Lindsay Levine lasted only a year at a traditional four-year college, despite a strong interest in computer science. "I wanted to do more in practice than theory," she said.
After dropping out, Levine found Fullstack Academycoding boot camp based in New York, and completed a three-month program, which cost $13,000 at the time. She was hired as a software developer immediately after finishing and now works at Venmo, a digital payment application, making a six-figure salary.
"I feel really excited about the future, which was something I couldn't say for a long time," the 23-year-old Levine said.
In part because of the rapidly rising costs and the ensuing debt burden, many would-be college students are discovering alternative occupational programs in industries with high-growth potential like software engineering.
Nationally, the college completion rate fell to about 52 percent of students from 56 percent over the past three years at public and private four-year institutions, while college enrollment has also declined overall, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
"What we are seeing is that there is a growing variety in the kinds of pathways students take," said Jason DeWitt, research manager at the Clearinghouse.
Coding boot camps are increasingly popular. Fullstack, for example, says it gets 300 to 400 applicants per session, which start every two months. A class size of only 35 makes it as competitive as some of the most elite colleges, according to Huntly Mayo-Malasky, Fullstack's director of admissions.