National University recently partnered up with Sabio to launch an online coding immersive program with the potential to earn college credit. We spoke with Chris Graham and Susan Zukowski from National University and Sabio Co-Founder Liliana Monge to learn more about how this program combines a traditional academic path with the coding bootcamp advantage, who will be teaching the course, and the kinds of career services students will receive.
Tell us about National University! What is National University’s mission?
Chris: National University was founded in 1971 by Learning Development Director of General Dynamics, David Chigos. David’s employees were being deployed for the Vietnam War and couldn't commit to the 13-week semesters at the state university because they only had a month before they were shipped out. In response, he created a four-week course to ensure that his employees would get their degrees and still be ready to fulfill their military obligation. As National University grew, it became famous for this format and for serving adult learners. National University is now one of the larger private, nonprofit universities in California and continues its mission of providing accessible, market relevant education to adult learners and those who want to advance their careers.
Why did partnering with a coding bootcamp – specifically, Sabio – make sense for National University?
Chris: The need for specific skills-based tech training has increased and the university recognized it. We looked at potential technology training partners in coding bootcamps and determined that Sabio was the best partner for us in terms of their curriculum, delivery, mission, accessibility, and their partnership with the faculty and academics.
Sabio is known for training veterans as well! Was this important to the partnership?
Chris: Yes, it was! A quarter of the National University student body is active duty or veteran. We have served those in the military since our founding. Sabio shows that same support, especially in their financing options and the grants they are able to provide. Veterans and active military make up a large fraction of both Sabio and National University communities.
With Sabio, National University is now offering an Online Coding Bootcamp certificate program. What does that actually look like?
Susan: Sabio is providing all the education in partnership with National University. National University provides a certificate of completion for the program, branded with both National University and Sabio. The training is through Sabio's online program. Since we are in the wake of COVID-19, in-person classes are not available.
Students have three online track options for this certificate program:
A full-time program that meets from 9am to 9pm on Monday through Friday, with a half day on Saturday.
A part-time program that meets in the evenings and weekends. Students attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 9pm and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
A part-time program that meets all day Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 9pm.
The part-time program runs for 6 months. The full-time program takes students 13 weeks to complete.
Do students receive college credit for completing the bootcamp?
Susan: Once students complete the program, we have challenge exam tests built into the Sabio program in collaboration with National University faculty. When students take the test, it is reviewed by National University faculty. If they pass, they will receive academic credit for three separate courses, which applies towards our bachelor's degree in Science in Information Technology or Information Management.
In designing this program, why was it important to offer college credit?
Chris: National University believes that students should have the option to stack relevant training towards academic credit. It was important for us to make the education students receive from Sabio applicable to completing their degree. Students now have the opportunity to advance their careers even further by pursuing academia while submerged in the tech industry workforce. We took our time to choose the right coding bootcamp partner because we were looking for a bootcamp that would work alongside our faculty and build a pathway. That's what Sabio did. We took the time to build a solid partnership so we could collaborate effectively.
How many students does National University accept into each Sabio cohort?
Susan: Our cap is 20 students per cohort. This program is so hands-on, so although we normally have open enrollment courses, there are more limitations in this program as to how many students can be in a cohort.
Liliana: Students from National University who are enrolled in this program as well as our Sabio students will blend together into one cohort.
What is the application process like for this program?
Susan: Students apply online where they register for a pre-work course that requires them to show what their current aptitude and abilities are. The course gives them coding challenges focused on front end code. When students pass the pre-work assessment, we accept them into the program. Offering prospective students firsthand experience with a sample of the work helps them to decide if this is something they want to do.
Do applicants need to know how to code to apply?
Susan: They do not need coding experience going into the program, but they need to pass the pre-work assessment. They can enter the program with a high school diploma. They don't need an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, as long as they can navigate through the pre-work through Sabio's online platform.
Are there scholarships and/or tuition assistance available to students of this program?
Susan: There are multiple payment plan options through Sabio, including two different financing choices. For students with our partner organizations, there are tuition discounts and scholarships available. Federal college funding does not qualify for this program, but there are a few private funding options. For veterans considering the program, we recommend reaching out to connect with us on VA funding options.
Is there an ideal student for this program?
Liliana: This program is for the individual who wants the best of both worlds: attending a bootcamp and earning college credentials. Students can pick an academic path that includes the opportunity to jump into work right away. Everyone knows that a good coding bootcamp leads to employment. Now, it also leads to college credit! Students can have an exceptional professional career while still securing their undergraduate degree with National University.
Susan: We especially want to get the word out to our veteran and military students. Transitioning military personnel can use the program to move forward in their lives on an alternative career path. We are seeing so many job opportunities in the tech industry, and having these technical skills continues to be a growth area.
What do students learn in the program? Is it the same curriculum as Sabio’s immersive?
Liliana: This program follows the Sabio bootcamp curriculum. Our technical assessments allow students to earn college credit, which makes this partnership unique.
Who are the instructors for this program?
Susan: The instructors are from Sabio. National University faculty will review and sign off on every student’s final exam in order to determine if they receive academic course credit.
What kinds of career services can students expect from this program?
Liliana: We offer extensive and robust career support throughout the entire program. This program leads to a firm foundation for the job hunt, including a solid resume, GitHub profile, and LinkedIn profile. We also have an extensive employer network with companies, such as Microsoft, Google, and Twitter. Graduated students continue to receive access to weekly workshops where they may continue to develop their capabilities in data structures and algorithms.
Will students have a demo day like we see at other bootcamps?
Liliana: On the last Friday of the course, we will host a demo so students can show their project to the entire community and anyone else interested in participating. At Sabio, we do one massive project per cohort where everyone works as part of a large team. At the demo day, each student presents the part of the app that they built.
What kinds of jobs will graduates of the program be eligible for?
Liliana: Graduates of the program will be eligible to fill the roles of Full Stack Web Developer, Web Developer, and React Specialist, to name a few. Graduates can work in any tech company, within any tech department.
What makes this program better than just a 4-year degree or a coding bootcamp?
Chris: This program allows students the freedom to gain immediate skills to enter the job market right away as well as college credentials to pursue a degree. There are very few bootcamps that do that! What National University strives to do is to increase access by eliminating redundant overlap between training and academic content. If we can teach our students job-ready skills while preparing them for a degree, we can build better access and give people a chance to not only learn but apply that knowledge right away.
Do you expect that this program will increase diversity in tech?
Liliana: National University has a commitment to diversity with a broad student body. This program’s unique format and focus on the veteran community offers an advantage for everyone. Our innovative model makes National University even more flexible and practical.
Potential bootcampers may worry about what the job market will be like when they graduate – What is your advice to them?
Liliana: There is opportunity everywhere. Because of COVID-19, job positions that were once local have become remote, which increases the job positions open for students to apply to! If you are coding with us and follow the job search protocol that we detail, you will find a company who needs your exact skill set. Even in today's economy, there is still a lack of technical talent. Many retail chains are closing brick and mortar operations and plan to beef up their e-commerce capability. If you have concerns about the labor market, the only solution is tech or healthcare.
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