Insights from one of Treehouse’s top 1% of students internationally

Why I recommend Treehouse, specifically

When I talk about when I first learned to code, I often start after I lost my job in software-as-a-service (SaaS) customer service management in 2015. But that’s not entirely accurate.

I actually stumbled upon Treehouse one day back in 2012. I was working in customer service in the maritime industry, a prominent industry in Portland, Oregon. The industry was really old, and really out-of-date. I was dying for stimulation, and started finding sites where I could learn new things.

I had used sites like W3Schools before, but as soon as I signed up for a 7-day trial with Treehouse, I knew it was something totally different, and just what I needed.

Getting instant feedback really helped me, because I knew I was doing a good job. I became totally addicted to learning anything and everything I could.

So, it’s natural that when I was thinking about which resources to refer other new web developers to, Treehouse was an obvious choice. Having too many options can be overwhelming for new coders, who benefit greatly from having just one place to log in and learn while they get programming basics under their belts.

What does Treehouse cover?

Treehouse’s 28 (as of March 2018) content tracks include:

What I love about Treehouse

Learn relevant, up-to-date topics

In the beginning, Treehouse was admittedly a bit slow cranking out the courses. Nowadays, they release new content every week. Follow Treehouse on Facebook or Twitter for notifications when they release new courses.

In addition to just learning about programming, Treehouse also has courses on entrepreneurship and digital literacy.

Build up points and earn badges while you learn

I did dat! 😊

If you’re a Challenge/Game learner, you love to play and win. Treehouse uses a gameified platform, providing students with points with every completed lesson.

While there are no physical rewards, knowing that I’ve collected nearly 26,000 points and 320 achievements, putting me in the top 1% of Treehouse students, is a HUGE point of pride for me. 🙂

You’ll always know where to go next

Tracks offer a direct path from the end of one lesson to the next, so you’re never left with a slow period.

If you’ve already started teaching yourself to code, you may have already encountered this. You finish a great course, just to look around and think “what next?”.

You’ll never experience this with Treehouse. (Well, the only time you might is while trying to figure out what language to learn next)

But as soon as you finish a course, Treehouse has the next logical step ready for you. Treehouse organizes its many courses into “tracks”, groups of training topics completed in a specific sequence.

Top notch professional instructors

Alena Holligan is one of Treehouse’s few woman teachers, and she will school you in PHP.

Treehouse’s instructors are professional, in-house teachers, so you don’t get courses from just anyone on the internet.

Believe me: this really makes a big difference. Trained teachers understand how to deliver information in a way that is easily absorbed by students of different learning styles. Some people are also really sensitive to tones, and Treehouse’s teachers are kind and upbeat, without being stuffy.

It’s also really nice seeing the same face, and having consistency with your instructing. They’re a little goofy, too. Nick Pettit will lead your first foray into HTML, then Guil Hernandez will introduce you to the world of CSS. Dave McFarland brings the heat with JavaScript. Alena Holligan commands the PHP courses. Zac Gordon will teach you everything you need to know about WordPress Development.

No matter who you have, all of Treehouse’s instructors are passionate about helping students learn to build websites and applications.

Active and helpful community support

Can’t figure out what to learn next? Need help getting through a particular code challenge?

Treehouse’s community forum is linked to the code challenges, so people helping you can see what you’re up against. It’s really helpful to be able to easily show other people your code, and what you’re trying to do. For this reason, it’s one of the most active, international communities of web development students in existence.

No judgment here, either. You’ll get helpful answers to your questions from other students, so you can keep pushing forward.

A complete learning AND programming environment

Treehouse uses Workspaces, a fantastic tool for allowing students to work right within the site. There are some courses that will require you to install individual development environments, but they will walk you through the process step-by-step in a video.

Apart from just a code editor, Workspaces also includes a console. Treehouse saves your Workspaces, and you can reset them to re-do a coding challenge at any time.

Make something really cool? Workspaces also lets you export your work, or download it locally. (Be sure to add each project to your personal portfolio to show potential employers!)

High-quality HD videos

Course videos include important features like Closed Captioning, Speed Controls, 10 Sec Recall, and Easy (Spacebar) Pause/Play.

I knew that I loved videos, but hadn’t truly leveraged being a visual learner to my benefit. I didn’t realize for a long time what a powerful learning tool they could really be.

Treehouse has a library of 1,000+ videos, complemented by interactive coding exercises and quizzes in their native web-based development environment.

With the ability to pause videos, read closed captioning, watch them at 2x speed, and re-watch the videos over entirely again, I suddenly had total control of my learning environment.

