UPDATED 9/2/2017: in addition to the links and tips on this page, I found a few great resources that are new through Coursera. Coursera is a Massive Open Online Course program that offers free courses and/ or allows you to purchase courses that lead to a credential. Here are a couple worth looking at:
Parents constantly ask for computer science courses for their teens, and I have never had a really good suggestion…. but I think there is a gem offered by Popular Mechanics! It’s a complete computer science bundle for $39.
At that price, it’s certainly worth a look. It’s 8 courses that your teen can do at home on the computer. These are the same courses typically taught through the computer science “boot camps” that are popular right now -but not producing results as expected…Coding Schools Failing Their Students.
“Today, 91 full-time coding boot camps exist in the U.S. and Canada, according to Course Report, a research group that tracks the industry. Almost 18,000 people will graduate from them this year. That’s up from 43 schools two years ago, and about 6,000 graduates. Tuition averages over $11,000 at non-degree granting programs that generally last around three months, but it can go as high as $21,000. Some schools take a cut of future salary instead of tuition.” -Bloomberg News
While there isn’t a CLEP or DSST exam for computer science, there are two Advanced Placement (AP) exams your teen can take! Depending on your teen’s score and target college, they can earn 3-8 college credits for a passing score. If someone signs up for this series, I’d love to get feedback, especially if this is used as the foundation for AP exam(s).
Popular Mechanics Computer Course Set:
From 0 to 1: C Programming – Drill Deep
Byte Size Chunks: Java Object-Oriented Programming & Design
From 0 to 1: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java
From 0 to 1: SQL And Databases – Heavy Lifting
From 0 to 1: Learn Python Programming – Easy as Pie
Learn By Example: C++ Programming – 75 Solved Problems
From 0 to 1: Raspberry Pi and the Internet of Things
Case Studies: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple
Angel from our Texas Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group suggests MORE JAVA for teens considering the AP exams. She writes “I’d rather pay $155 for the Teen Coder course and know I was getting something aligned to the test. I have spoken to teachers who use this every year and have had great success with it.” If you’d like to explore her suggested resource, check out the Teen Coder Course.
Let me add a last option – MOOCs. Your teen can take free college level courses through Coursera. These are great because you don’t have a big application process or entrance exams – just sign up and go. If you want, you can even do “bundles” that they call Specializations. These are sets of courses that award a certificate (for a fee). These classes can work for high school credit, or rolled into college credit by exam (AP) or the full certificates might be a great alternative on your student’s resume.Computer Science on Coursera