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From language courses to the best test prep services, online courses have helped learners around the world conquer material on their own schedule. But now platforms like Springboard and Udacity are getting even more attention, as the demand for specific online courses in business and tech continues to increase.
In Tennessee, that meant offering free online classes by partnering with Coursera in order to help people who may be struggling with their careers but can not afford to enroll in a degree program. Likely this is in hopes that it may help those grappling with both uncertainty and the economic downturn.
But you don’t have to be a resident of Tennessee to take available courses in coding and related business courses. Both Springboard and Udacity have a catalog of courses that may help you shore up your skills– but there are some notable differences between these platforms.
In this article, I’ll compare Springboard vs Udacity for cost, course experience, and overall value so you can decide where you should enroll.
Main Differences Between Springboard vs Udacity
The Main Differences Between Springboard and Udacity are:
- Springboard offers five-course tracks, whereas Udacity offers a large catalog of individual courses
- Springboard pairs you with a mentor and assigns weekly goals, whereas Udacity is entirely self-paced
- Springboard courses run six to nine months and cost a minimum of $12k, whereas Udacity courses run a few weeks to a few months and cost $399 a month
What is computer coding?
While there are many different courses you can take on both Springboard and Udacity, perhaps the most sought after category are computer coding courses– integral to taking more advanced courses, from Data Science to Machine Learning and even some applied analytics within the business field.
Computer coding is incredibly important and essential means providing instructions for computers, apps, and more to perform certain functions. Coding is the backbone of web browsers, social media, and nearly anything you interact with online (and offline computers).
What language is used in coding?
Coding language is categorized into high-level, medium-level, and low-level languages. The highest level coding languages are more automated and easier to work with, while the lowest level languages are the least automated and the most near to binary, or ‘human’ language.
While lower-level languages are difficult to learn, they are the best for versatility and customization.
The bottom line is that all of these programming languages are important– it just depends on what your educational and career goals are for which will be most instrumental. Front-End languages are most concerned with developing and designing web applications; back end concerns internal functions such as algorithms, search engines, and dating mining.
Why should you learn to code?
As I mentioned, coding is essential for a variety of career paths– but taking the best online coding courses also expands other courses you can take. In fact, many Data Science courses recommend or require some basic coding knowledge as a prerequisite. In addition, coding can have benefits even if you aren’t planning on using these skills for a career.
Promising Career Paths
‘Taking an online course by no means promises a job– nor is it equivalent to a degree. But general coding knowledge can open the door to future educational opportunities and career paths. Careers that require coding include, but are not limited to: software development, web development, computer engineering, machine learning, data and computer analysts, network system engineers, and many more.
Many of these careers pay well, with great benefits, and even with an economic downturn, job openings are still promising as well. By learning to code, you’re opening yourself up to many different ways you can use it.
Pursuing Your Own Projects
When you learn to code, it opens you up to using it in your everyday life– you can create your own mobile apps (even simple ones, like something for taking notes) or even create a script mod for a game you love. But even if you’re not into programming for those reasons, having a working knowledge of ‘how things work can provide insight as to how you interact with search engines, email, and more. As a content creator myself, I know how big of a role, for instance, that algorithms can play for audience engagement.
Should you take an online course for Coding or Data Science?
Whether you’re looking for some beginning courses in computer coding, or something more specific like web development, software engineering, or data analytics, making the decision to enroll in an open-source online course from Springboards or Udacity depends on your goals. Here are my top pros and cons for any online learning platform.
Online learning platforms are cost-effective, at least compared to traditional coursework from colleges. For some, you’ll save thousands of dollars, or at least a few hundred. Some traditional courses simply aren’t within budget for many.
These courses are also almost always self-paced, meaning no matter what your work or family obligations are, you can learn when you want to, and go at your own pace.
Open source also means there are no standards for admission: while some courses may highly suggest prerequisite courses or knowledge, you don’t need to worry about your background in academics or previous work– you simply enroll. In these ways, too, this way of learning is low pressure, and, for some, it may be more enjoyable too.
