Fair warnings to starters

Fair warnings to starters


The first thing newcomers starting FCC should be told about is how to examine and consider their aptitude for coding.

Until I got to the API challenges it seemed that the main part of the aptitude I needed for coding was understanding Javascript, CSS,HTML, as it would seem on the face of it. So from the start my hopes of making it had been gathering pace with each task I completed.

Sadly, when I got to the challenges that include the show local weather, it was sprung on me that when it comes to learning by googling, I need the aptitude like that of someone who would be good at envisaging a dinosaur and it’s life by finding what looks to me like any old shapeless bones.

Although you would say ‘people get stuck on things but they get there with patience.’ The patience of a saint isn’t part of everybody’s aptitude, especially in the real working world where your’e under pressure to get it done.
This getting wound up and frustrated by it would make a lot of people become tired very quickly before they’ve accomplished much.

Hence I think it was a bit rude of FCC to let me waste a year of my life coming all this way only to find I am not apt for coding after all.

When is it time to give up?

Anyone can learn to code and develop the skills to solve complex challenges like some of the FCC projects. For some it takes much more practice and study than others. I do not know how many hours per day you spent during this year you mention, but the # hours specified for each section is fairly accurate. I looked at your forum history and it appears you got to the Weather project and have now concluded it was beyond you.

What code did you try for the weather project? Did you understand the requirements for the challenge? If not, then always know you can ask us to clarify the requirements. Also, there are hundreds of campers on here who
would be more than happy to review any coding attempt for this challenge. There is no shame in asking about something you are confused about with JavaScript or a coding concept like AJAX.

Please reconsider stopping now. You have learned much more than you probably realize. We want you to succeed!


An underlying premise of FCC is that you don’t need a special aptitude or innate ability to learn how to program. Anyone can learn to code. How far you get and how successful you are isn’t a matter of aptitude, but of interest. You have to enjoy solving certain types of problems. You have to want the challenge of going off into uncharted waters. What stops people from progressing on their journey isn’t that they don’t have the tools to continue further; it’s that they no longer consider it to be worth the amount of work that it requires.

In terms of “warning” people, I think that you’ll find the community here to be very honest about the fact that learning to code is hard. One of @QuincyLarson’s most linked articles on the forum and in the chat is One Does Not Simply Learn To Code.

I’m sorry that you’re feeling frustrated. I know with absolute conviction that you have the ability to succeed at this. The question is, do you have the drive?

When is it time to give up?

Hi Oakeseysrock,

I don’t speak for FCC and I’m new myself.

It’s unfortunate that you feel like you wasted a year of your life. However I"m not sure how anyone or any site could gauge your aptitude for programming or any skill to be honest. I grew up sucking at sports and didn’t think I’d be good at any of it. Running sucked, basketball sucked, volleyball sucked, baseball sucked. It wasn’t until a decade later that I tried martial arts that I found something I might be good at. Even still I had to work hard to get decent at it. After many years I won a couple world medals.

You made it all the way to the weather apps, that’s worth something.

I don’t have much coding advice but if you’ve exhausted google searches and reading documentation then I don’t think anyone would fault you for asking for help.


Campers are encouraged to and expected to ask for help. None of us code in a vacuum. I have coworkers who have been doing this for longer than I’ve been alive and they ask for help as a regular part of how they work. Even if any of us could know it all for a moment, in the blink of an eye there would be something other developers know more about than we do.


Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that FCC didn’t encourage questions, quite the opposite actually. But other forums and places can be a little more “mean” about people asking questions and that stays with people.


Thank you for sharing this article! I’m brand new to coding myself and think the conversation as a whole is worthwhile, but this article nailed some stuff I think I needed to put into my brain.


Some day I’d be happy to treat you to my rant on how cultural attitudes toward STEM subjects completely undermine education, starting at the grade school level, as well as my theory on how early introduction to programming principles could make a huge difference to students’ success in algebra, physical sciences, and advanced mathematics.


