As the new year approaches, you might be thinking about the big things you want to accomplish next year – namely, getting accepted to and completing a coding bootcamp in 2019. Although it’s tempting to spend the holiday period relaxing and indulging, there are a number of low-stress things you can start doing to kickstart your goal. Nikki Carter from Fullstack Academy and The Grace Hopper Program lays out five questions to ask yourself to help solidify your coding bootcamp plans.
Good tidings, friends: The time is nigh to start preparing yourself, and we’ve developed this cheat sheet to put you in a competitive position in no time. When your family is crowded around the TV watching the latest holiday movie, grab your mug of hot cocoa and get to work.
1. What time of year would be best for going back to school?
Attending bootcamp involves an opportunity cost, both in terms of the money you won’t be making while in school and on the job hunt, plus the sheer number of hours you’ll need to spend physically in class and studying. When can you afford to expend these resources?
2. What format helps you learn the most effectively?
For example, Fullstack Academy offers full-time, part-time, remote, and women-only options. Compare them, and be honest with yourself about how you learn best, as well as your individual circumstances, in order to decide on a program.
- Full-time is the whole kit and caboodle when it comes to bootcamp. At Fullstack, you’re fully immersed for 17 weeks, surrounded by people who are just as driven as you.
- Part-time can give you a bit more time to absorb concepts and works well if you’re disciplined enough to maintain your study schedule on your own. It can also allow you to keep working during the program, which is essential for many students to even attend bootcamp at all.
- If you can't commit to an in-person, classroom experience, research Online Bootcamps
- Maybe you're looking for a community in your coding bootcamp. Code Platoon, for example, caters specifically to veterans transitioning into tech. And the women-only Grace Hopper program offers deferred tuition, thus removing traditional financial barriers that can keep women from pursuing their tech dreams. On the NYC campus, the Grace Hopper cohorts meet independently of the Fullstack Academy cohorts and grads have told us that the environment was incredibly healing and nurturing.
3. How will you save the money you need to attend
We recommend saving enough to cover your personal expenses while in bootcamp and for three months after, in addition to your tuition and school-related costs. If that’s not a possibility, are you comfortable taking out loans for that amount? Most schools partner with companies to offer students financing packages; Fullstack has agreements with both Skills Fund and Upstart to offer students honest, fair rates to fund their education.
4. How much of a knowledge gap are you facing when it comes to admissions?
The more rigorous of an admissions process that a bootcamp has, the more qualified a developer you’ll be upon graduation. The Fullstack and Grace Hopper admissions process has 3 steps: 1) the application, which is done online and take less than an hour, 2) the assessment, and 3) the interview.
The assessment is done through Hacker Rank, and we typically say that you’re ready for it if you’re comfortable completing Level 6 Codewars problems. The interview is a technical interview that happens via Skype; you’ll meet a fellow who’s recently completed the program, and that person will share your in-browser editor and watch you code through problems in real time. This helps us get a sense of how you solve problems, your logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities, and, of course, your coding strength. Compare other coding bootcamp admissions processes in this video.
If you’re feeling underprepared for the admissions process, here are a few resources to help bolster your knowledge.
If you’re a total beginner:
If you’re well into your coding journey:
If you think you’re almost ready to apply:
- Try out some Codewars problems ranked 5 or 6 kyu (the harder the problem, the lower the kyu ranking)
5. When should you apply?
If you’re one of those people who just needs to do something or you’ll never get it checked off your list, then by all means, apply today. Otherwise, figure out what cohort you’re aiming for based on the answers above and then apply accordingly. Some schools, like Fullstack, have a rolling admissions process, which means that once you are accepted, you can choose any cohort within the next six months. This gives you flexibility and is the reason we encourage applicants to apply early, to make sure you get into your top choice.
If you apply and don’t pass the assessment or interview process, the silver lining is that you now know what you need to work on. And if you are accepted, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your spot is reserved and being able to make appropriate financial and personal adjustments before school starts.
Pro-Tip: The next application deadline for Fullstack and Grace Hopper is Sunday, January 6. If you are accepted, you can start as soon as the February cohort, which begins remote pre-work mid-January and starts on campus at the end of February.
Next Step: Start Practicing
Study, practice, study, practice. Rinse, repeat.
The only way to become a stronger coder is to keep tackling problems and learning as you go. There are so many materials out there you can use to get started or expand your knowledge, it can be both a blessing and a curse—it’s easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis, endlessly researching all of the available options but not spending a lot of time actually learning to code.
Step it up by drilling coding challenges.
When you’re feeling solid about your knowledge base, see how well you fare in timed coding challenges. These can help you get a sense for how you perform under pressure and better prepare you for the admissions process. Fullstack offers a free Admissions Prep Workshop, geared specifically toward familiarizing you with the types of problems you’ll see on the assessment.
Commune with other coders.
Spending the time during the holidays to evaluate yourself, your knowledge, and how that relates to your coding bootcamp goals is time well spent. Just think: a year from now, you could be settling into your new career as a developer, writing up a list of New Year’s resolutions on how to further refine your programming skills, and reflecting on how far you’ve come.
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