Written By Liz Eggleston
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!
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Submit an Application Form (we covered this in Step 4)
An Informational or Culture-Fit Interview with a member of the bootcamp’s admissions team
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.
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.
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 Ascent Funding, 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 23% of 2020 bootcamp graduates are using external loans to cover tuition. The most popular lending partners used are Skills Fund (now Ascent Funding), Climb Credit, and Sallie Mae.
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.
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:
Other creative ways to pay for your code school tuition:
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.
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!
Liz Eggleston is co-founder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students choosing a coding bootcamp.
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