Oh god, treat me, treat me! I’m drooling at the thought. My daughter is 3 right now, she’s very smart, talkative, imaginative, and I’m very invested in shaping her own attitudes toward learning, school, careers, and how she makes choices - starting now. I try to make sure I give her ample opportunities to practice and broaden her skills beyond what the “girly” toys she gravitates towards afford her, constantly verbalize that she can try and choose any activities, and that it’s 100% okay to fail at those attempts. And because either something innate within her or cultural attitudes themselves drives her to often choose non-stem play things, I really try to find ways to integrate them in to her play-learning.


Software developers don’t get paid the big bucks for nothing. It’s not easy. If you wanted to do it, you could. If you don’t want to do it, you’ll find an excuse. Simple.

Me personally, when I got to those projects, I started feeling like I’ve almost wasted my time too. I was questioning what the hell have I actually learned after so much learning on codecademy and a bit on freecodecamp. I was so lost in the project that I had no idea where to start, and I stopped coding for a couple weeks due to the incredible overwhelm. Countless searches on google and nothing I found I understood. I got my head together, pushed myself past the incredibly uncomfortable feeling and started cracking it and once I finally learned how to work with API’s, the project started rolling. Finished one, then the other and before I knew it, I finished all 4 of them. That was actually last week, when I finished the twitch project. To be honest, after I finished the first one, I found all the others quite simple. Not super easy, just simple.


Sort of. But I think it goes way deeper and more based on the individual than that. Are there folks who pick up and understand certain languages quicker? Totally. But that doesn’t mean anyone who’s average or slower at it should consider not doing it at all just because of that fact. Like @RandellDawson said, anyone can learn how to code. Some will do it quicker than others, it’s really all about finding what works for you.

Yes…if you’re focusing on front end development. I think the issue you’re facing now is that switch over from front end to back end. The thing to keep in mind is while there is a little bleed over of languages, like JavaScript and Node for example, you’re facing two different beasts that you have to battle in two different ways. The skill set you need for front end development is different then the one you’d need for back end development.

But you are apt for it because you HAVE come all this way. Again, it comes down to doing what works for you and what you enjoy doing. Maybe that’s front end, maybe that’s back. Maybe you’re fullstack. If you’re having trouble with any of them and you really have a desire to master it then fight for it! Put in the work, put in the hours, ask questions, seek help. You’re a forum post away here from getting assistance but you have to pull your own weight. If you’re having an issue with a bit of code come here and post it, the forum members are always here to advise.

There’s absolutely no reason you have to go about it alone.

And it’s totally fine to get frustrated and discouraged. We all do. Coding is damn hard sometimes, especially when you’re trying to learn/use something new. Hell, sometimes I get frustrated with stuff I’ve been working with for years, it happens. My usual advice is to step away from whatever you’re working on for a bit. Go for a walk, do anything else, or sleep on it and come back when you’ve got fresh eyes.


Good read.
9 Personality Traits of an Effective Developer

Unwavering self confidence
Unwavering self doubt
Crushing humility
Overly helpful
Strongly empathetic
A healthy level of paranoia
Highly inquisitive <---- take note!
Perseverance <----- take note!
Light heartedness
Good memory for previous errors


Don’t go around blaming FCC for wasting your time. Unlike many other programs, FCC is completely free, has good learning resources, and a large online community that is willing to help you out. However, progressing through it is entirely left up to you. If it took you a year to figure out that this isn’t for you, that’s your fault.

On the bright side, you didn’t spend thousands of dollars at a bootcamp or a college degree to come to the same conclusion. If you decide that coding isn’t for you, thank FCC for the opportunity to try this out for free and then move on to greener pastures.


I caught the dry humor in this topic. Nicely done.


Look, I’m not a talented programmer, but sometimes I’m able to outperform guys that know more than I do – because I have persistence. A reasonable amount of intellect and an above average amount of grit is all that’s required. Fake it til you make it and don’t take “no” for an answer.


Real world programming involves a complex set of skills. I doubt anyone (or at least very few) are born with them all in excess. Math skills, algorithmic thinking, design, error detection, longterm planning, documentation, logical thinking, multitasking, researching, test devising, remembering various libraries, etc. No one has them all in spades. But with hard work, most can learn them sufficiently.

And not everyone that comes to FCC is looking for a job. Some just want to learn something new. Some just want to try it out. Some want to learn enough to make their own simple site.