Online learning alone is not for everyone, and that’s certainly true for open source platforms like Springboard and Udacity. Even the best coding courses online cannot promise you a job, nor are they the same as a college degree. A few online courses can still be pricey, and, even with interactive models, you’ll get less engagement than if you were sitting in a classroom with an instructor.
Is Springboard or Udacity the better option?
Springboard and Udacity both claim to offer courses in business and technology that will help you learn in-demand skills, on your own time. But these platforms are not equal in all ways. Here’s what you need to know to make your decision– as well as my personal recommendation.
What is the main mission of Springboard vs Udacity?
I always like to start reviews of online courses by taking a look at what the learning platform is. While it does not tell you everything, it provides a general overview of what the platform promises– and who the platform is intended for.
Springboard makes a rather big claim: enroll in their ‘part-time boot camps for six to nine months and you’ll be able to ‘launch your new tech career.’ This is supplemented by a mentor matching system, and a claim that tuition is on them– but I found, under their terms of service something that seems to contradict that statement:
“Apart from our Springboard Data Science Career Track Guarantee and express refund policies for select Programs, Springboard does not guarantee refunds on any fees or charges related to Springboard products/services, including, without limitation, for lack of usage or dissatisfaction.”
In other words, this branding does apply supposedly to the Data Science Career Track. Granted, when you actually browse through the course catalog, there will be a ‘Job Guarantee’ note beside it.
Udacity has a notably subdued message– while the platform does comment on its expertise and reputation, Udacity claims to embolden “lifelong learning,” with options for learning at your own pace, with interactive lessons. They don’t say anything upfront about pricing– which I’ll address next.
I often don’t declare a winner in this category, but above all, I appreciate setting realistic expectations, and, while not a deal breaker, I take some issues with Springboard’s messaging. Stating their courses will launch a career seems to be stretching– but even more concerning is making it seem risk-free, without fully explaining the policy.
How much does Springboard vs Udacity cost?
Cost is something to keep in mind, even if you have a flexible budget, and there are some key differences for pricing when it comes to Springboard vs Udacity.
Springboard offers long-term career tracks that take anywhere from six to nine months to complete, and you’ll pay per career track– which consists of an extensive curriculum. Pricing ranges from $5,500 upfront for the Data Analytics Career Track (which takes 6 months) to $8,900 upfront for the Cyber Security Career Track (which takes 9 months).
Keep in mind that those are just the upfront costs: they don’t provide the overall cost, but in addition to those upfront down payments, you’ll also be paying a monthly fee, which ranges from a little over $1,000 to a little over $1,500. There is an option to pay a monthly deferred tuition payment.
In total, expect to spend a minimum of $12K, up to over $18K for a career track.
They do offer some free courses, with limited features.
Udacity is priced per course, so do keep in mind that you’re taking one course vs an entire career track, but the pricing is noticeably different. Udacity is by no means the cheapest learning platform, but your monthly fee for most courses is $399, with no upfront payments required.
Courses run an average of two to four months, though some are as short as a few weeks– the catch is, you’re paying monthly, so you’ll only pay for how long it takes you to complete it (you can go at your own pace).
They do offer free courses as well, though these are more limited and don’t offer the interactive projects and features of full courses, For a paid course, expect a fee of a minimum of $399, but an average total cost of $800 to $1500.
To be fair, since courses are shorter in duration on Udacity, if you took courses for a full year on the platform, all at the most expensive price, you’d spend a total of $4,788– still much lower than a single down payment for one career track on Springboard.
This category isn’t close in terms of cost. While I never recommend making a decision based upon cost alone, it’s a bit staggering how much more expensive Springboard is than Udacity. Granted, a full degree in computer programming, for instance, can run an average of $42K, according to a report by the U.S. News, but you’re also not getting the equivalent of a degree on Springboard. All told, Springboard is very expensive compared to Udacity.
What courses are offered on Springboard vs Udacity?
