App Academy is an immersive 12-week Ruby-focused web development course with campuses in San Francisco and New York City. Students interested in this intense program should expect to put in 90-100 hours per week. The first 9 weeks of the course are focused on learning web development skills in multiple languages, and the following 3 weeks are a robust job-search curriculum focusing on algorithms, interview skills, and other technical interview focused skill sets. Upon graduation, students will have a portfolio of real-world projects to show to prospective employers.
Perhaps the most interesting part of App Academy is their innovative deferred payment plan. Students are only required to pay tuition if they secure a job upon graduation. Students pay a $5,000 deposit for the deferred pricing model, which is refundable provided they attend class and complete the course. Students are only required to pay a placement fee if they secure a job upon graduation. App Academy also has two other pricing models for students — an completely upfront model and a hybrid model that is a combination of the deferred and upfront models.
Interested applicants should expect to submit an application, complete 2 coding challenges, complete an interview and receive an admission decision a few days after the interview. Prospective applicants can also enroll in AppAcademy’s Bootcamp Prep programs to increase their chances of admission from 2% to more than 40%.
Recent App Academy News
- September 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
- Guide to Deferred Tuition and ISAs at Coding Bootcamps
- 14 Alternatives to Dev Bootcamp
Recent App Academy Reviews: Rating 4.68
Full Stack Web Development
- Contingency Fee
- 18% of year 1 salary post completion if tuition is deferred
- Payment Plan
- $15,000 payment plan available
- $5,000 if placed through the school's job placement program (if tuition is deferred)
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer knowledge
- Placement Test
In PersonFull Time85 Seats
Application Deadline:October 9, 2017
In PersonFull Time85 Seats
Application Deadline:December 18, 2017
Bootcamp Prep (San Francisco)
New York City
Full Stack Web Development
- Contingency Fee
- 18% of year 1 salary post completion if tuition is deferred
- Payment Plan
- $15,000 payment plan available
- $5,000 if placed through the school's job placement program (if tuition is deferred)
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer knowledge
- Placement Test
In PersonFull Time40Hours/week
Application Deadline:September 6, 2017
In PersonFull Time60 Seats
Application Deadline:November 15, 2017
Bootcamp Prep (New York City)
$500 App Academy Scholarship
- Full Stack Web Development (San Francisco)
$500 App Academy Scholarship
- Full Stack Web Development (New York City)
App Academy Reviews
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I came in with a little bit of programming experience - enough to know a few basic data structures and the difference between HTML and Ruby, but as I soon learned, not very much at all. The amount of information I learned in the first few days combined to be more knowledge than I had about programming previously. The course has a ton of great TA's, so even if you are feeling overwhelmed, there's always someone to talk to for help. Classmates come from all backgrounds and walks of life, but pretty much everyone was the same beginner when sitting down at the computer to pair. Because everyone is there for the same reason (to learn and become developers) everyone is willing to help out each other.
One warning: the course isn't lying when they say you will spend upwards of 90 hours a week programming. There is plenty of work to do outside of the classroom, and you'll want to do all of it to make sure you don't fall behind. The information is actually quite interesting and the lecture videos are well done, but it will be in your favor to keep on top of the work.
There's also a great alumni network to help find jobs after the course is officially finished. Because App Academy is one of the few long-lasting coding bootcamps, companies have learned that their graduates are different than other bootcamp graduates and are more willing to give potential employees the time of day.
Overall, I had a great experience at App Academy. It nurtures a collaborative atmosphere unlike many other places of learning. Come prepared to class each day, get plenty of rest, and there's no reason you too can't succeed at App Academy.
If you are interested in pursuing software development as a career App Academy will definitely get you there. When other reviews point out that it is really hard and intense they are not lying, but they payoff is more than enough to justify it. You get out of it as much as you put into it. There methodology and curriculum is excellent. Everything is finely crafted so students can get as much as possible from every day at App Academy. Each day you'll leave knowing some new tool or skill you did not know that same morning. The immersive nature of the program really goes a long way.
Pros: App Academy teaches you more information than you'd be able to pick up on your own. They consolidate the most important things in the industry, and package them for you to learn within a span of 8 weeks. However, even taking that into consideration, App Academy's greatest asset is the people. By that I mean, the instructors are extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and your fellow cohort members will be extremely hard working which will push you to work hard as well.
Cons: This will take over your life for 2 - 3 months. There are some outliers where some students get through just fine without spending 90+hrs a week, however for the vast majority, I'd say 90+hrs is the norm. Granted, you're learning so much in within that 2-3 month span, it shouldn't be too surprising how much time you're putting in.
I have a tech background including a good deal of time teaching myself programming and I still learned a ton at App Academy. I had no luck at all trying to apply to jobs when teaching myself. I feel that App Academy gave me the discipline to put together a portfolio I can feel proud of. It also filled in the gaps I had in my knowledge.
I suggest anyone applying to learn a bit on their own beforehand. Even with my self taught knowledge the course was very intense. Some people were able to go from a completely unrelated field and thrive but I feel like it is better to get some practice in first.
Overall App Academy was a great experience and I highly recommend them.
When I was applying to boot camps, I did so simultaneously, to about 4 different boot camps. One of them accepted me right off the bat and I knew they were the wrong choiced. Others asked me to accomplish things in coding challenges that were far beyond my skill level without offering any instruction or legitimate curriculum.
With App Academy, the application process was very challenging, but you are given every opportunity to succeed via their resources. Also, the actual challenges they give you are algorithm challenges, very similar to whiteboarding questions you may get when you interview for a Developer position. This is in contrast to other challenges that ask you to build a Rails Twilio application or some other project that is very practical in nature.
Yes, building an application is a great way of finding out whether someone is a good programmer, but it tells you nothing of their potential. However, if you teach someone some basic programming principles and data structures: what is a string? an array? etc. and then ask them to solve a question that uses those data structures, it is a much better way to guage someones potential by seeing if they are capable of applying what they are learning. Building a full application is much too difficult a task to ask of a newbie without spelling out every step and at that point, you may as well just write the code for them.
So aside from the deffered tuition (which is nice), the application process is what got me hooked on App Academy.
Once you get in, first the first few weeks all you want to do is survive. You will be kicked out if you fail two exams. The first people to go are people who can't type (it's painful to watch them type with only their index fingers) and people who don't speak English as their first language. That's not to say that everyone who doesn't speak English as their first language will fail, not what I am saying. However, the sheer amount of information that will be thrown at you is mind numbing and every lick of it is in English. If there is no language barrier, you still only absorb ~75-85% of what you are taught. If there is a language barrier, that percentage drops. This makes it difficult to keep up in a very fast paced environment. I noticed the people who spoke English as a second language and did well in the class either had prior coding experience or were just insanely sedulous and dedicated to the craft. It can be done, but it is certainly harder.
Once you make it past the survival phase, which is after the fourth assessment (say week 4), then you start to think, "Ok, I don't want to just survive anymore, I want to excel." This is where the course gets really exciting because you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You start to think about things like a programmer. You get re-programmed. That's what this program does to you, it programs you to be a programmer (you like what I did there?).
