Do you find yourself starting one coding course online after the other, without finishing the previous ones first? I know I do! It’s easy to get carried away with your expectations about how much you can learn and achieve simultaneously. Yet, the reasons for not finishing every coding course you start are quite simple most of the time. Either we are too ambitious, too impatient, or simply too confused. Having clear goals, realistic expectations, and a supportive community to help you out will help you a lot.
But there are even more easy ways you can make sure you finish each online programming course you start. Therefore, I decided to share my go-to tips with you to help you finish those coding courses, too.
If you are looking for a great online coding course to start, make sure you check out my Recommended Coding Courses For Beginners.
These tips are all focused on what you can actually do without creating too much pressure and stress for yourself. I generally think it is a better, more sustainable approach to build and maintain your motivation from the inside instead of creating it using external pressure. In short, try to focus on the value you will get from each course and the new skills you are learning to help you achieve your future goals.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Please not that this post includes affiliate links, meaning that if you decide to purchase a course or a book through my link, I may receive a small commission for referring you – with no extra cost to you. This helps me keep this website running and providing you with more helpful content in the future. But please, only purchase a course if you feel like it will help you reach your goals! Thank you for your support!
The difference between external pressure and genuine motivation
I have read more than a handful of similar articles to boost your motivation. However, most of them tend to emphasize creating pressure for yourself in order to finish.
They often suggest sharing your goals on social media and within your social network in general. Moreover, many of them recommend investing some money in the course. That way, you are more driven to get some kind of a return on your investment.
Now, any sort of pressure, whether social or financial, might work for some people. But it is far from creating genuine motivation towards reaching your goals. All it will do is to create expectations towards you.
So what’s wrong with expectations, then?
Expectations make you accountable. Either to yourself or to others. And that’s not what learning new skills is about. You should not feel accountable to anyone when you wish to acquire new skills in programming – or anything else for that matter.
I’m not saying you should never have expectations towards yourself. It’s just that expectations stem from a desire to succeed and to have things go a certain way. If something goes wrong or if things don’t turn out the way you (or someone else) expected, you will feel disappointed. And that is the last thing you will need.
Learning is not about succeeding. It’s about learning new things, gaining new understanding, and acquiring new skills. It’s supposed to be fun and rewarding. That’s when you will start to feel motivated and driven towards your goals for the right reasons.
Alright, let’s cut to the chase!
— Read also: 10 Tips For Learning Coding More Efficiently
13 Tips For Finishing Every Coding Course You Start
1: Make sure you have enough time to study
Make a study plan. It doesn’t need to be anything too fancy or set in stone. Simply be mindful about how much time you can commit to a course per week.
If the topic is new or the course contents are very extensive, make sure you have enough time to go through it all.
Also, if you can, only start one course at a time at first and finish it before starting the next one. If you are starting your very first programming course, you will have enough work with that one already. Trying to finish several courses simultaneously will only flood your head with more questions. You will most likely end up feeling too confused to even finish a single course at that point.
2: Don’t rush it
This is just as important as managing your time. Since you are learning something new, take your time to understand the course contents. It is perfectly normal to need plenty of time to take it all in.
Do one thing at a time. If you have a question, find the answer first before asking yourself more questions. As with all new things you learn, sometimes these questions can make you feel overwhelmed. Keep it cool, write them down and look for the answers for one question at a time.
Also, make sure you understand the basics before you proceed to more advanced concepts. The topics usually build on top of each other. Thus, knowing the basics is simply necessary to understand the following lessons and to keep you from feeling confused.
3: Manage your expectations
Be realistic about what you can accomplish and learn in a given period of time. This is the most important point for creating a study schedule for yourself.
I usually create a schedule for myself and rather set my goals too low than too high. But why? Simply because I prefer feeling like I have exceeded my goals rather than feeling disappointed for not reaching them in the first place.
Feeling like an over-achiever most of the time helps me with finishing every coding course I start, time after time.
4: Get to know the community
You are not alone!
One of the most common reasons behind giving up with a course is the lack of support. You might not be actively looking for it, but it helps so much when you get stuck or face other problems.
Most online courses have a great community of current students, instructors, and alumni to catch you when you fall. For example, Udemy has a discussion forum for each course, freeCodeCamp has a very close community and a Facebook group you can join, and Team Treehouse has an open discussion forum where you will find a helpful community to support you.
Once you are nearing the end of your course, head back to the forums and see if you could help someone who is just starting out in return!
5: “Meet” your instructor
Any online course is only as good as its instructor. In addition to their skills and expertise, their teaching style also needs to fit your preferences. It’s nothing personal, but sometimes an instructor might talk too quickly or not clearly enough for someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language, for example.
If you are planning to pay for an online course, see if you can watch a couple of preview videos for free before purchasing anything. This allows you to see whether you like the instructor enough to spend hour after hour listening to them.
Remember: you are learning new things, so you really need to understand the instructor and feel comfortable with their teaching style. I personally appreciate an instructor who is focused, structured, and simply cuts to the chase.
6: Pick a course with an approach you like
All of us have different ways of learning. You might prefer quizzes and video lectures, while I’m more into learning by reading and building bigger projects. Perhaps you need some more guidance with a new coding topic? In that case, go for an online course that offers a closer contact with the instructor or TA’s.
Simply identify your learning style and go for a course that uses teaching methods best suited for your preferences. Whatever they are, I would always recommend courses with lots of quizzes, coding challenges, and real-world projects included. There is no better way to understand what you are learning than applying your new skills to practical projects of your own.
