Article


How to Get Into a Coding Bootcamp in 2020

By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated August 13, 2020

Unlike colleges, coding bootcamps aren’t interested in your high school GPA or SAT scores. What they do care about is passion, grit, and determination to change your career. So what does the path look like to get admitted to a coding bootcamp? Follow these 8 steps to get into the bootcamp of your choice!

Step 1: Narrow down your bootcamp options

There are over 500 bootcamps around the world, so it can seem daunting to choose 5-10 to apply to. First, decide which of these factors are important to you: 

  • Location: If you must be in a specific city, then that eliminates a lot of schools!

  • Programming Language/Career Track: Do you want to focus on Front-end Development? Full-stack Development? Cyber Security? Narrow your options down by focusing on a specific track!

  • Time Commitment: If you can only commit part-time, then you’re choosing from a more limited pool. 

And if you know you’ll be attending a bootcamp online, then use this guide to narrow down your Online Bootcamp options. Curious about the best online bootcamps for 2020? We’ve got a guide for that, too!)

Step 2: Go on School Visits

Before you write your tuition check, we recommend visiting schools if at all possible. Most coding bootcamps host info sessions, meetups, and intro classes at their campus – take advantage of these! If you can’t visit the classroom in-person, join an online information session or schedule a video call with the admissions team. 

Step 3: Start Prepping for the Admissions Process

You should start the admissions process ~1-3 months before you want to attend bootcamp. This timing depends on your level of programming experience and the selectivity of the bootcamp. 

If the bootcamp is highly selective, you may need to pass a coding challenge or build a small project during the application process. If you’re a complete beginner, then this means you’ll be spending a few weeks teaching yourself the basics. Find out which programming language you’ll need for the coding challenge – most often, this will be HTML, CSS, or JavaScript – and start learning with an online intro course.

There are many ways to learn basic coding (including teaching yourself), but if you want to make sure you’re covering the right material and quickly, then a bootcamp prep program may be for you. Students who do bootcamp prep programs may have their heart set on a specific bootcamp and want to get in on the first try, or they’re looking for a trial-run. Most of the following programs cover basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; some of them offer application and interview prep. Others also guarantee participants entry into a coding bootcamp or a money-back guarantee.

Even if your dream bootcamp doesn’t require any previous coding experience, you should still start learning before Day One. Alumni who did some self-teaching before starting a bootcamp saw average starting salaries of $68,380, which is about $5000 more than alumni who said they were complete beginners prior to enrolling. 

Step 4: Apply to Bootcamps

Generally, the initial application is a rather simple form and may require a short essay about why you want to do a bootcamp. Unlike universities, bootcamps don’t require application fees, so we recommend applying to a handful of schools. 

You’ll find applications on the bootcamp websites themselves or on the school’s Course Report page – just click on the Apply button

Step 5: The Interview

The bootcamp interview is arguably the most important part of the application process. While every school has a different interview, you can generally expect these steps:

  1. Submit an Application Form (we covered this in Step 4)

  2. An Informational or Culture-Fit Interview with a member of the bootcamp’s admissions team

  3. A take-home Coding Challenge (not every bootcamp will give you a coding challenge, but the most competitive schools definitely will). This could require coding in JavaScript or HTML/CSS or it could be logic only (think: LSAT questions).

  4. In-Person Interview with a member of the bootcamp’s instructional team; you may be asked to talk through your coding challenge or do some whiteboarding.

  5. Notification that you’ve been accepted to the bootcamp! If you are rejected, most bootcamps will give you some prep material to work through so that you can apply again when you’re ready.

Step 6: Research financing options

The average bootcamp costs $13,580 with some bootcamps charging up to $20,000 in tuition

Because code schools are not degree-granting institutions, most bootcampers don't qualify for traditional student loans like Pell Grants. As a result, many students put their tuition on a credit card, borrow money from friends and family, or use savings. As the coding bootcamp industry has grown, so too has the business of financing them. Most bootcamps offer financing options, payment plans, and loan partnerships through companies like Skills Fund, Pave, Climb Credit and Affirm, in addition to scholarships and discounts for women, military veterans, and underrepresented minorities. In our latest research, we found that 26% of 2019 bootcamp graduates are using external loans to cover tuition (that's up from 23% in 2018). The most popular lending partners used are Skills Fund and Climb Credit.

Should you use an ISA (Income Share Agreement) or Deferred Tuition?

Deferred tuition means students pay no upfront tuition (or very little), then start paying a set tuition amount once they graduate and find a job. You should expect to see a fixed total tuition cost that you will pay to the school in installments.

An income sharing agreement means students agree to pay a percentage of their salary to the school for a set period of time. Depending on the school, the percentage can range from 8% to 25%, and you may be sharing your income for 1 year to 4 years. 

Many schools use a third party organization like Vemo Education or Leif to design, implement, and “take the complexity out of” offering Income Sharing Agreements. Schools like General Assembly, Holberton, and Learner’s Guild work with Vemo Education. Leif powers the ISAs behind Lambda School, Thinkful, Digital Crafts, and Pathrise. 

Pros & Cons of ISAs and Deferred Tuition

ISAs and Deferred Tuition align a school’s incentives with those of their students. Essentially, if their students aren’t successful, then neither is the school. Deferred tuition and ISAs remove the barrier of an upfront tuition, expanding accessibility to a wider range of students. However, these payment offerings require schools to take on additional risk, so you shouldn’t expect to see every school offering deferred tuition or ISAs. And because ISAs exist in a regulatory grey area, we also suggest that students take extra precaution and do additional research before committing to an ISA. 

Read the terms and conditions (or better yet, verify with the school) to find out:

  • Does the bootcamp require you to accept the first job offer you receive? If so, this may hinder your own agenda to find a job that best fits your needs.
  • Does the bootcamp require you to earn a minimum salary before you start paying tuition, or will they require you to pay no matter your salary? You could potentially pay a higher percentage if you earn a lower salary.
  • Does the bootcamp have a cap on how much you need to pay once you get a job?
  • What happens if you don’t find a job within a certain time period?
  • Calculate all of your options to figure out the total payments and compare that with any upfront cost options, or regular loan options.
  • In some cases, schools use the terms “deferred tuition” and “ISA” interchangeably. But these two payment structures are quite different!

Other creative ways to pay for your code school tuition:

  • Students who are already employed and are attending bootcamp to gain skills for their current job are often able to work out a deal with their employer to cover some if not all of the cost of the bootcamp.
  • Crowdfunding your coding bootcamp tuition is always worth a try!
  • There are many great scholarship opportunities for coding bootcamps based on merit, gender, race, service in the armed forces, and financial need. Explore all of these options and don’t leave money on the table that you could’ve been putting towards your education!
  • ​​​​​​​Course Report offers exclusive scholarships and discounts to over 25 bootcamps. Check out this list to see if your dream bootcamp is on our list!

Step 7: Lock in your Start Date

Once you’ve been accepted to your dream bootcamp and chosen the best financing option, it’s time to lock in your start date! Most bootcamps have ~4 start dates per year. Many online bootcamps offer a rolling start date and can accommodate you starting sooner.

Step 8: Work really hard, graduate, and get a job in tech!

Now that you’ve gotten into a coding bootcamp and locked in your start date, the real work begins. Tell your friends and family that you’ll be 100% focused on changing your career for the next 3-6 months, learn to code, and commit to a lifelong career of learning and growing as a developer!

Have you been through the application process and want to share your best tips to get into a coding bootcamp? Share in the comments!

About The Author

Liz pic

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

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