If you're smart, you may be wondering, "Well what are some flaws, some bad things about App Academy". The one thing I can point to, which I got over once I bought into the program is this: you are not attending a/A to create a startup when you graduate. I have a ton of ideas for startups, yes, but if it's one thing I learned during my time at a/A, it's that programming is very hard and it will take time (and more importantly, work experience) for you to be good. The goal of an a/A graduate is to get a job, not to start a company with a cool new application that revolutionizes an industry. Get a job, pay us back, get some experience, and then go start a company. That is the message and to be honest, I agree with it. Now some other bootcamps, like Full Stack Academy, have avenues for students to pursue their startup aspirations. This is a luxury that only a school who is already paid can afford. At a/A, they don't make money unless you do and most startups don't make money, they cost money (trust me, I know firsthand).
Now, if they don't get paid unless you do, that means they have a vested interest in your getting paid. This system of deffered tuition is one that Milton Friedman espoused in his book Free To Choose. He devised this as a way to pay for education without the government paying for it, but admitted it would be very difficult to implement. Well, App Academy implemented and guess what, it works! The curriculum kicks ass. It is laid out in such a way that each topic builds on the next and moves very quickly so that every week your knowledge grows exponentially. I'm not going to go into specifics on the curriculum, the website does that. But I will say that I remember thinking often, "Wow, this curriculum is so good." Thank Ned Ruggeri et al!
In summary, and this has been a long review, I highly recommend App Academy.
I was in the NYC May 2017 cohort, and was lucky enough to make it through to the end. I came in with a bit of development experience, but App Academy helped me take it to the next level. To simplify things, I'll boil it down to a few pros/cons that I felt to be true after my three month adventure.
- you will be surrounded by very smart people with impressive and diverse backgrounds
- lots of pair programming (something you can't do alone in the basement)
- a/A wants you to succeed since they're making an investment in you from day one
- streamlined yet intense curriculum that will set you up for a job afterwards
- tuition model means you don't have to pay upfront
- As mentioned by many others, your social life will be nonexistent during the course
- You don't get much freedom in terms of what you do/learn in the main course
- If you're not meeting bare expectations, you'll be asked to leave
- Stress. Lots of stress.
App Academy was the best decision I made and it was such an amazing experience. I graduated college with a Biology degree and was planning to go to physical therapy school, but my grades and GRE scores were not competitive enough, so I felt stuck. I was looking for a career change and that's how I found App Academy.
I strongly suggest learning how to code a bit to see if you like it! I ended up finding it more enjoyable to learn than studying for my GREs. I've never coded before and I had no CS or SWE friends, but I followed my instincts and decided to apply to App Academy.
For the interview process, I checked out the resources provided by App Academy to prepare for the coding challenges and found them helpful for getting a good start. I went through every possible interview round there was.. first it was a timed coding challenge which I passed, but decided to attend their Jumpstart program where you have the chance to be accepted straight into the program if you pass their assessments (Which I highly encourage if you can make it out to SF for two weeks - just email them for more information about it). Unfortunately, I didn't pass Jumpstart, so I returned to SoCal and continued with my interview process. I went through a live coding test, a homework assignment, a timed test, another live coding test, and then finally making it to the behavioral interview before receiving the acceptance email.
- If you are thinking about doing a career shift and have zero coding experience, know that it's possible but you will have to put in a lot of work to learn the material and not fall behind. App Academy will be difficult. They move at a really fast pace and it will be hard to keep up if you fall behind.
- Be prepared to have no life outside of coding for 3 months. Because they're also open on the weekends, I went to a/A every single day during the program. Take advantage of the study area since they have computers, a restroom, and a kitchen! Why go to a coffee shop and struggle to find open seats :) There were nights where I dreamt about code, went to sleep thinking about code, and woke up thinking about code.
- Don't feel down if you see that those around you are doing a lot better than you, a lot of times I realized that those around me have either coded before, taken CS classes, or have prior experience.
- Make sure to study well for the assessments, they are timed so make sure to practice taking them over and over and over again if you don't do well under pressure.
- Staff/TA was great! They split everyone into smaller groups, so there's a good amount of TAs per group. We had weekly circle time where we went around in a circle and talked about our week which I really liked.
- My biggest challenge was to study algorithms, data structures, and mostly CS concepts since I did not have that background, but just study consistently the areas you feel you're weak at and practice. Set up a good routine and schedule for yourself. Resources provided by a/A
- Constantly check in with your coach! Meet up with your cohort mates to study and keep up the momentum to applying for jobs. Support each other.
- Buy yourself a whiteboard to practice writing out problems. Be comfortable talking about yourself and your projects (it's going to get repetitive)
- I wanted to wait until I received a job offer to leave a review... so I am happy to say that after 4 months of job searching, I received an offer from a company I am super excited to work for! Thank you App Academy!
I attended App Academy this past winter, and it was a great program start to finish. Some background on me - I was coming from a software background building ads in Flash. I never had any organized instruction in software, so I pretty much only learned what I dealt with on a day to day basis. After a few years, Flash was almost dead, and I knew I had to get my skillset more in line with the current tech ecosystem.
I enrolled in App Academy, and start to finish it was an awesome experience. They had the right mix of lectures, well-written readings, and actual coding. Every day you'd be paired with a new partner, and then at night you'd have readings and homework to buff up your skills. It was a TON of work, but it was so busy and interesting that it never felt frustrating or overwhelming. It was just a matter of telling all your friends "I can't hang out for a couple months," and then putting the time in. That's a tall order I'm sure, but I think it was worth it. I swear at one point during a break, I felt my brain tingling from all the thinking I had been doing.
Anyway, they taught a wonderful full stack curriculum that left me well prepared for coding challenges and interviews. It took me a while, but my new job is paying me 30,000 more than my previous software job. App Academy is an intense program, but for me it was one of the most personally rewarding decisions I ever made.
I am currently studying at App Academy. I think I have made a great choice.
The Curriculum is great and intense. Every night you will have homework and readings. Each morning you will have lectures and each afternoon you will do pair coding. Most of the time you won't complete the daily project
There will be 6 assessments and at least three large projects during the cohort.
It's not a joke of drinking from the fire hydrant. There is more and more stress every day.
No one is super confident through the whole cohort. or understand everything App Academy teaches you. At some point, you will feel behind. The TAs will tell you it's normal. You should believe it. At least I do.
Do your best to learn everything. Use all your time to work hard on it and believe you could make it through.
By now there are tonnes of reviews for a/A and they are all true. The problem lies in who exactly they are true for. We all come from so many different backgrounds and lifestyles that our experiences can vastly differ from the reviews we read. However, there is one constant among us, the will to learn software development and the hope to get a great job in the industry. While I can't really comment on the second aspect (haven't actually begun job hunting yet), at the end of the day if you want to learn how to quickly and effectively develop software AND have a great time with your cohort mates and TAs, a/A is undoubtedly one of the best places you can choose to attend.
A few caveats that you should pay attention to. You have to eat, sleep and breath code. You have to constantly give more and more of your time and effort as the course progresses. As soon as you think things might start slowing down and you might have room to breath, the course will get more intense. So one of the best advice I can give to any one who gets accepted into a/A: KEEP UP WITH THE WORKLOAD, regardless of your daily schedule. The curriculum is one of the best, believe in it to teach you the skills you need as long as you can do what it tells you to do. On top of that the TAs (atleast in my "pod") are some of the nicest, smartest and the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. Use them.
The job search curriculum seems to slightly drop in quality (Not the lectures on actual job search, those are great, but the organization and content of that part of the overall course). The intensity never drops and you are forced to be more independent in your work, though do note that this is by design. You still learn buttloads of good stuff, especially on how to actually get a job which is what everything led up to. Despite that it feels a bit lacking coming from the main curriculum.
