Is a Udacity Nanodegree Worth It?

TL;DR: Yes, I would say a Frontend Nanodegree from Udacity is worth it, IF you’re the type of person who needs a bit more structure to their learning process, but also wants the flexibility of being able to learn on their own time (i.e not in a classroom/bootcamp setting). Just be sure to take advantage of the resources that Udacity offers, such as career services, Slack chats, etc., and also be mentally prepared to do some supplemental research on your own, if a topic is not presented in a way that you can easily grasp.  (It’s never a bad idea to learn from multiple sources, as a rule!)

The Background: At the beginning of this year, I happened to notice a link below the search box on the Google homepage. I am usually in too much of a hurry to pay much attention to that, but it said something about a scholarship for a web development course, so I was intrigued. I clicked on it, answered a few questions about why I wanted to apply for the scholarship, hit send and didn’t think much more about it.

A few weeks later, I received an email saying I was accepted into the Grow with Google, Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree Challenge Course on Udacity. In a nutshell, this challenge course was a selection of the introductory portions of the main course, and if you performed well on that (“well” meaning in the top 15% of all 25,000 students, I think), you could then receive a scholarship for the full Nanodegree course.

I saw this as a huge opportunity to get some structured learning that would enhance what I already knew and increase the depth and breadth of my knowledge. I focused on nailing the Challenge portion and then got the invitation to complete the full course.

From April to the beginning of October, I worked through lessons, labs, and projects covering everything from HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript (ES6) to web accessibility, building testing suites, working with APIs, offline ServiceWorkers, React JS and more.

I became part of a Facebook group with fellow students, all coming from different backgrounds and working at different paces. What struck me about this group with that everyone was extremely supportive and not at all competitive. People shared resources, bits of code, and encouragement.

Pros: I like that it was a structured curriculum, but that I could do it on my own time. I thought there were ample resources offered in support of the learning experience. Most of the course material was interesting and engaging.

Cons:  Some of the material was outdated, but hopefully that’s been remedied by now!

I’m not 100% sure what kind of weight a Nanodegree holds compared to a an actual degree or certificate, but I would say it was surely a continuing professional education type of thing. I definitely put in enough hours for it to be meaningful! I learned a ton and came away with some specific areas I want to dive deeper on. I really enjoyed React JS and want to start building more projects in that framework.


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