I know the feeling of “I just need to learn HTML, CSS, and JS and then I’ll be … wait, what the crap is all this other stuff?!?” I liken it to climbing a mountain and you think you see the peak, but when you get there you see that it was a false peak and the next is farther ahead. But when you get there…

Is that FCC’s fault? Or is it our fault for assuming this would be a quick and easy fix? Many people look at web dev and think “I’ll just study this for a year part-time and then I’ll land a six-figure job.” But was that a reasonable expectation? Is there any other field where that would be a possible? Not even close. It also defies basic economics. The fact that web dev jobs pay so well is evidence that it is difficult to learn.

Some people have deluded themselves into thinking that it is a quick fix. (And I might have been guilty of a bit of that myself.) Is it FCC’s job to lead a crusade to disabuse people of their delusions about what web dev is and what it takes to become one? I don’t think so. There are a lot of people with that unreasonable expectation. A simple search of several forums that will find many questions along the line of “What’s the bare minimum I need to learn to get one of those great web dev jobs?” or “How long until I get a $100k job?”

It’s a collective delusion. It is a symptom of our “easy solution” and “get rich quick” culture. As a music teacher I see it all the time there too, “How much do I have to practice to get good?” I get a lot of students that stop lessons after a few months when they realize that it’s going to take years of practice.

None of that is FCC’s fault. None of it was created by FCC. None of it is the responsibility of FCC to combat. Unlike a lot of bootcamp’s that exploit this for great financial gain, FCC offers it’s tutelage for free.

I’m not trying to come down on the OP. It’s a fair question. This is hard. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take longer than we thought. We’re going to have to learn some new skills, some of which may not come naturally to us. We’re going to have to be creative. We’re going to have to fight the urge to give up. We’re going to have to have patience. We’re going to be outside our comfort zone. But anything worth having is worth fighting for.


This right here.

If I were to advocate a warning to incoming campers, it would be something along the lines of: “Stay away if you don’t enjoy learning new things.” Because software isn’t about learning some stuff and then applying it for 30 years. It’s about constantly learning new things and continually reinventing your own skill set.

It’s one of the reasons I disagree so strongly with the “anyone can code” credo. Maybe anyone (or the vast majority at least) can learn the basics of writing a functioning program. But it’s pretty clear to me that most people do not have the drive/desire/ability to thrive in the long haul of constant learning that is software development.

OP: I don’t know if you can truly thrive in this field or not. How could I? But the community here is very welcoming and can help give you the support you need to get through the doldrums.


OP mentioned the local weather project, which is still front end (even if it involves interaction with the back end). It’s more likely that the difficulty is related to synchronous vs asynchronous code. There is a cognitive leap required here, but it’s no greater than the many similar cognitive leaps you’ll need to make over the course of learning to code, all of which require dedicated research and a little applied brainpower to overcome. I’d recommend you persevere with this one, though. If you find the learning process challenging yet interesting, you have a long and rewarding path ahead of you. If not… Well, maybe coding is really not for you, but at least you can say you tried.


You know what’s funny, after I posted that I went to check the map to see where the weather app project came up and low and behold it was in the front end section. Which peaked my interest so I did some searching. I always assumed API’s were back end, but apparently (depending on the API) can be either front or back. So TIL :laughing:.

You raise an excellent point about dedication and interest. And maybe that’s the warning to campers…anyone could go through the process of learning how to work with a language but if it doesn’t strike an interest and desire in them to go further with it, to want to continue with it even when it’s super frustrating, then maybe coding isn’t for them. Or at the very least maybe that language or area isn’t for them.


I can’t for the life of me wonder why you blame FCC for your shortcomings. It is not FCC but the fact that either a as your self reflection stated you are not suited for coding but I would hazard a guess that it is something more deep than that.

But besides that like many have stated and I will state as well is to ask for help if your rant here is more of a frustration than an obituary of your journey of coding. I am pretty sure there is not a soul on his forum myself included that has not at one point in time asked for help because if coding was that easy we would teach rabbits to do it and go do something else.

But either way I wish you the best in your adventure we call life.