On a final note. There will always be times when you feel in over your head. There will always be times when you doubt your own ability. But if you are willing to ignore those thoughts and keep pushing through with the right mindset, trust me, you will become a software developer. Hopefully I'll remember to update the review once I get a job. Until then, good luck.
AppAcademy - the best place to learn to code, pair-programming and become a software developer.
Great resources and environment - Curriculum is designed day by day and it is clear what to learn and practice every single day throughout the course, and it will lead you to be able to build the full stack application by the week of 10. If you get stuck (especially debugging), you can ask TAs and circle leader for help anytime, and they are experienced, welcoming and awesome to work with!
Workload and assessment pressure - Even though the course ends 6pm, there are a lot of readings and homework everyday. If you can't commit 70 - 90 hours a week, you might feel behind or not ready for the assessment. Failing the assessment twice means having to leave the program, so there are a lot pressures to handle.
I attended May cohort 2017. Prior to the actual program, I attended the 2 weeks program called Jumpstart, that teaches the basics of Ruby language to pass the border of admission. After receiving acceptance, I went through the online a/A preflight materials called Alpha course for about a month. Once the actual course starts, time flies so fast. I gave up a lot of things on weekends for the course, but making apps and solving problems is exciting and I currently enjoy working on the flex project with my awesome classmates.
I could have done this much without a/A.
I entered App Academy in the May 2017 cohort, and it has been a great experience. The courseload is heavy and requires a more than full time commitment. I spent many days past 6 PM, especially during the project days towards the end of the curriculum, but I learned thoroughly all the topics covered.
We covered the fundamentals of programming to creating higher level applications and complete products. The workload was immense at times, but the reward matches the time put in. The instructors are extremely helpful and qualified, and are great people.
App Academy has life changing potential. I think we can all agree on that given that the program offers to make you eligible for Software Developer jobs in the span of three months. There are some caveats though. I'll address the negatives of the program before I delve into why I think it is a fantastic program that everyone should consider.
The a/A lifestyle is not for everyone. Whether you are invited to Jumpstart, or make it through to receiving an offer, it becomes quite apparent that a/A does its best to recruit the best, brightest, and youngest to their program. Completing this program fortified my passion for coding. If you can't picture yourself coding from 9am-6pm (with a lovely 75 minute lunch) and then doing homework until 10 or 11PM every night, then you may want to reconsider. The material itself is not super, super dense, there's just an absolute ton that they shove at you in 8 weeks. In essence, be ready for your lifestyle to be a/A all the time. Myself, and a lot of my cohort mates would take Saturday off and play basketball Sunday mornings - so I want to be transparent when I say that although it consumes your entire life, there are patches of time to catch your breath.
Their contract sounds strict, but when it comes down to it they really want to help you find a job. If they had any loop holes they'd be exposed and taken advantage of. You can't offer someone a free curriculum without being sure that they will do everything they can to go out and get that job upon completion. Again, you have to be ready to work and that is even truer during the job search curriculum. It's also worth mentioning, because people read too many marketing materials and get a ridiculous thought in their heads, that they will make 100k in 12 weeks. There are probably 2-5 people in our graduating cohort (out of 70) that could obtain that. The majority of graduates take 90 days to find a job so take that into account as you're doing your preparation.
A few parts of my a/A experience that I am forever grateful for are the relationships that you make and the material that you learn. It's actually pretty easy to show up to a place that day in and day out keeps trying throw more and more work on top of you. The biggest reason is because you develop extremely close relationships with a lot of people as you tackle trial and tribulations together. In the end, you enter the job market with a network of 1000+ a/A grads that know everything you went through. Don't underestimate the people in your cohort. A lot of us all came in with the same mentality of buckling down and getting the job. Like actual software development, you need to rely on your team in order to achieve.
Every day is long and tiring. Every day will waver your self-confidence and raise your level of impostor syndrome to unprecedented heights. But every day is also extremely riveting and fulfilling. You will do and create things you wouldn't imagine. You find a way to get it done, and then you do it. That's engineering. That's innovation.
Any questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I was once in your shoes but somehow after twelve weeks of telling myself to take it one day at a time, I finally emerged as a software developer - and know that you can too.
App Academy is one of the most difficult programs I have ever attended. Not only does app academy tell you all the fundamentals to succeed in the tech industry, it also teaches you how to learn a lot in a quick amount of time. If you do get in, you not will not much time to do anything else besides program for the next 3 months. It is one hell of a journey. There could be a lot of improvements to app academy's infrastructure, but what made my experience amazing was the people. You will meet tons of individuals with different backgrounds and places in life, but what makes you guys similar is how hardworking everyone is. There is lots of learn in a/A both interpersonal interactions in pair programming and software engineering knowledge. It is not for everyone, Best of luck if you do attend!
I attended App Academy in May 2017. It is a 13 week course that trains you to become a web developer through their rigorous program. I came into the program knowing little to no coding. I attended jumpstart before hand which was a free prep course that trained students for the interview process. The overall process was a positive one. From week 1-9, the curriculum is a lot to take in. Prepare for a lot of long days and nights especially if you are new to coding. The amount of knowledge that you need to take in can seem crazy at times, but if you put in the time and effort, the experience is rewarding. It would've been hard for me to believe if someone told me that I could make a website at the end of nine weeks. But it is totally doable, and if you want to get into programming, I don't know a better place than App Academy.
App Academy has been great so far in terms of having a structured environment for learning and partially teaching yourself to code. TAs provide assistance along this journey as well as classmates. It's a lot of work and can be stressful at times but other classmates and TAs provide a great support system. Material taught in the curriculum is good as it's adapted to the current trends in the industry. It's very intensive but if you have the determination, you get through the course and attain the end goal of starting a new career in tech.
App Academy gives you the tools needed to change your life. The first thing to get out of the way is that the course is not easy. The 80-100 hours a week that they estimate you will spend on the course is not an exaggeration. You can easily expect to spend 9am-10pm 7 days a week at App Academy, but it is worth it in the end. The course takes so much time out of your life because they want to give you everything that will make you successful in the world of software development after graduation. They not only give you the coding tools, but they also spend copious amounts of time teaching you how to succeed in the interview stage and really show your self off!
I chose App Academy over other available boot camps, including Hack Reactor, for two primary reasons.
The Job Placement program and tuition plan create a strong alignment with student interests. I came from working in small business finance, and one of the design choices we worked to popularize is royalty based financing, where the payback to investors is based on business performance. The same is true at App Academy where you pay tuition based on your first year's salary. This gives App Academy a strong and clear incentive to prepare you for the current job market in software development.
I also picked a/A because of their Jump Start program, a two week evening class in Ruby. I took the course in San Francisco. It uses test driven problem solving and Repl.it to make picking up Ruby a straightforward and pleasant exercise. I had such a good time learning Ruby this way, that I decided to take the full course.
tldr; I learned a ton, and I did get a great job, but not in San Francisco.
I was in the November 2016 cohort at App Academy. I was very motivated, and did a lot of self-study before I arrived. In fact, my situation was a bit unique because I had intended to join an earlier cohort, but then had to drop out after just a couple of days due to having a broken finger. That false start may have given me a false sense of security, because I had a good idea of what the first week or two would be like.
