How To Escape Tutorial Hell
Mar 28 2020
Ever been trapped in tutorial hell? It is the absolute worst place for beginners starting out in software engineering to be, and yet so many people get sucked into it.
This problem only arose to me when a friend of mine, Anthony Kuang, reached out to me for help. He was struggling with being stuck in tutorial hell, and I gave him some advice. A question arose in my head, “How many other people are struggling with tutorial hell as well?”
What is tutorial hell?
If you’re unfamiliar with what tutorial hell is, it is a phase of learning where the victim is dependent on tutorials and direct teaching and stays that way. Those in tutorial hell are incapable of learning new topics and technologies without help from others or a guided tutorial. Tutorial hell is like quicksand — if you don’t escape fast, you will just be sinking deeper and deeper into it.
I have nothing against tutorials, I love tutorials! Many software engineers, including myself, have jumpstarted their career learning from tutorials and online resources. Though tutorials are great, one flaw is that it never challenges you to think for yourself. Tutorials are amazing tools to learn from and get started, but remember, it is only a tool. Tutorials help you learn concepts you wouldn’t be able to learn on your own, but it will not teach you everything you need to know. You could take a tutorial on everything you could possibly need to know to land a job as a software engineer, but somewhere along the line, you’re going to have to think for yourself. If you can’t think for yourself, be creative, and solve problems on your own, you won’t get anywhere in software engineering.
Why do people get stuck in tutorial hell?
Tutorial hell is notorious for sucking in beginners in software engineering because tutorials are a fundamental way of learning. But there are two big reasons why people get caught and stuck in tutorial hell:
People think tutorial hell is how you learn
Though they may not know it, some people truly think that tutorial hell is how you learn, so they willingly go from tutorial to tutorial, building boilerplate projects. This isn’t their fault, they just were never taught better. But, mimicking an instructor’s code and thoughts is not productive or smart. It limits creativity and doesn’t really teach you anything if you never think for yourself.
People don’t care enough to escape
Some people just don’t like programming, and that’s fine. But, this doesn’t just apply to the people who don’t want to continue down the path of software engineering. This also applies to the people who want a career in technology, but don’t want to put in the work to really master their craft. Learning is never easy, it’s really hard to start to understand something you’ve never encountered before. But, if you’re not willing to put in the work to truly understand what you’re learning, either quit or get off your ass.
How can you escape tutorial hell?
The part we’ve all been waiting for. There are many things you can do to escape tutorial hell, but these are three things I did to avoid tutorial hell altogether, as well as escape it for anyone trapped in it.
Play around with the code
In the middle of the tutorial and you learn a new function, method, or framework, pause the tutorial. Look at the code you just wrote and tinker with it. Change numeric values, write quick scripts on the side, and modify the code as a whole to see how it changes. This will help you understand the code on a deeper level and the active thinking will help the concept drill deeper into your brain. This is one of the easiest ways you can avoid tutorial hell altogether. This forces you to think on your own and observe the changes that occur when the code is changed.
Build milestone projects
At the end of each tutorial or at certain milestones within the course, I strongly encourage everyone to build a project or a mini-project using the technology they just learned. It forces you to truly think on your own, think creatively, and solve the problems on your own. Don’t follow a tutorial for this project (that defeats the whole purpose), but instead use what you learned to build something that you can call your own. I can say that some of my best projects were built right after I learned how to use a new framework or tool. It not only helps you learn the concept deeper, but it adds to your portfolio! Sometimes, it’s a bit hard to come up with project ideas. If you ever need help coming up with project ideas, please feel free to connect and message me on LinkedIn.
Teach someone else
When you teach someone a certain concept, you need to know it well enough to be able to explain it in your own words. This really gets your brain going, and helps you learn better and faster. I know personally that when I’ve taught others certain concepts and topics, I come out of it understanding it better than if I hadn’t. It’s a really great way to solidify and validate your knowledge of the subject, and will, in turn, help you escape, tutorial hell.
Tutorial hell is not fun. You feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, and you feel powerless to stop it. I hope I provided some insight and helpful advice to those struggling with tutorial hell, and how to escape it. The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about tutorial hell is to never give up and to really be passionate about what you’re learning. If you don’t care enough about what you’re learning, you’re never going to take the extra effort to understand it.
If you have any questions, feel free to message me on LinkedIn!