If I didn’t really understand something the first time, I could walk away from it, and start from scratch. I soon found that I wasn’t actually starting from scratch, but building on things I had learned on the first pass.

Need more accountability? Try the Treehouse Techdegree Program

Some students just need more accountability (and that’s 100% okay!). The Treehouse Techdegree Program is aimed to deliver the “right portfolio of skills and experience” to help you go from beginner to job-ready in just 3–12 months.

With the Techdegree Program, you get hands-on experience with any of the following:

Techdegree Overviews

Front-End Web Development

Skills you’ll learn: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Development Tools, User Experience

Includes: 24 courses, 145 quizzes, 185 challenges

Completion time: 6–9 months (150–190 hours) to complete

Estimated starting salary: $51,000

Full-Stack JavaScript

What you’ll learn: Development Tools, JavaScript, Databases, HTML, CSS, and more

Includes: 31 courses, 199 quizzes, 211 challenges

Completion time: 7–12 months (240–480 hours)

Estimated starting salary: $65,000

Java Web Development

What you’ll learn: Development Tools, JavaScript, Databases, HTML, CSS, and more

Includes: 31 courses, 199 quizzes, 211 challenges

Completion time: 7–12 months (240–480 hours)

Estimated starting salary: $70,000

Python Web Development

What you’ll learn: Python, Development Tools, HTML and more

Includes: 12 projects, 22 courses, 72 quizzes, 227 challenges

Completion time: 3–11 months (180 hours)

Estimated starting salary: $70,000

iOS Development

What you’ll learn: Objective-C, Swift, Mobile App Development, Development Tools and more

Includes: 12 projects, 25 courses, 106 quizzes, 64 challenges

Completion time: 3–12 months (255 hours)

Estimated starting salary: $75,000

Android Development

What you’ll learn: Java, Mobile App Development, Development Tools and more

Includes: 12 projects, 19 courses, 113 quizzes, 142 challenges

Completion time: 3–9 months (195 hours)

Estimated starting salary: $62,000

In addition to all of Treehouse’s course, you’ll receive:

  • a custom curriculum
  • access to the Treehouse Techdegree Slack Channel
  • access to 1-on-1 video chat sessions with mentors for extra help
  • a portfolio of 12 real-world projects
  • proctored final exam
  • a certificate of completion

Most students complete the coursework in 6–12 months. You can work through it as quickly or slowly as you like, and most Treehouse Techdegree Program graduates go on to land junior developer jobs.

How much does a Techdegree cost?

Techdegree selection screen with pricing and details.

Techdegree programs will run you $199/month.

[NOTE: I highly recommend that you consider this a much cheaper bootcamp alternative, and take full advantage of all it has to offer. It is best for students who enjoy solo learning, and need to pay for accountability, but also want the resources and extra help of a bootcamp program.]

I worked as a Techdegree mentor briefly in late 2016 (until my schedule got crazy) and can say that it is every bit worth the cost — IF you complete your assignments on schedule, and pass on the first attempt. Students will use GitHub as a code repository for your projects, and have access to Slack chat for support and help from other students and mentors.

If you take advantage of the 1-on-1 Zoom video chats with Treehouse mentors — which is absolutely worth doing — you’ll have two (2) of those a month.

Try Treehouse free for a week

Okay, they still require a credit card for the trial. But I recommend really digging into the content and using it right away, so you should know pretty quickly if the Treehouse platform is for you.

If you sign up for a trial, you’ll receive 7 days free. If you ever need to take a break, you can pause your account so you won’t be charged until you’re ready to pick up your learning again. Trust me, the only way you won’t get your money’s worth is if you don’t put in the effort.

Remember that the best courses on the internet are paid in some form.You will get a much higher-quality education if you stick with paid products to learn the fundamentals, which are financially sustained enough to provide updates for relevancy and accuracy.

However, price is not a guarantee of quality, either. Treehouse is one of the few platforms I’ve seen out there that really finds that sweet spot for both price and quality, though.

If you work through the content consistently as Treehouse encourages, on your own schedule, it could take as little as 6 months to find your first job. Perhaps even less if you’re lucky enough to have someone waiting for you with a job at the end of the line.

Even if the course is high quality for being free, remember—if you’re not paying for the product, it’s generally because you are the product.

If you have any questions, I am VERY familiar with Treehouse’s platform — especially the Front-End DevelopmentPHP DevelopmentWordPress DevelopmentFull-Stack JavaScript, and Ruby tracks.


Have you used Treehouse? Your success stories (and not-so-successful stories) are welcome in the comments!

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