I knew that we would cover a lot of material quickly, and I was very excited to accelerate my learning. The first half of the curriculum focuses on Ruby, data structures, SQL and Rails. In my opinion that section of the curriuclum is pretty polished. Concepts were presented clearly and the work was challenging, but mostly doable. However, the idea that you might need to put in 80hrs + per week was no joke. The more time you put in, the more you get out of this course.
Then comes a section of the curriculum where you build some projects. These were really fun ideas, but unfortunately seemed a bit too rushed. Now that I am working as a professional software developer, though, I also appreciate the pace that we were pushed at, since that was good practice for a genuine job.
During the job search, I learned that some students paid a slightly lower upfront fixed fee rather than a percentage of their first year salary. In retrospect that would have been a good option for me, since I was not 100% determined to end up in San Francisco. Yes S.F. is a great town to live and work in if you are a software engineer or developer, but the competition for entry-level positions is pretty intense there. I had much better luck looking for work outside of San Francisco.
After I started getting offers in another city, staff from App Academy still helped coach me on how best to negotiate with my new employer. They showed genuine concern for my career outcome, and that is why I give them 4 stars for job-search assistance. They don't really help you find a job, though. Instead, they just help you get ready to go find one yourself.
All in all it was a great learning experience. I met amazing, talented, and motivated people who inspired me and helped me successfully transition my career. I am pretty happy with the outcome of my App Academy experience.
When I told my parents I was interested in pursuing software development, that I found a good program that boast awesome stats, they (and everyone else I knew) was pretty skeptical. To be honest, even I was skeptical. But, I took a leap of faith and am so glad I did.
App Academy is a boot camp (seriously). You'll average 60-80+ hours a week grinding through problems and concepts. You will have little to no social life. You will dream (okay, have nightmares) about code.
In exchange, you will become a better critical thinker and problem solver than you ever thought possible. You'll become acquainted with very exceptional people, and your mind will be blown away by people's genius. At the end of the long and challenging road, you'll walk away with a six figure salary, and will get paid to just solve puzzles all day.
All in all, App Academy was the single best decision I've made for myself as a full-fledge adult.
The deferred payment model is unparalleled, and it baffles me that other bootcamps have still not caught on. It really helps you feel/understand that they are on your side to get you a job! A high-paying job at that! I just got hired, actually, by a company I really enjoy with an offer I really loved!
Great environment, great people, a ton to feel proud of, great results! What more could you ask for?
I started the BootCamp Prep Course after debating whether to apply straight to App Academy or not. It was definitely the best decision ever. The course really shapes your coding skills (especially when you have only a basic coding knowledge like me) and allows you to be ready for any Coding Boot Camp interview you might want to take when taking it seriously.
Boot Camp Prep is really challenging and the tools and 'tips' provided by the instructors are really valuable. I haven't regretted it for a second!
Our latest on App Academy
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Need an overview of coding bootcamp news in May? You’re in the right place! We’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. This month, we read about a number of insightful surveys about employers, programming languages, and learners. We read advice about choosing a bootcamp, learned about efforts to encourage women and veterans to learn to code, and heard about student experiences at bootcamp. Plus, we added a bunch of interesting new schools to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the January 2017 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we applaud initiatives that bring technology to underserved communities, we look at employment trends, and new coding schools and campuses. Plus, we hear a funny story about an honest taxi driver. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Many competitive coding bootcamps require a certain level of coding knowledge or background in order to be accepted into their programs- whether they’re looking for past experience on your resume or require that you pass a coding challenge. For a beginner, it can be tough to get the experience that a selective bootcamp looks for in the application process. 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.Continue Reading →
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,451, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
Getting into an elite coding bootcamp is hard. You take a bunch of coding tests and technical interviews and it’s easy to get stressed out during the process. Top coding schools are also extremely selective. App Academy (where I'm an instructor) has an acceptance rate of 3% - that’s lower than Harvard.Continue Reading →
We explore the differences and similarities between App Academy and Flatiron School, two of the best coding bootcamps in the US. What type of student is each bootcamp best for? What's the culture like at each school? How does job placement compare? All of these questions answered and more!Continue Reading →
Thinking about applying to App Academy? With locations in San Francisco and New York, and their well-known option of deferred payment (until you get a job), App Academy is a great option for future bootcampers. But the App Academy acceptance rate is less than 5%- so applicants need to ace the coding challenges to be admitted. We're covering the App Academy interview and application process with input from our Q&As with App Academy alumni and founder, Kush Patel.
App Academy's Advice:
From founder Kush Patel:
"We are cool with complete beginners, and have seen complete beginners be extremely successful in the course, and go on to work for fantastic companies and make crazy salaries. Our application process is customized to the applicant. If someone comes to us with no experience, we’ll assign them some introductory exercises and give them a coding test that would be appropriate for them. We do multiple coding tests and interviews to really get a sense of the applicant." -Kush Patel, Founder
What to Expect during the App Academy Interview:
From their website:
The application process consists of a few steps. We try to customize the process for every candidate, but broadly it looks as follows:
- You submit an application.
- Within two days, we mail you a coding exercise (with resources to prepare).
- You complete the coding exercise when you're ready.
- You may be asked to complete a second coding exercise.
- We interview you.
- Within two days, we make a decision.
The most important parts of our process are the coding exercises and a live coding exercise we do together during the interview. We accept a very high percentage of applicants who do well on these exercises. For applicants who are new to programming, we provide materials to bring them up to speed and teach them what they need to know to complete our exercises.
The technical interview consists of one guaranteed coding challenge and a second coding test if App Academy decides you're ready to move forward. "After filling out the application, I received an invitation for a coding assessment. They sent me a second assessment shortly after I completed the first one, followed by a 15-question problem set. I spent about 20 hours on those exercises. I then had two live coding exercises." says Sarah Michaelson, an App Academy Alum.
"There were a couple of coding challenges which they provided prep material to study for." -TJ, alumni
Remember that in a code school interview, you should be asking a ton of questions too! Here are 10 questions we suggest asking in a coding bootcamp interview.
"The second [coding challenge] included a mini-interview with Kush, the founder of App Academy." -Sarah
"After the coding challenges I went on to interview with one of the cofounders and had a final live coding challenge. We did all of that over Skype." -TJ
How to Prepare for App Academy Interviews:
The App Academy Coding Challenge should be no mystery to applicants, because App Academy publishes all of their Coding Challenges and Prep Work on Github! The more prep work you can complete before starting the application, the better (it's unclear if rejected applicants can re-apply, but as a precaution, you should not expect a second chance). Start Here:
From App Academy students:
"After I applied, App Academy sent me a list of resources to help me prepare for the first coding challenge. They suggested Codecademy and Ruby Monk, but I also searched for beginning Ruby tutorials. There’s a lot of good material out there." -Sarah, Alum
"I was used to the concepts already because I had been teaching myself. I studied to program video games at DigiPen so when I dropped out, I continued coding for fun. I made lots of very simple games like Bejeweled and little shoot-em-ups." -TJ, Alum
- According to Sarah, an App Academy alum, the entire application process, from start-to-acceptance, took about 2 months.
- App Academy says that you'll have a decision within 2 days of the final interview, but this seems to vary.
- Coding Challenges are timed- you have up to 45 minutes to complete these.