Both Springboard and Udacity have offered online business courses in coding, tech, web development, data science and more– but their offerings, and the structure of those course offerings–vary quite a bit.
Springboard allows you to enroll in career tracks, which means a long-term curriculum that lasts half a year to ¾ of a year. You have to wait until a current cohort is open to enroll, though you have the option to be placed on a waiting list.
There are five career tracks: Data Science and AI, UX Design, Data Analytics, Software Engineering, and Cyber Security.
Udacity has a rather extensive list of courses, both in Data Science and Computer Coding, and related disciplines.
Some notable courses include SQL, Data Analysis, Predictive Analytics, Data Engineering, Programming (Python and R), Marketing Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Machine learning, Deep Learning, Data Structures, Data Visualization, Algorithms, Data Streaming, courses in Artificial Intelligence, and many others.
This category comes with a caveat: it’s hard to directly compare course offerings, due to the difference in the way they’re structured on Springboard vs Udacity.
Still, if you’re looking for more flexibility and variety, Udacity is the better choice. Springboard does essentially provide you more directly by providing a full curriculum, whereas on Udacity you’ll be picking your own courses– so it all depends on what you most prefer.
What is the course experience like on Springboard vs Udacity?
No matter what you think about the pricing or course offerings, I cannot stress enough how important it is to enroll in a course that will provide you with a great learning experience. I always look for a blend of learning delivery methods, interactive or hands on projects, and some level of personalization as you learn.
Springboard has a unique system: once you enroll, you’ll be paired with a mentor, based upon a personal questionnaire prompting you to express your current skills, schedule, and goals. This is an actual mentor, not an automated system, which is really refreshing and makes your learning experience feel more personalized.
Learning is self-paced to a degree– mostly in that you can log on and complete assignments in a way that suits your schedule, though you do need to complete assignments within a certain time. Your mentor will provide weekly goals for you– which may be helpful for those who get off track and may feel impeding to others.
Lessons are offered on an easy-to-use interface, and unlock as you make progress. The course content is comprehensive and well developed. Some do require a test of prerequisite– which is actually positive because that means there’s less chance you’ll take a course you’re not prepared for.
Each course also comes with hands-on projects. These range from problem-solving to real case scenarios. I also like that mentors provide direct feedback on your projects, while also providing you with career planning and interview tips.
Udacity also has some opportunities for active learning, though those experiences are more limited and less personalized. You won’t be paired with a mentor, and progress who make it on your own accountability. This suits a more casual learning experience but also doesn’t offer quite as rich of a learning experience.
Udacity courses, just as is the case with Springboard, are well developed, well organized, and thoughtfully designed. The user interface is simple to navigate, and courses are entirely self-paced– the only pressure is that since you’re paying monthly, you pay more if you take longer to make your way through the course.
Text and video lectures deliver the main content, which is enhanced through quizzes with instant feedback, interviews with professionals, and projects.
Projects include both smaller projects and capstone projects for long-term courses. I really like the real-world applications of these projects, and how creative they are.
This is a hard category to call– it depends a bit on your personal learning style and goals. For some, the Udacity model may actually be more practical and less stressful, but Springboard gets an edge for more personalized learning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: To join a class on Springboard, you’ll select the career path of your choice, then wait to see availability. Students are admitted in cohorts; if a course is not currently available, you can request to be placed on a waiting list. You’ll also be required to fill out a questionnaire and then be matched with a mentor, which makes the online learning experience more personalized.
Answer: Udacity has partnered with Google for some of its courses, including a series of Android Development and Android coding courses.
Final Decision: Enroll in Udacity and Save Money
Springboard for some may seem a better learning experience, but there are simply too many strikes against Springboard. It’s very expensive, even factoring in mentorship, as well as less flexible than Udacity, and with fewer options.
Udacity courses are just as well designed, and they enjoy high professional and consumer ratings. Springboard, on the other hand, has received an unofficial F rating on the Better Business Bureau due to consumer complaints and is not transparent about its money-back guarantee.