Why College Admissions Offices Love Coding Skills

The world of college admissions is as complex as it is crucial. While nothing can guarantee your admission to certain schools, there are obvious positives and negatives when it comes to your application. Of course, solid academic success and good writing skills are known hallmarks of doing well in the admissions system, as are valuable extra-curriculars. However, one less-talked about feature of a strong application is proof of coding skills. You might be wondering why college admissions offices love coding skills; this is due to the unique combination of factors that learning to code demonstrates about your character and skillset. In this article, we’ll look at the main reasons coding can be an asset when it comes to college applications!

What Coding Says About You

While learning to code can actually be fun, it definitely isn’t easy. To become proficient in a programming language, the craft must be honed over a long time period, not to mention the mental acuity it takes to master any coding language. All these factors, plus a few more, can bolster a college application and look good in admissions offices.

From a young age onwards, learning to code can actually affect brain development, in addition to good habits. On the habits side of things, coding requires discipline, organization, and perseverance. Additionally, it hones critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, and creativity. Although based strongly in the math and science realm, the creative aspects of coding help make the activity an all-round brain booster.

Relatively recent studies show that the brains of people who have learned a coding language share similar developmental attributes as those of people who have become bilingual. Active coders are engaging the attention, language processing, and working memory centers of their brains and thus becoming more proficient in those areas. This is one of the reasons why coding for kids has become a trend as of late; both parents and educators are seeing the benefits it has both short term and long term. 

Although college admissions staff won’t necessarily have delved into the research here, they undoubtedly have witnessed the correlation between coding mastery and overall academic achievement. Plus, having learned to code and thus having practiced all these useful intellectual habits sets students up very well for excelling in their chosen major.

Coding for Tech Careers

A large part of why college admissions like to see coding skills in your application is that, in many students, it speaks to a longer term plan for a STEM career.

Sudents who want to pursue a degree such as Computer Systems Engineering or Computer Science will need to learn to code in at least one (if not multiple) languages throughout their university education, and having that skill already in the bag means that they will be better set up to succeed in their degree and even graduate early in some cases. Even for those looking at different technology degree paths or looking into engineering and science programs, being exposed to coding in high school or earlier is a good test of whether they might like that environment and subject area. College admissions offices love to see candidates who have a good idea of what they want to do and are prepared for that journey.

Colleges and universities also prize high graduation and job placement rates. Students that have preexisting coding skills play into that in two key ways. First, as mentioned before, students that can code are more likely to have the skillset and attributes required to succeed in and finish a STEM degree, and thus are a better bet for the college to take on.

Second, coding-related jobs tend to have better placement rates than those in other sectors. A constant rise in digitization and tech implementation globally has led to great job prospects for programmers specifically. Recently, Facebook stated that there will be more than a million job openings for programmers in 2020. This is something that college admissions offices know, and why they see coding skills as a big positive.

Coding and Other Degrees

One of the great things about learning to code is how versatile the skill can be. As covered above, coding teaches good habits and thinking skills that can be applied across the board, from writing to science to design classes. In fact, many college degree paths either require coding or offer coding as an elective choice even if they are not computing-related. Coding is vital for many engineering courses, as well as being applicable to the digital arts, business majors, etc. 

Anytime numbers and data are involved, coding skills can come in handy. Plus, future job prospects can look better even if the position wouldn’t be coding-centered. Plenty of companies love having people on board who know their way around programming. These people can be valuable in helping the company run smoothly, knowing how to deal with computer bugs or glitches, and even automating their work to save time and effort.

David Dodge, the CEO of the coding education company CodaKid, puts it this way:

“College admissions offices are primarily looking for motivated, hardworking individuals who have what it takes to succeed in their college system. And coding plays into all of those aspects! From building good habits and being intellectually proficient, to having a leg up in many of the courses offered at those institutions, kids who code make great applicants, whether they plan to pursue a tech career or not.”


In the end, there are only so many hours in a week, and choosing how to spend those hours is an investment. But there are few more effective ways to invest that time than in coding skills, especially pre-college. College admissions offices who review an applicant with coding skills immediately know that they are smart, dedicated, and creative. In addition, they realize that coding skills are usually a great indicator of college success, graduation, and job placement. These are all key things that admissions offices look for in who they accept. In this way, investing time into coding skills can be a great boost in the college admissions process!

We hope you enjoyed this article; for more on the college admissions process and all other things higher education, head over to our blog!

By Hunter Amato

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