This Wednesday, our friends at LiquidTalent hosted a spectacular panel of women who discussed their experience at New York coding bootcamps and transitioning into their first jobs. Course Report was lucky to moderate the panel- here are 12 things we learned from this rockstar panel of lady developers!Continue Reading →
While programming bootcamps can offer a high return on investment, the average tuition at code school is ~$11,400, which is no small sacrifice. A number of not-for-profit and well-organized programs offer free coding bootcamps. Some of these bootcamps are funded by job placement and referral fees; others are fueled by community support and volunteers. Expect rigorous application processes and competitively low acceptance rates, but for the right applicants, there is so much to gain at these free coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
App Academy graduate Sarah Michaelson had a degree in Pre-Medical Nutrition Science before realizing that coding was in her future. After completing the 3-month bootcamp, Sarah got a job at Amplify through the alumni network, and talks to Course Report about challenging herself at App Academy, using their job prep and placement services, and settling into her Dev-Ops position at Amplify.
Tell us what you up to before you joined App Academy?
Before I started App Academy, I was working in marketing promotions - everything from serving beer at motorcycle races to costume acting at children’s events to demoing kitchen appliances at department stores. I also have a BS in Pre-Medical Nutrition Science from Purdue University, and I worked as a weight loss consultant for a little over a year.
Did you take any computer science classes during your undergrad?
I took one CS class as a graduation requirement. We learned a little bit of computer history and HTML.
When did you start thinking about web development as a career?
My two physicist roommates started looking for jobs as data scientists. They’d talk for hours on end about algorithms and natural language processing. I thought it was really cool and I wanted to participate, but I just didn’t know where to begin. I was irrationally intimidated by it.
How did you come across App Academy?
My roommates knew I wanted to learn to code, so one of them sent me a link to App Academy. I thought I couldn’t do it, but I saved the link to my Evernote account. Three or four months later, an ad popped up on my Facebook feed, I decided I was ready to give it a shot.
Did you use online resources or read books to prepare?
After I applied, App Academy sent me a list of resources to help me prepare for the first coding challenge. They suggested Codecademy and Ruby Monk, but I also searched for beginning Ruby tutorials. There’s a lot of good material out there.
Did you look at other bootcamps or did you only apply to App Academy?
I looked at other bootcamps, but I App Academy was my first choice because of their business model. I even said that to Kush (the founder of App Academy) during my final interview.
What was the App Academy application process like for you?
My application process was pretty long, but I think it’s different for everyone. After filling out the application, I received an invitation for a coding assessment. They sent me a second assessment shortly after I completed the first one, followed by a 15-question problem set. I spent about 20 hours on those exercises. I then had two live coding exercises. The second one included a mini-interview with Kush, the founder of App Academy. From start to finish, it took almost two months.
How many people were in your cohort?
There were 22 people when we started. One person dropped out on the first day, but everyone else finished the program.
Did you feel like it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender and race?
There were two women in the class so in terms of gender it wasn’t diverse. I was 29 and I was the oldest person in the cohort. Other cohorts had people in their 30’s, some people had kids.
There were different racial backgrounds and some international students. Overall, it wasn’t representative of the population at large, but I don’t think anyone ever felt excluded or uncomfortable or unwelcome.
Was there some overlap between different cohorts?
There was a 3-week overlap. The last 3 weeks of the program are dedicated to getting us hired. My cohort started during the previous cohort’s hiring phase.
Did your cohort start with pretty similar skill levels and technical backgrounds?
I feel like most people in my cohort had little or no technical background like myself. Before starting the class, we all did the completed tutorials, we all had the same “pre-flight assignment,” which gave us the same foundation.
How many instructors did you have for your cohort?
Jonathan, the lead instructor, was nurturing as a mentor, passionate about teaching, and cared very much about each and every one of us. We also had two TAs - Sid and Tommy. They were former students, and since they had been in our position not too long ago, they could relate to us really well. They pointed us in the right direction without just handing us the answers, which was great. I don't know if they still do this, but at the time, it was common for a/A to hire former students as TAs.
What did a typical App Academy day look like for you?
The night before class, we had a reading assignment to prep us for the next day’s project. In the morning, you’d be randomly assigned to a workstation with another student and spend the day pair programming and figuring out how to accomplish the tasks outlined in the project. If you got blocked or stuck, you would call one of the TAs or Jonathan over to help. We had brief lectures daily, but never more than an hour; this program was very hands-on. After class officially ended, we sometimes would stay to tie up loose ends on the project. At night, we’d do our reading assignments, and start the whole process over again.
Were the projects always assigned or did you get to create your own projects?
The first 7 or 8 weeks was assigned projects, but we did have a capstone project where we pitched our ideas. The goal was to clone another website, like Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter.
Can you tell us about your capstone project? What did you build?
I made a clone of My Fitness Pal. It was a Rails app with some CSS and HTML for the styling. I pulled the real USDA food database which has over 10,000 very poorly formatted entries, so I had to write a script to parse the data. I spent a lot of time on the back-end work.
Did you have assessments or exams during the course?
We had weekly assessments on everything covered during the previous week. App Academy would write specs and you had to write code to make the test pass. Test-driven development is a common practice at a lot of companies, so the exam format was a good simulation of what you might experience while working.
How many hours would you say you spent on App Academy?
Class was 9am to 6pm and we had daily reading assignments. There were plenty of times where I kept working till 7 or 8 then I would wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning to do the readings, so I guess I spent about 12 hours per day coding or studying on weekdays.
Is there anything you would change about App Academy??
I wish I had learned about the typical workflow for a company. “Agile” and “Scrum” and “Standup” are buzzwords in the industry and I didn’t learn about any of that at the time, so it was a little bit of a disadvantage when I was talking to recruiters.
Did your class do a lot of job prep like practice interviews or resume building?
After we finished our Capstone projects, we went through a 3-week hiring bootcamp. We received a lot of coaching about lectures about how to land an interview, what to put on your resume, and what you’re worth. We also had a hiring day to showcase our capstone projects. From the technical side, I never met a technical interview that I felt like I couldn’t handle because we did so many white board exercises. I felt really prepared.
Did App Academy support alumni in their job search?
Yes, we had a job tracker which contained a list of thousands of tech companies in both the New York and San Francisco Bay area. Alums who were hired by those companies often became points of contact for new grads.
Does App Academy have employer partnerships or a hiring network?
App Academy has informal relationships with many companies who want to continue hiring App Academy grads. It’s like having a degree from Harvard - people recognize the name and they want you to work for them.
Where are you working now?
I’m a DevOps engineer at Amplify. We handle tasks related to deployment, spinning up environments, automated testing, and continuous integration. The team I’m on is called Developer Services, and we build tools to make the lives of developers easier.
How did you get that position at Amplify?
Networking is so important. One of the alums who works at Amplify picked up my resume, and that’s how I landed an interview. After accepting their job offer, I worked as a Software Engineer in Test (which is a QA-like role) for about 8 months before moving to the DevOps team.
How long did it take you to get hired?
It was really fast - I finished the program at the end of March and signed my agreement in mid-April.
Do you feel like you have the support at Amplify to help you ramp up and keep growing?
Oh, absolutely. They’re incredibly supportive and flexible. Pair programming is really important at Amplify, so I have a lot of opportunities to pair with talented senior engineers. I also have a lot of autonomy. That’s how I moved from the developer track to the Ops team - I was tracking a bug, and I fell down the rabbit hole into our Continuous Integration process. My tech leads were supportive and allowed me the freedom to explore it.
How have you stayed involved in the community?
