Learning coding online – do you really need mentors?


4 min read

It’s not easy to choose between a self-directed and a mentor-led online programming course. We are here to help you make a well-balanced decision before you start.

online programming courses

Thinking about learning programming from the comfort of your home? It’s only natural to look for fully online programming courses in today’s world. 

You might be toying with the idea of learning through a self-directed learning path, with the help of some massively open online course (MOOC) platforms like Udemy or Coursera. They are popular and come with a huge menu of courses.

Another route you may be considering is live, mentor-led online programming courses.  But is it really for you?

First, we’ll check what you can expect when you’re learning to code on your own online.

Then, we’ll look at the top 3 arguments for and against mentor-led online programming courses to give you a balanced view.

Table of Contents

Self-directed online programming courses: how effective are they?

Chances are you already have a dusty Udemy or Coursera programming course at the bottom of your drawer, which you’ll never finish. And you’re not the only one. It’s more common than you’d think to invest in MOOCs and never get through them.

The Coursera course awarded with the “highest completion rate” pledge has a – wait for it – 20% completion rate. This data definitely paints a picture.

And this staggering number doesn’t seem that jaw-dropping when compared to a study done on the topic. It shows the average completion rate for Coursera, edX, and Udacity courses, which is approximately 15%. In other words, 85% are never finished.

Another challenge with self-directed learning is that it is rarely hands-on. Even if you fall in the 15%, and you finish it, the knowledge you’ll gather will focus a lot on theory and plain information instead of real life practice and project experience.

Self-directed online learning seems to be a great option. It allows a lot of freedom and is cost-effective. But what’s the use, if you don’t do it in the end? And it seems most people don’t – it’s just a fact to be accepted.

Mentor-led online programming courses: what's against them

Well, mentor-led courses on the other hand require real investment. The main cons that you could line up would be that they’re:

  • More expensive: There’s no way to get around it, learning on your own with MOOCs would cost you substantially less than any mentor-led online course.

    At the same time, the price reflects the service you get. In e-learning, you’d be receiving a lot of theory with very little if any practice or feedback. Also, in a way, a smaller investment is even more expensive if you spend it on nothing – and we have seen that you’d be very likely to never finish a self-instructed course. You do the math.


  • Less flexible: When you learn online on your own, you’re 100% free to decide on your schedule, breaks, and pacing. This can seem to be tempting to some, but you might be the person who works better when sticking to a schedule, curriculum, and team structure.

    Without these, you might as well feel lost at times, and you might end up losing time, motivation, or track of your own progress. So this con can actually be a pro for some.

  • Socially engaging: You might enjoy learning on your own and could be less enthusiastic about working with teammates and mentors. MOOCs are also a great option if you tend to feel lost in the crowd of a classroom. They give you the ability to pause and take thorough notes or even re-watch parts.

    Still, learning to code on your own could mean that you’re not getting the support and encouragement that could make or break your success. Having a support network means more than having someone to turn to for feedback. It’s there so you can move past obstacles and doubts. To give you a push where you might have given up if it were just you against the code.
online programming courses

Mentor-led, online programming courses: the advantages

Now that we’ve checked the cons, let’s see how mentor-led courses can add value contrary to self-directed learning.

1. You’ll get valuable feedback from pro developers

There’s nothing like having someone experienced in a subject guide you through a learning path. Having mentors will help you throughout your online programming journey by providing an opportunity for feedback sessions, deep assessments, and motivating discussions.

In fact, most of our students who’ve tried their hand at self-directed learning say the number one reason they changed to a mentor-led course is that they couldn’t find the answers to some burning, specific questions. All the knowledge in the online world cannot solve random problems that arise while you’re learning a new profession.

2. You’ll actually make time for learning

In a mentor-led setup where you have projects and a community, you’ll likely be able to dodge distractions better. You’ll hop into an online “classroom” where growth, experimentation, and exploration all happen. It’s where you’ll be surrounded by others interested in growing and exploring. It’s where you’ll work, get things done, and share the experience with others.

Sticking to a schedule and working with others will help you manage your time better, which is essential for any programmer.

3. You’ll have fun and find a great community

For online education to be on par with actually going to school, it can’t just focus on information. An online mentor-led programming course comes with a community and a great vibe, too. And a great atmosphere can mean success since having fun supports deep learning.

You’re actually going to learn more if you enjoy what you’re doing. A great vibe, teammates, and the opportunity to discuss whatever hardships come up can be essential for a successful learning experience.

Want to start your coding journey?

Check out our fully online immersive full-stack development course. It comes with a job guarantee, possible post-payment options, and an all-encompassing learning experience. You’ll learn several modern programming languages with the help of experienced mentors at the top of their game. They’ll be there to guide you as you learn the most important technologies and valuable soft skills, too.

Work on a kick-ass project portfolio, gather real coding experience and become a junior developer that companies will love to work with.

All this and more on campus, or completely online, from the comfort of your home! Ready for the ride and the application? Hit apply.

Got questions? Reach out! Can’t wait to talk to you soon.

Related Posts

What is object-oriented programming?
You’ll encounter object-oriented programming while learning...
Top 25 IT jobs of the future and how to start your career
The tech industry is booming and...
Why feedback is a gift – Learn to give and receive it to become a top developer
Get comfortable with giving and receiving...