Which Universities Have the Best Coders in the World?
Hackerrank tried to answer this very question recently. They held a programming competition involving approximately 5500 students and a hundred different schools. Using their results, they determined which top 50 colleges had the best developers.
They concluded that meritocracy prevails where coding skills are concerned, and that great programmers can be found in any school, not necessarily the most prestigious ones listed in official academic rankings.
We were curious to create our own CS college rankings, too.
Searching for the Best Universities to Learn Code
An Emotional Topic
The ranking of the best universities and schools to learn coding is both a sensitive topic and a tricky problem. It always creates quite a lot of turmoil when such rankings are published. Every Computer Science student is dying to see what position their university is going to get. Results are intensely debated, up to the point of questioning the validity of the rankings if other universities, supposedly lower in “official” rankings, get listed higher.
There are multiple ways to rank CS students and their universities. US news & World report has its own methodology. Coding platforms have others. Let’s dive into it.
How to Rank CS Students
One must understand that there are a lot of characteristics which make a software developer a great developer. We revealed 10 characteristics of an excellent developer a few weeks ago. There is no ideal way to rank CS students because it would mean taking all of them into account.
At CodinGame, we assess coder skills in multiple ways. We have individual training puzzles, artificial intelligence challenges, multiplayer games, optimization problems… Some activities are asynchronous, some have time limits, and others are just for fun.
We decided to take the data used to compute the current multiplayer leaderboard. We took the schools having a minimum of ten students on the platform and computed the average scores of the five best coders among these students. This amounts to 700 schools and 13,000 students.
The Unavoidable Bias
We’re super proud to see French schools at the top of our rankings. We French certainly like to compete and test our programming skills against others. However we are a French company based in Montpellier, south of France. Our initial user base was French; it has without a doubt an impact on the results. This geography bias is unavoidable.
Every coding platform could do such a ranking and get different results.
So why is it worth talking about this at all?
Beyond rankings, what seems important to discuss here is why CS students indeed use coding platforms. To find out, we conducted a survey to which 1,026 students from our community responded. We asked students why and how they were using coding platforms.
Why and How Students use Coding Platforms
The Rise of Coding Platforms
20% of respondents stated that they use at least three coding platforms on a regular basis. Using one coding platform is already quite something, but three! 34% of respondents declared spending more than one hour per week on them. A few (13%) actually spend more than three hours per week.
There are several points to make here.
First, coding platforms have made learning to code easier. They are browser-based, so no need to worry anymore about the coding environment. It is provided, accessible from anywhere, without installing anything. Students can experience the pleasure of coding hassle-free.
Second, coding platforms enable users to assess their programming strengths and weaknesses, so they can continually improve their skills.
Finally, they introduce students who are newcomers in the world of programming to a vibrant community of passionate coders. They can learn from expert developers, experience peer-learning, get feedback on their code, ask for help and compete with friends.
The Academic Purpose
28% of respondents indicated that they used coding platforms to better succeed in their academic curriculum. CS teachers might have introduced them as a stimulating support for their courses. Or students may simply want to practice the skills they’ve learned at school by solving coding puzzles at home. A lot of respondents certainly feel that coding platforms help them complete their academic curriculum.
One of our CodinGame users, Mouradif, actually changed his professional path and entered the computer programming school named “42” in Paris after having spent some time on CodinGame. The 42 school is well-known for its redefined learning practices: teacher-less, hands-on and project-oriented.
“I discovered programming thanks to CodinGame. Solving problems and trying to optimize results was fun. After I graduated from business school, I quickly got disappointed by my domain through three bad job experiences. At the same time I was getting better at coding, contest after contest. Until the point when I realized I was not so bad. I then decided to start again from scratch and apply for the 42 school.
I believe hands-on is the best way of learning how to code. My experience on CodinGame really helped me to enter 42 and also afterwards during French coding competitions where I ranked high.”
Preparing for the Professional World
As a matter of fact, 40% of our survey respondents use coding platforms as an aid in the pursuit of their career plans. Whether students use them as a way to learn new programming languages, practice and improve their current coding skills or showcase what they’re capable of, using a coding platform might be the little difference that could tip the scales in their favor in a recruitment process. Coding platforms also represent a training playground for technical interviews.
The survey shows that more than 50% of respondents are convinced that their level or rank on such platforms could be useful professionally. The other half might change their mind once coding platforms begin delivering official programming certifications. The ability to showcase their acquired coding skills with some sort of programming resume is also undoubtedly going to become a reality.
Coding as a Hobby
93% of respondents declared using coding platforms for fun! That’s what is the most striking, but also probably the most logical. Programming is not just for school or work. It’s a passion. Great programmers usually work on personal coding projects at home. So do great computer science students. Coding platforms provide the perfect fun brain-teasing challenges computer science students could be looking for.
Gamification of coding platforms is also a key point here. Through games and small fun challenges, learning how to program becomes easier.
If you’re interested in the survey, you can check the results here.
At CodinGame, rather than telling students which are the best universities to go to, we want to give them the tools they need to learn by themselves, discover, compete, discuss… and above all, enjoy programming. Because programming is fun.
Our mission is to help them reach their full potential with a platform that can complement their educational pathway, whatever college they attend; or, if they are self-taught, to give them resources to learn and practice for free.
New on CodinGame? Try out our easy coding puzzles