I’ve been going to the App Academy hiring days for both recruiting and networking with my old cohort. I also volunteered at CodeMontage and RailsBridge, two organizations that aim to introduce women and minority groups to Rails. I just wrote my first proposal to speak at a conference, but I haven’t heard back from them yet, so I don’t know if my talk has been accepted or not.
Is there anything you’d like to add about App Academy or your experience in general?
App Academy was a great decision, perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re dissatisfied with your current position, scared or uncertain about your future. Going to bootcamp not only developed my technical skills, but it gave me confidence, which is exactly what I needed to be successful. If you’re hesitant or skeptical, that’s good! But you should go for it anyway. You’re worth it.
While TJ Hawbaker wasn’t a fan of the college experience (he dropped out of two undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering and computer science), he knew he loved making games and programming. After travelling the United States and doing his research on coding bootcamps, TJ was impressed with App Academy’s unique deferred payment option. TJ met his current employer at App Academy’s Demo Day and now loves his job as a software engineer at social media news aggregator Banjo. We chat about the appeal of App Academy’s payment structure, the positive pressure of weekly assessments, and how he’s ramped up at his new job.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at App Academy.
I dropped out of school twice, each time after just one semester. I studied Nuclear Engineering at University of Tennessee and Computer Science at a small school called DigiPen in Seattle, then I spent three years traveling around the United States.
I was teaching myself programming but didn’t know how to make the jump from hobbyist to a career and that’s why I sought out App Academy.
After you dropped out of college and were travelling, were you teaching yourself to code were you using Codecademy or other online platforms?
I’m definitely the exception relative to others that went to App Academy. Most people have very little coding experience. I was used to the concepts already because I had been teaching myself. I studied to program video games at DigiPen so when I dropped out, I continued coding for fun.. I made lots of very simple games like Bejeweled and little shoot-em-ups.
When did you decide to do a coding bootcamp?
I decided a full year before attending. I realized that I really wanted to code for a career and I saw App Academy as a perfect opportunity for me. I’m not the kind of student who wants to sit in a classroom listening to lectures all day. At these bootcamps, you’re learning something new every single day that you’re actually putting to use.
Was your goal to get a job as a developer once you finished App Academy?
That was definitely my goal at the time. Ultimately, I wanted to get some professional experience under my belt, but in the near future, I want to be working as a cofounder.
Why did you choose App Academy? Did you look at other bootcamps?
I looked into Dev Bootcamp and Hack Reactor. They seemed to all have good track records, but I only applied to App Academy. A lot of it came down to the payment structure. App Academy is the only bootcamp that students can attend for free, because the school only gets paid if the student finds a job.
That made a big impact on me, first because I didn't have money to pay for an expensive bootcamp, but also because, I felt like if these guys wanted to get paid, they would have to get me prepared.
What was the application process like for you? Did you have to do a technical interview?
It started out as a simple application process; I sent in my resume and told them why I should be admitted to the school, then there were a couple of coding challenges which they provided prep material to study for.
After those coding challenges I went on to interview with one of the cofounders and had a final live coding challenge. We did all of that over Skype.
The tuition structure at App Academy is unique, and you chose the tuition deferment option- what was the agreement?
The job that you accept after App academy is your choice completely. You can get multiple offers and accept the one best for you. The payment structure for App Academy is that they take a percentage of your first annual salary. There are tons of companies out here that are hiring engineers so I think it’s more important to find a cultural fit than to choose the highest starting salary or accept the first job offer you get.
How many people were in your cohort?
I believe that we had about 45 of us. The size of the cohorts varies. From my understanding after speaking with some of the cofounders, App Academy accepts as many people as they feel are qualified for the class.
Was there enough space and instructors for 45 people?
Yeah, there was definitely enough space. They have a very good system where they hire TAs from the class that just graduated. These are people that just finished the class and know the material – usually some of the most talented people in the class. There was always someone available if you had questions!
How many head instructors did you have that weren’t TAs?
I had two head instructors. One of the cofounders, Ned, and CJ, who has been the head TA for two years now. They were both fantastic teachers and truly smart guys.
What did a typical day at App Academy look like?
A typical day usually started with a lecture on some of the more complex subjects. Sometimes they would run up to one hour but generally they were pretty short- 20 minutes or so.
Then we would start pair programming, where we would work on a project or set of problems for the whole day with a partner.
Were you assigned those projects?
That’s right. It was at least 90% hands-on training every single day. We were learning so much so quickly. We had to study for the material that night, so everyone came to the class prepared each day.
Was everybody in your cohort on a similar technical level? If not, did it even out over time?
Everyone starts App Academy with different expertise. You’re going to be pairing with people who know more than you about certain things or less than you about others, but you can learn from both experiences. If you don’t quite understand the concepts, having someone work through them with you is essential. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t understand a concept, you get to teach them and it reinforces those concepts in your own head.
Did you feel it was a diverse cohort in terms of age and gender and race?
Our cohort was diverse in terms of race and age, but less so in terms of gender. I think we had 6 women.
I think App Academy is very selective in the type of people that apply so that factors into the cohort makeup more than anything. All of my classmates who were able to go through the program successfully were all highly driven, highly motivated people, who were willing to take risks. I think that is the single most determining factor of who was actually in my class.
How many people graduated with you of the 45 who started? Did a lot of people drop out?
I want to say there were 4 or 5 people that didn’t complete the program. App Academy has a 10 – 15% attrition rate every cohort; and I think it’s for a good reason. It’s such a fast-paced environment, you can’t afford to be pairing with people who aren’t as motivated to keep up with the rest of the class.
Did you have exams or assessments?
Yes, we had an assessment every week. If you failed two of these assessments, you would be out of the program.
Was that a lot of pressure?
It was! It was a good pressure. It kept us motivated throughout the whole program. Every day you’re learning something brand new that is completely different than the day before – and the assessments kept you on track.
Were you tested on material from that week or tested cumulatively?
Each test was on material from just that week. Usually the assessments were on Monday mornings so you had the whole weekend to do some practice tests, reinforce the ideas in your head. You would be fine as long as you paid attention and studied the material. It sounds scary that you can get kicked out, but they actually made it very reasonable.
How many hours a week were you spending on App Academy in total?
It was pretty much all of my time. I moved in from out of town and I was living with a bunch of other people that were also going through the program.
Even though the classroom hours were 9 to 6, when I got done with class I was just coding more with people who were also in the class. I’d say at least 14 hours a day, 5+ days a week.
Aside from the teaching style and the environment, were you satisfied with the curriculum and the actual material that you were taught in the class?
Honestly, I feel like App Academy gave a very good overview of web development. You may be learning Ruby on Rails for two weeks in the program, but it’s not really about learning how to use that framework. It’s more about learning how to learn any framework.
They teach students how to teach themselves. In this industry, that is certainly a key to success. Since leaving App Academy I’ve picked up a few other languages and a ton of different frameworks; it’s a nonstop learning process.
Are there things that you didn’t expect or that you wanted to change about the experience? Were you able to give App Academy feedback?
Every student has access to the curriculum and could make suggestions and offer ways to change it. That’s how the curriculum has grown to be what it is today.
Was the curriculum changing as you were going through the class?
Yeah. Each cohort they’ve iterated on the curriculum to see what works and what doesn’t. The curriculum has changed since I went through it but it’s definitely moving in an even better direction than when I was there.
Besides pairing with individuals on assigned projects, did you also do a capstone project?
Yeah. We spent 7 weeks pair programming, then we had two weeks or so where we built projects from scratch.
Can you tell us about your final project?
