals. But there are plenty of useful things that it doesn’t touch on. For example, when it comes to CSS, freeCodeCamp doesn’t go into too much detail.
Instead of focusing solely on the content from freeCodeCamp, I would supplement it with other resources. I like MDN web docs or CSS-Tricks, for example, when diving deeper into CSS.
As well, freeCodeCamp is geared towards you learning how to develop by using the Bootstrap framework. Although I agree with this, I would still say it’s a good idea to learn the ins and outs of HTML and CSS before you learn the Bootstrap framework.
So along with taking notes throughout the challenges, I would also make it a habit to learn from other resources. You want to become an expert at literally everything when learning how to code, not to know just the bare minimum to get a basic website up.
3. Embrace the Read-Search-Ask method
This touches on my second point, but I want to reinforce this one.
Learning web development is definitely not an easy task, and definitely not one you should take on by yourself.
You’re going to have to always keep learning, and always keep asking questions. You may get some backlash from people on Reddit or Stack Overflow. But there are no stupid questions when it comes to learning how to code.
freeCodeCamp has one of the best online communities out there. You have to take advantage of this, and get social! Sign up for the freeCodeCamp meetups in your local city. Although most of us like to learn on our own, there will definitely come a time where you will have to collaborate with a team. So why not start now while you’re still learning!
Bringing it all together…
I truly think freeCodeCamp is one of the best ways to learn how to code. The structure of the course revolving around a project-based learning experience. Their fantastic online community. There isn’t anything like it.
Although this is a great way to learn, there are definitely ways to help improve your learning experience.
Remember the following:
- Slow down and enjoy the experience. Make sure you understand the concept you’re learning before moving onto the next challenge.
- Be as resourceful as you can. The more sources of the information you can find, the easier your learning will be. With that being said, make sure to find credible sources, and make sure you’re learning current concepts, as a lot of things do change over time.
- Embrace the Read-Search-Ask method and take part in one of the best online communities for learning to code, ever.