Are self taught programmers better than other programmers?

The recent trend seems to be away from traditional schooling and more towards people teaching themselves and so the natural question arises, What traits differentiate someone who was self-taught v/s someone who acquired through schooling?

I use the term code junkie to describe a person who is obsessed with code. This person thinks about code every moment he spends. These are the type of people who have a green dot on their GitHub profile throughout the year.

Let’s take a few examples of people who took the self-taught route:

  • Larry Ellison (Oracle)
  • Daniel Ek (Spotify)
  • Steve Wozniak (Apple)
  • Micheal Dell (Dell)
  • Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
  • Jack Dorsey (Twitter)
  • Kevin Systrom (Instagram)
  • Mike Lazaridis (Research in Motion)
  • David Karp (Tumblr)


Each of these dropped out from college (except for David Karp, who dropped out of high school). Now, let’s look at a few more self-taught programmers who are quite famous (yet).

  1. Varun Shoor: At age 17 he started his first company, Kayako which introduced cost-free full licenses for open source products and charity. The best part about the company is that till date, they haven’t received any sort of funding from any external investor.
  2. Pete Cashmore: He never attended college and at the age of 19 found Mashable. He is considered top 100 influential people according to Time magazine. His net worth is around $95 million.
  3. Danielle Morrill: Danielle left college to become the first Twilio employee to make ‘Top Tech people to watch’, according to Forbes. She has now left the company and is currently working as co-founder and CEO at Mattermark. Prior to this, she was also the CEO at Referly Inc.
  4. Sahil Lavingia: He dropped out of USC, to become the first designer of Pinterest. In his teens, he also founded Gumroad. His website has managed to raise more than $8.1 million.


So it is quite clear that in order to be a successful programmer, some of the following traits are required:

  1. Patience.
  2. Courage.
  3. Passion.
  4. Creativity.
  5. Logic.

And although skills can be taught in the classroom, these traits can also be developed individually, which will make all the difference.



2 thoughts on “Are self taught programmers better than other programmers?

  1. Thanks for this post. It is just what I needed as I am trying to teach myself to code. I have recently lost my passion but I know if I keep moving forward and have patience, I too can be a success.


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