Mine was like the game of Telephone but using drawing instead of whispering. A user would draw a picture, then the next user would have to describe that picture with words. The next user would have to draw that description without any context of the original drawing. This would continue for 10 - 15 users. It lead to some pretty hilarious chains!
What technologies did it use?
It used things we learned in class: Ruby on Rails for the back-end and Backbone for the front-end framework.
When did App Academy start prepping you for interviews and resume building?
That happened after week 9. Once we’d finished final projects, there was about three weeks of nonstop prep work. Every day you were updating your resume, creating your personal website, and fixing up projects to show employers. We also had daily algorithm lectures and practiced whiteboarding problems.
What are you up to now? Did you get a new job?
I’m working as a software engineer at a company called Banjo, which captures and organizes all the public social media data in the world that we can get our hands on. We do this in real time and by geo-location, so users find out about events as they happen all over the world. I love what I do.
How large is the team that you work with?
Our engineering department right now is about 20 engineers
Did you feel supported at your new company when you started at Banjo?
I wouldn’t say there was any hand-holding by any means, but there were senior team members who I could turn to if I had any questions.. The whole industry in general is very cooperative and because of that it’s very easy to grow once you start a job.
Did you get the job through your own networking or through App Academy?
App Academy does a demo day where employers come and check out your projects. I knew that because my resume was sparse, I would have to wow employers with my final project.
At Demo Day, the Banjo team loved my project, wanted me to come in for an interview and I eventually got a job.
How long did it take you to actually get hired after you graduated?
For me it was about 5 weeks. Compared to the industry that’s pretty good. But there were people in my class who got hired within a couple of weeks. There were also people who struggled a bit and didn’t get hired for a couple of months but eventually found a job that they really enjoyed.
What is App Academy’s approach to alumni support? Are they tracking your job search?
Simon, the COO, helps people find placement. Because App Academy is very selective in the sense that the only people who apply there are highly motivated, generally those kinds of people don’t have trouble getting jobs. Every once in a while people can struggle and that’s where Simon comes in. He’ll help you set up interviews or he’ll bring people in to interview.
What types of people do you recommend App Academy for?
I would say App Academy is for people who don’t like the traditional schooling system. It’s more like a trade school. You should be motivated to learn about something that you actually want to use.
App Academy gave me the opportunity to work in an industry that I love, doing awesome stuff every day, which is an opportunity that I would never have had otherwise.
If you're thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp in New York, then you must attend this paneled discussion with top coding schools! Join Course Report and Launch LM in the Hive at 55 downtown space for an evening with alumni from 8 bootcamps.
RSVP here to claim your spot- space is limited!Continue Reading →
If you're thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp in New York, then you must attend this paneled discussion with top coding schools! Join Course Report and Launch LM in the Hive at 55 downtown space for an evening with alumni from 8 bootcamps.
RSVP here to claim your spot- space is limited!Continue Reading →
After teaching himself to code through online resources and attending App Academy in San Francisco, Erik Trautman created The Odin Project, an online, open-source education program that teaches aspiring web developers to code and become job-ready. We talk to Erik about his views on education and technology, tactics to build online communities around education, and why The Odin Project can be the answer for students who aren't in a position to attend an in-person bootcamp.
Tell us your story and how you got involved in the learn-to-code movement.
I actually spent 5 years in finance. I was a West Coast Power and Gas market analyst and trader working for various banks, energy companies and hedge funds. It’s an incredibly interesting and intellectual career, but, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really a fulfilling career.
I'm ultimately driven by the desire to make an impact -- when I’m shriveled and done in my lifetime, I want to look back and say that I had a very strong, positive impact on the world around me. Thus I’ve always wanted to build a business or at least create something that was adding value in a more permanent way. So about 2 years ago I decided to move on and learn how to code. I wanted to get into tech because I think that it provides the highest degree of leverage in order to create impact and change.
Education too has a major impact and one that reverberates through generations – teach one person and you've potentially taught thousands of people down the line. When you combine education and technology, you have this incredibly interesting chance to provide a high-potential impact to a lot of people. That’s really cool to me.
I initially learned how to code mostly through online sources. I picked up a book and started pinging through all kinds of different online resources. I went through a Udemy course, “Become a Web Developer from Scratch.” It was one of the most successful courses on Udemy; kudos to them but I really didn’t like it. I thought it barely covered the surface of the material, the production value was terrible, the whole learning experience was just poor. Even though it was probably one of the best online courses out there at the time, is just gave me this thought that online education could be so much better.
So then how did you continue your education offline?
I started App Academy in 2013. I had been taking a lot of these courses online and, like many people, I didn’t feel like I had a clear path. I felt like I was learning a lot of things but none of them were bringing me necessarily closer to the ultimate goal of being a real web developer. I could take a course on Coursera and spend 200 hours working on the course material but, if I laid it all out on a timeline, I didn’t actually feel like I was 200 hours closer to being an effective web developer.
That search for a strong path was probably the main reason why I decided to go to a bootcamp in the first place. I had a really good experience with the program at App Academy. I was particularly fond of their tuition model, where you don’t pay until you get a job. That accountability for outcomes is something that’s really missing from education in general.
Since I had such a positive experience in the program, I worked there during the next cohort to help them grow the business. During that time I did a lot of admissions work -- I read at least a thousand applications and interviewed more than a hundred prospective students. I saw a lot of people out there who were looking for these kinds of solutions but for whom traditional bootcamps are actually not the appropriate solution; whether it’s monetary, time-commitment, life cycle… there are so many reasons why a bootcamp may not be appropriate.
So that’s how I turned to The Odin Project. I left App Academy and started the project with the mission of providing a free and open resource that gave people a clear path and lifted the curtain on being a web developer.
Tell us about The Odin Project and it’s goals.
I think that there are three major pillars in education: You need a path forward, you need access to help and you also would ideally like to interact with people around you. In-person education traditionally tends to provide these things well. Online education has tended to serve them very poorly.
The path forward for me was always the strongest because you have to know where you’re going before you even start, otherwise you’re just floundering around. So the number one goal was to create a curriculum.
The second most important for me is very much about the social aspect; giving people the opportunity to learn socially because it’s incredibly lonely to be learning this stuff if you’re staring at a computer screen. You could spend two days working through a bug that would take you 10 minutes to get past if you worked with someone else.
Once you have that community then you can start working on connecting them to make learning more of a social experience. That’s been the growing arc of the project as we go forward.
How do your students communicate with each other and operate as a community?
We have two types of students right now.
First off, we have a number of students who have gone through the curriculum and expressed an interest in building real projects and working on something together. I had an epiphany in December 2013 and asked a group of them if they wanted to work on the Odin project since it was, in fact, a "real" open source project. When they agreed, it began a cycle where these students were actually building the project they simultaneously used to learn.
We began by running weekly SCRUM meetings which have become daily SCRUMs. We have teams of students using agile methodologies to build the project that they’re using to learn. And that’s a great community. You have people who have just stuck with it for 6 or 8 months now. Maybe they’re not even using the Project anymore but they stick around as a part of the community; they’ll come to the SCRUM meetings and hang out and talk with their friends.
The other big community elements are the study groups. Another group of Odin Project students early this year said they wouldn’t be able to get through it without other people. I was still focusing on the curriculum during this time and just didn’t have the bandwidth to handle it so I gave them a corner of the website and told them if they wanted to lead their own study groups, they could as long as they coordinated the groups themselves.
