The 16 year old coder, Part 3: To Diploma or not to Diploma

This is part 3. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, please do so.

Time to add another note to the saga. Katya has completed the bootcamp and is now taking summer break.

We are now at a crossroads. When fall comes, does she go back to traditional high school? She’ll be behind 3 quarters if she does. Does she go to online high school? Does she just go get her GED? Or even scarier, does she just ignore high school diplomas in general and keep going on her computer science education, looking to enter the industry?

As her father, it’s difficult to know which way to direct her life for now. I don’t want her to suffer because of the lack of a diploma, but I’ll be honest, at this moment, I feel like the work required to do so is a distraction, if not plain waste of time. Having been in the programming industry for a while, if I could get her 12 months of work experience, or a diploma, I’d say the experience is more valuable.

There’s actually a lot of other stuff she could potentially miss out on. In this particular case, I am a well connected individual. At her age, people are anxious to hear about her story, hear from her, and see her achieve in computer science. She is getting some great opportunities to speak at conferences. It’s so rare to have a teenage girl programmer who can speak at conferences, which means that she has some amazing opportunities to not only educate others, but make a name for herself.

Case in point: she gave this talk at ng-conf 2015 in front of 700 people live, and probably another 1000 watching the video stream. It was one of the highlight talks of the entire coference.

She will also be speaking at That Conference (yes, that’s the name) in Wisconsin in August.

I think my biggest concern with pushing her to worry about a diploma right now is the fact that she wants to be a programmer, and even though she has completed the bootcamp, she still doesn’t have enough skills to get a job as a programmer. She needs a bit more in that area before she will be employable. But high school will NOT help her in that regard. Someone who needs a jr developer who won’t hire her now, won’t hire her if she also had a diploma. They care about skills.

So for now, I think as I look at ways to educate her, for the time being I will keep her working with me and studying.


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