7: Be aware of the value from the course for your future
What are your goals for the future with coding? Are you learning to start a new career or just as a hobby?
Think about what motivates you to learn how to code in the first place. If you are just starting out with coding, have a look at my Free Coding Guide For Beginners. It will help you choose the right tools to learn for whatever it is you wish to do in the future.
Knowing how to code is a valuable skill in a number of fields, like:
- Web development for the WWW
- Gaming and entertainment
- Data analysis and machine learning
- Mobile app development etc.
Once you know what you wish to build or achieve with coding, look for a course that will actually help you get there. That way you can feel confident that finishing every coding course you start will really take you one step closer to your goals.
8: Browse through the course contents
Good instructors can create courses with clear contents that are logical and easy to navigate.
Also, pick a course that has the types of content that you prefer. If you love video lectures, see if the course has enough of them. Or in case you are a fan of written step-by-step tutorials, choose a course that consists mainly of those.
I personally take a close look at how the course is structured before I purchase it and start learning. Sometimes I have seen coding courses where the consecutive modules were either completely separate, not building on top of each other, or where the same topics were covered more than once. Now that’s just poor planning from the instructor.
Looking for an online coding course with structure and consistency? In that case, Team Treehouse is the perfect choice for you. Their learning tracks in various fields of programming and web development offer a smooth, guided learning experience with a clear goal.
This link will give you a FREE 7-day trial at Team Treehouse to get you started.
9: Create a routine
Have a clear idea about when and for how long you will learn each day. Are you more active in the morning or later in the evening? Use your brain when it does its best job!
Believe me, a daily routine is the best way to keep going and maintain consistency. You don’t need to spend hours every day solving your coding challenges, even 30 minutes is enough.
In the beginning, you will most likely spend more than 30 minutes daily learning coding. That’s awesome! Do it whenever you find the time and the motivation to do it. However, remember to take a short break every 30 minutes or so.
For those days when you feel less driven, having built a routine around your learning process is going to save you from letting it slide. Even when you are not feeling like it, just sit down and open your course notes or coding challenges and see what you can do. You don’t have to force yourself into anything. Simply browse through the course contents, see how much you have achieved already and do some reviewing on your progress. This will give your brain just enough food for thought that is related to coding.
10: Manage your schedule
A single coding course is obviously not the only thing in your schedule. It can take quite a bit of planning to fit a new course into your daily schedule. Therefore, finding the time to study is one of your top priorities for finishing every coding course you start.
— Read also: How to Find Time for Learning Programming?
Make sure you have a notebook or a proper calendar to plan your days ahead. This will help you with the previous point so that it’s easier for you to create a routine out of your learning.
When you have a clearly designated time window for your coding course every day, it is much less likely that “something will come up” suddenly that disrupts your routine.
Also, remember to schedule breaks for yourself! Giving your brain some time to breathe allows your to process the information you have been taking in. Stand up, walk around, and get some fresh air if you can.
11: Track your progress
So far you have managed to create a routine around your coding course and set up a schedule for yourself. Now, you can start thinking about how long it could take you to finish the entire course. You know how much time you can spend learning every day, so sketch a rough outline for your progress and track it as you go.
Focus on specific outcomes and steps for getting there. Chunk up bigger projects into smaller pieces and set mini deadlines for them.
Your plan does not need to be set in stone. But having at least some sort of a clear goal in your head will make it easier to see how far you have come. So don’t feel bad if you need more time for some topics and the course in general.
You will not feel motivated every day. On days like those it is time to look at the progress you have made so far. This is a trick I still use with every coding course I take. It helps me push through it whenever I feel inadequate, not good enough, or like a total fraud!
12: Take notes and create study guides
Yes, just like in school, get your pen and paper out and start taking notes!
Whether you prefer writing on paper or typing your notes on your computer, just do it.
Keep it simple and use an approach that you feel comfortable with. Whether you prefer writing down keywords, drawing mind maps, or taking notes in bullet points, use a method that you can work with the best.
I have a separate note pad for each online course I take. Sometimes I use Google Docs to save my thoughts in case I need to include screen caps or images, for instance.
Having a good set of notes is like having a good cheat sheet of your own. They are so helpful when you’re working on a project but you can’t quite remember that one trick you wrote down during the course.
13: Reward yourself
Do something you enjoy whenever you reach your goals – you have earned it!
Rewards don’t need to be material or expensive. Do whatever you enjoy the most, something that refreshed your mind and replenishes your body for the next challenge ahead.
I usually head out for a bike ride around the city or spend a quiet afternoon at the park with my favorite book. Although, way too often I find myself having fallen asleep on the lawn waking up with that very book on my face.
Summing it up: Finishing Every Coding Course You Start
Learning coding is just like learning anything new: it’s difficult, a lot of work, and sometimes confusing. But it can also be extremely rewarding, fun, and exciting! Learning coding has never been easier than now with the seemingly endless resources available online. Thus, starting an online coding course is much easier than finishing one.
I hope these 13 tips will help you as much as they have helped me. They should set you up for success with learning coding online!
Please feel free to share your favorite tips for finishing your online coding courses in the comments below!
Let’s do a short review of the main points in this post for finishing every coding course you start. Firstly, learn how to manage your expectations first. Then, find the time in your schedule for studying and create a routine out of it. During each course, take your time to understand what you learn. Use studying methods that suit your needs the best. Set yourself super clear targets and work towards them in small steps. And finally, remember to reward yourself for success!
Now go ahead and finish those coding courses – and have fun with it!