Skip to main content

Transforming Lives Through Code: freeCodeCamp

· 5 min read
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
Developer Experience Lead

Today is day 11 of my 29 Days of Open Source Alternatives series, where I'll be exploring open source alternatives to proprietary software in the categories of Game Development and Multimedia, Development Tools and Platforms, Productivity and Collaboration Tools, and more. If you'd like to see the list of the open source alternatives I'll be covering this month, head over to my 29 Days of Open Source Alts Page or if you want more open source learn-to-code programs, check out this list.

When I first started learning to code, I started with freeCodeCamp (FCC). I had spent the last nine years of my life teaching college English, and I needed a change. And what I found, changed my life. I had gone through some major life trauma, and I was stuck. I was stuck in the thoughts that cycled through my mind, stuck in loneliness, stuck in a world that kept moving without me.

And at the insistence of my husband (a career-changer himself), I tried freeCodeCamp. And suddenly, all those thoughts that continually cycled through my head stopped - at least while I was coding. It took another year and a half, but I learned to code, and I learned how to move on past my trauma. I couldn't have done it without freeCodeCamp.

freeCodeCamp is a community of people from all around the world who are learning to code together. We're a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Founded in 2014 by Quincy Larson, FCC has revolutionized the way so many people have learned to code, offering a free, comprehensive, and community-driven platform that challenges traditional tech education paradigms.

A Different Approach to Learning

Unlike the rigid structures and high price tags of bootcamps and computer science (CS) degree programs, freeCodeCamp provides a flexible, self-paced learning environment accessible to anyone with an internet connection. With a curriculum spanning from basic HTML to machine learning, there's plenty of opportunity to grow in a way that suits anyone interested in becoming a part of tech.

The Cost of Knowledge

One of the biggest differences between FCC and the alternatives is cost. Bootcamps can charge upwards of $10,000, and a CS degree often carries a much heftier price tag when considering tuition, fees, and the opportunity cost of time.

I highly recommend reading this post by Quincy Larson, A Free Accredited Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science – How Do We Get There? on their approach.

Cost Comparison

Education OptionCostDurationFlexibilityOutcome
freeCodeCampFreeSelf-pacedHighPortfolio of projects, certification
Average Bootcamp$13,5003 to 9 monthsMediumBootcamp certificate, portfolio of projects
Average CS Degree$40,000 to $120,0004 yearsLowBachelor's degree

Flexibility and Accessibility

The self-paced nature of FCC allows learners to tailor their education to their lifestyles, commitments, and learning speeds. This flexibility opens doors for people who work, have family responsibilities, or simply need a more adaptable learning environment.

When I started FCC, I was a mom of four kids, including a one-year-old; I was teaching college English and had no money to spare. There aren't tons of opportunities for people in my shoes. But freeCodeCamp was - and remains - steadfast in its mission to provide education at no cost, and is always something you can work on at your own pace.

Full disclosure: I did ultimately graduate from a bootcamp, where I received a full scholarship to attend, but with my experience with freeCodeCamp, bootcamp, and teaching in Higher Education, I have a well-rounded understanding of the systems created to help others break into tech. It's not a one-size-fits-all path. There are many different aspects to consider, so if you have questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments below, and I'll make sure to answer them.

Community and Support

I know a number of folks involved in freeCodeCamp and I love how they encourage their community. With forums, chat rooms, and local study groups, there are so many spaces for collaboration, mentorship, and encouragement.

fcc contributors

freeCodeCamp has millions of users worldwide, with countless stories of individuals transitioning to tech careers, often from completely unrelated backgrounds. These success stories underscore the efficacy of FCC's approach to tech education.

Open Source

fcc overview

    • Stars: 383k
    • Watching: 8.5k
    • Forks: 35.8k
    • License: BSD-3-Clause license


The real-world projects that form the capstone of each certification allow learners to apply their knowledge in practical scenarios, building applications, and solutions that solve real problems. Many FCC alumni have gone on to develop tools, contribute to open source projects, and even start their own companies using the skills acquired through the platform.

My guess is that many of the people reading this on Dev have used FCC to learn at some point. Drop your stories in the comments.