Yes, you can. In fact, I taught myself computer programming as a teenager. That’s why I decided to start Flatiron School — because I wanted to share the skills I learned with others without having them to go through the same trial-by-fire experience I went through.
Think of it as an analogy for exercise. You don’t necessarily need a gym to get fit. You can run outside, do push ups or jumping jacks, and still get fit on your own. Some people like a gym for the equipment and community, while others need personal trainers or group exercise classes to keep them motivated. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to get fit, and the same is true of learning.
If you have the ability to learn all alone, that’s great. Maybe you’d benefit occasionally from talking to other people and going to meetups so you can still excel the direction you’re going in. That being said, this is no easy feat, and it’s not for everyone. Learning how to be a developer takes time, effort, and grit. Here’s the thing: the majority of quality programmers don’t just learn and do everything alone. They collaborate with their peers, learn from each other, and work well in teams.
There are a few risks of trying to learn without any support, and many people have tried this and burned out because they have a lack of resources, community, or real motivation to continue forward. This is the reason a lot of people have opted into programming immersives, because it provides a structure and direction that will help bring them directly into jobs in software development.
However, we realize that route is not for everyone, either. If you like some degree of autonomy but you’re also looking for direction and guidance, you can consider learning online — but you should be a bit skeptical of which program you choose. Learning online can be a bit of a minefield. You may get an infinite amount of information, but very little support or community that comes from being with people in person.