Do You Need To Know How To Code Before College or University?

If you are trying to figure out if you need to know how to code before college, you have come to the right place! I have some really valuable information for you that I wish I knew before starting my undergraduate degree in computer science.

For most colleges and universities, you do not need to know how to code before school. This is especially true if you have already applied and gotten into the school you applied for. It is very likely that one of your first courses will be an introductory programming course that will teach you everything you need to know.

However, it is always a good idea to double-check with your school to make sure this is actually the case.

You can also rest assured that there will definitely be at least a few other students in the same boat as you that have never even touched a coding language before. That being said, please, pleeeease do yourself a huge favor and start learning how to code right now! There are several reasons for you to start doing so.

In this article, I really want to convince you why being proactive and learning how to code is actually a great idea.

So without further ado, here are all the reasons you need to know how to code before college or university.

1. You Might Actually Hate Coding

In my personal opinion, coding is one of the greatest jobs in the world. I love the fact that I can go to work every day, not have to talk to anyone, and just build things. It’s a dream job for me.

However, for the vast majority of people, coding can be a nightmare. It can be incredibly challenging and requires a lot of mental energy. Coding all day for work is also very anti-social. There are many days I don’t talk to anyone, except for the odd slack message to a colleague to get insight into some code they wrote. Bug hunting can be completely draining, not to mention no one ever really appreciates the code you write.

When someone uses an Instagram feature, they aren’t thinking of the person who wrote the code behind the feature. They only think about how they’re using the feature. Like commenting on their friend’s posts.

In that way, you’re almost like a silent artist that never gets recognition.

*cue the sad music*

The good news is that if you like banging your head against your keyboard for hours, the job can pay pretty well. It is also extremely satisfying to solve a difficult problem and see your work come together into something functional and usable.

In the end, the only real way to find out if you’ll like coding is if you do it. So don’t waste your time and money at a college or university until you try it out yourself!

I have a bunch of also some great courses to check out.

2. College Is Hard Enough If You Can Code

I don’t mean to scare you, but college and university can be really tough. The workload is significantly harder than high school, you’re thrown into a new environment, you need to find a way to make friends and you’ll probably be a bit homesick.

Please take my advice and start learning to code now. You can make your first semester at college so much easier if you just learn the basics of programming before you get there.

The amount of time you are going to have to spend on your coursework is very likely to stress you out. If you are able to learn some content beforehand, it will help boost your average and spend more time on the courses that you really struggle with. I’m looking at you, calculus I.

3. You’ll Fall Behind And Might Not Catch Up

To go along with my last point, it is very easy to fall behind when trying to keep up with your programming classes. The teachers are going to move fast and if you can’t keep up, the assignments will just keep getting tougher until you aren’t capable of solving them.

This has happened to so many people I know and it’s a serious problem. After many students fall behind, they get discouraged and either cheat their way through the degree or drop out.

By the way, if you cheat your way through your degree, you’ll never be a competent programmer at work. Most of these students couldn’t even begin to plan their own coding projects!

4. Classes Graded On A Curve

Ultimately, you will be graded in your class based on the performance of your peers. If you are one of the people who don’t know how to code, you will be at a great disadvantage.

Many of the people in your class will already be very competent coders and will make the class harder. This will also likely take a toll on your self-esteem. No matter how hard you try, the people who are better than you can write the programs you find difficult with ease.

Trust me when I say that those kids are not smarter than you because they code better. They simply have had enough practice to really get the fundamentals of coding down.

5. Coding Should Be A Hobby

At the end of the day, the thing that is going to make you a great programmer is if you code as a hobby. If you don’t enjoy doing it in your free time, you won’t enjoy it at work.

Not only that, but it’s also the only way you are going to fall in love with coding. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, school is boring. They usually don’t teach you what makes coding fun, they teach you the fundamentals and what you need to know to be a good developer.

What makes coding really fun is taking an idea you have and making it a reality by learning an initially confusing language, framework, algorithm, and/or design patterns all by yourself.

Coding as a hobby allows you to really pinpoint what you want to do with coding and lead you into a specialization later on in life you will actually enjoy.


So that’s pretty much it, why you need to know how to code for college or university.

While it may not be required before you start school, it can really only benefit you to start learning how to code now. It will help you realize if coding is really your passion, make school a lot easier, make sure you don’t fall behind, and hopefully turn coding into a hobby.

If you’re new to programming and need a good place to learn the fundamentals, check out this course.

If you want to try your hand at web development, you can check out my free resources here.

Happy coding!

Grant Darling

Grant is a full-stack / frontend software developer passionate about writing & coding. He has many years experience working in the tech industry both as a freelancer and as an employee.

The Code Bytes is all about providing people with honest information about programming. To learn more about Grant, read his about page!

If you’re interested in freelance coding / writing services or want to partner with The Code Bytes, you can get in touch with me here!