ANGELES ó Jared Flores loved the two weeks he spent
this summer at a computer coding school where he
programmed a hand-crafted robot that could steer itself
through a maze.
from the knowledge he gained, the 14-year-old Fullerton,
Calif., boy figures he came away with something just as
know if I continue down this path, I can get into any
college that I want," said Jared, who enters high
school next month.
in computer coding is surging for a growing number of
students stoked by popular computer gaming and
smartphone apps ó and hoping for a crucial leg up when
applying to college and launching careers.
and their parents view coding as an indispensable skill
in the digital era, especially since the number of
programming-related jobs is projected to soar in the
of them have said, ĎThis is my ticket into a better
school, my ticket to a better scholarship or my ticket
to a better job,í" said Ben Sanders, an
instructor in Jaredís class. "They all enjoy it,
but theyíre not just coming here for that
everyone agrees that studying programming in the middle
or high-school years is the key to collegiate or
professional success, but that hasnít slowed the
is taught by at least 371 private entities nationwide,
including specialized websites, adult boot camps and
childrenís summer camps, according to the nonprofit
Kapor Center for Social Impact in Oakland. Of the 153
that disclosed how long theyíve been in business, 108
were launched in the last three years.
iD Tech Inc., which runs the technology camp that Jared
attended on UCLAís campus, the number of students
studying coding at its camps nationwide more than
tripled to 14,878 this year from 4,276 three years ago.
Coding-related classes swelled to 21 from 8.
said programming ability will be in high demand in
kid learns about photosynthesis or the basics of
electricity or what H2O stands for," said Hadi
Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, a nonprofit that
advocates for computer education in schools.
the 21st Century, itís just as important for every kid
to get a basic understanding of what an algorithm is or
how the Internet works or what does SSL stand for,"
2020, there are projected to be 1.4 million
computer-related jobs, but only 400,000 students
majoring in computer science, according to Code.org.
Street has taken note. Venture capital giant Kleiner
Perkins Caufield & Byers, for example, has invested
in Codecademy in New York. Others picking up venture
funding include Flatiron School Inc. in New York and
Treehouse Island Inc. in Orlando, Fla.
in programming among students and parents springs partly
from the omnipresence of technology in childrenís
lives. The ability to develop a computer game or
smartphone app has become ó if not cool ó at least a
lot less nerdy.
start from nothing and create an entire game is really
interesting to me," said Warner Scheibe of
Temecula, Calif. The 16-year-old was at iD Tech studying
how the programming worked on Minecraft, a popular
fear also plays a role for some students at a time when
college graduates, even those brandishing degrees from
top schools, struggle to find good jobs.
unemployment rate for people in their 20s is above the
6.2% national average, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics. It was 10.5% in June for people ages 20 to
24, and 7.2% for those 25 to 29.
46% of recent college graduates say they are
underemployed, according to a survey this year by
management consulting firm Accenture. Thatís up from
41% last year.
contrasts with the seemingly limitless fortunes of tech
workers, said John Boudreau, research director at the
Center for Effective Organizations at University of
Southern Californiaís Marshall School.
see these emerging tech-based companies with lots of
coders with many headlines about great wealth being
created there," Boudreau said.
remains to be seen whether the dash into coding is
as when people studied Japanese in the 1980s, flocked to
Web design in the 1990s or became real estate agents in
the last decade, those seeking programming skills face
not so sure that coding skills are universally relevant
to the future in a vast amount of employment,"
Boudreau said. "Just not everybody is going to be
coding, even though itís an important thing."
some tech evangelists acknowledge the limits.
computer-science skills that include technological
awareness and analytical thinking are more important
than narrow programming skills, Hartovi said.
how to code in any one particular (computer) language is
not going to be worthwhile beyond 10 or 20 years,"
he said. "Learning how to problem-solve using
algorithms and how technology works and how itís built
is going to last a century at least."
expertise doesnít guarantee entrance to elite colleges
outside courses can help a student get into UCLA, said
Gary Clark, the universityís admissions director. But
coding doesnít win extra points.
would not say coding is seen as any better or worse than
any other educational pursuit a student might seek
outside of the school," Clark said.
so, students are cramming into schools such as iD Tech.
Campbell, Calif., company launched in 1999 at the height
of the dot-com frenzy with 270 teenagers. Except for a
lull from 2007 to 2009, iD Tech has grown steadily.
Total enrollment, beyond just coding, topped 36,000 this
year, up from 19,498 in 2011.
company has definitely been in the right place at the
right time," said Alexa Ingram-Cauchi, co-founder
its marketing, iD Tech isnít shy about emphasizing the
potential for a career boost.
got my programming start at iD Tech, then graduated from
MIT in three years and now work as a Product Manager for
Zynga," one alumnus enthuses in a brochure.
STORY CAN END HERE)
school holds classes at more than 80 college campuses
nationwide, including Harvard, Yale and Stanford. It has
seven locations in Southern California, including UCLA
and UC San Diego.
is pricey. A one-week class goes for $799 to $949,
depending on the courses and location. A two-week course
at iD Techís programming academy, in which students
bunk on campus, costs $3,699.
students at iD Tech show a clear passion for coding. But
thatís not the case everywhere, said Reid Warren, a
12-year-old from Manhattan Beach, Calif.
one coding school he attended, some youngsters
complained that their parents forced them to go, Reid
of them said, ĎThis is not my choice. If I didnít
have to, I wouldnít be here,í" he said.
Jared, this is his third iD Tech camp. He went to his
first one at UCSD at age 7. He and his parents stayed in
a hotel because he was too young to bunk on campus.
summerís two-week program was half the price of a full
year at Jaredís private school last year.
getting something out of it, but these camps are not
cheap," said his mother, Lani Flores.
son sees a lot of benefit in associating with other
can get lonely if youíre just in your room all the
time programming, but (here) I can meet people,"
Jared said. "When I say something, they all
understand what Iím talking about."