So those are the two main community elements we have right now. Obviously building a community takes a lot of time, but we’ve started seeing it more and more since the project's launch.
How many people are in The Odin Project network?
I just published the last three courses about a month ago and we’ve got about 4,000 users right now. We’ve had about 200 pull requests from users on the curriculum submitting solutions and bug fixes and things like that. The community of people who have made meaningful contributions to the project is in the dozens. They're all listed on the Contributing page.
What kinds of struggles have you faced in starting The Odin Project?
We’ve learned a whole lot along the way in terms of how people consume content online, how you organize people online, how you teach people online and how you use industry methodologies and attach them to groups of learners. We’re working with people who are beginners, who are remote, who are part-time, and who are volunteers. You could not ask for a worse batch of factors but we’re able to wrangle that together into a process that actually works. That’s pretty cool.
You’ve chosen to keep The Odin Project free. Will it always be free?
Originally, the idea of the project was to monetize it through a premium services model -- if you’re interested in mentorship, we would give you access to mentorship, although something more affordable like a peer mentorship. At this point, my direction has definitely shifted a little bit, and I don’t really see The Project monetizing directly. It may be able to generate some leads to other projects or other helpful things that can be sustaining for it.
What are the expected outcomes for someone who has completed The Odin Project? Do you expect that somebody could get a job or get a promotion at work?
The project covers the entire gamut from zero to job. If you go through the entire project, then you should be job-ready. The very last course of the project is entirely based on how you can get hired as a web developer.
The whole point of this was to provide the entire spectrum, where everyone else had only focused on a little piece of it – which is why it took almost a year to actually build out the curriculum. The strongest and most difficult outcome is to go from zero to actually being hireable as a junior developer. If your goal is just to build websites, you don’t necessarily need to dive as deep into everything; you don’t need to cover the whole 1000+ hours of content that we have, but it's there if you need it.
Do you track those outcomes?
Not quantitatively. I keep in touch with the people who are going through the project and who take leadership roles or participate in the SCRUMs or study groups but the full curriculum hasn’t actually been available for long enough for people to finish it yet.
Do students create their own projects to build their portfolio?
Actually, the whole bent of the curriculum is to be project-based so there’s a project every lesson or two. They’re designed to be projects that are legitimate and immediate, not just scaffolded toys but real things.
Then at the end of the major courses, we have capstone projects. So at the end of the Rails course, your capstone project is to build Facebook. At the end of the whole course, your capstone project is much more of a free thing that says you should be able to demonstrate these skills and if you do so, that’ll help you if you’re ultimately looking for a job. The portfolio is more important than the credential in web development, or at least the balance is significantly shifted. We focus more on the portfolio because we can’t really offer a credential and seeking one might not be the best use of student resources.
Can you tell us about the Coding School Alumni site? What’s the motivation behind that?
The bootcamps themselves have strong identities about who they are and what they’re teaching, but ultimately when it comes down to it, they’re all teaching a very similar set of people. The students are all highly-motivated, geeky people from a really diverse and interesting set of backgrounds who are focused on technical things.
So that was the idea of setting up this group- I should be able to know the 17 people who are in my bootcamp cohort plus the 200 people who are in other bootcamps alongside me. You couldn’t possibly ask for a better group of people. Also, we’re acknowledging that there are challenges that occur after you’ve left the bootcamps. We’re all still suffering from “imposter syndrome.” None of us went through CS programs; and there’s a set of common challenges that don’t stop after Week 12. As one voice we can help each other a lot in terms of resources and learning and even, if necessary, as a strong group of people who can affect change needed in the industry itself down the road.
Other than students who are contributing to the open source project, do you have full-time employees helping you with The Odin Project?
No. It’s a group of part-time volunteers.
Any plans to do something in person?
The in-person model has never really been as interesting to me as the online model. Online education has so much more room for improvement and so much more opportunity for scale. It’s too cool to give up!
Thanks so much to Erik for chatting with us about his experience at App Academy, The Odin Project, and more!
You’ve decided that you’re ready to learn to code, and you can already see your career options swelling. But wait—how will you decide which coding school is right for you?
There are more than 65 coding “boot camps” in the U.S. alone, each boasting different tuition models, language specialties, and teaching styles. So, before you ceremoniously quit your job to be the next Zuck, ask yourself these six questions to guide your research... continue reading.Continue Reading →
Kush Patel graduated from the first cohort at Dev Bootcamp and saw some room for improvement, so he created App Academy in 2012 with Ned Ruggeri, a former Google engineer and fellow University of Chicago alum.
We talk to Kush about App Academy’s application process and why they charge students tuition only after they get a job that they want to accept.
What is your story and how did you end up in the Coding Bootcamp space? Do you have a background in education?
I graduated from the University of Chicago and went to work at a hedge fund in Bombay. I really enjoyed that, but I was looking for a change, so I decided to come back to San Francisco to get involved in the startup scene. I attended the first class at Dev Bootcamp, and I really enjoyed the experience, but also saw a few places where changes could be made. To be fair to them, it was their first class, and they’ve made significant changes. We were also excited to do a mobile version of the bootcamp. My cofounder, Ned, was working at Google on the Search Index Team and has been a developer for 10-15 years. I had actually met him in college, and he was always the person I went to for help with math, stats, computer science questions, just because he was a fantastic teacher. We decided to start the first iteration of App Academy- the first class we taught was an iOS course, so half web and half iOS. After that, our classes have all been purely web development.
Why did you switch from iOS to purely web development?
A couple reasons. First, our goal has always been to train software engineers to write quality code. To be a legit iOS developer, you want to be able to create backend web services that feed data into your iOS application. Unfortunately, teaching web as well as iOS in a 12-week course was just too much to ask. Our other goal is to find people jobs, and the market for junior web developers was as strong as the market for junior iOS developers, so we were covered there. It’s possible that we might have a two-week iOS course available to students who have completed the 12-week web development course, but by the time students are done with this course, they could learn iOS in a couple of weeks. At that point, they already understand the fundamentals and can apply those to learning iOS software development.
Which programming languages will students master in the 12 weeks at app academy?
We have equal emphasis on Ruby and JS. We want to train students across the stack, and introduce students to programming through Ruby. That said, we try to teach as much language and framework agnostic software development as we can.
What is your acceptance rate?
We have roughly a 5% acceptance rate into our program. The average San Francisco cycle is 40 students, and the average NY cycle is 20 students.
How does App Academy select instructors?
Ned is now the lead instructor in San Francisco. We’ve tried to hire externally, but we’ve always had a hard time doing that. Since our bar is set very high at App Academy for students, we recruit the top 5% of our students to be our Teaching Assistants. They are usually students that have come in with a few years of experience under the belts.
What are you looking for in potential students?
We are cool with complete beginners, and have seen complete beginners be extremely successful in the course, and go on to work for fantastic companies and make crazy salaries. Our application process is customized to the applicant. If someone comes to us with no experience, we’ll assign them some introductory exercises and give them a coding test that would be appropriate for them. We do multiple coding tests and interviews to really get a sense of the applicant.
Once a student has been accepted, what type of pre-work is required?
Everyone who shows up on the first day of class can write a non-trivial computer program. After we accept a student, we give them 50-100 hours of prework. We think it makes sense to just focus on Ruby in the prework. We believe very strongly that the best way to code is by doing. This was a major problem when I learned to code- I went about it in the same way that I learned math- by reading for 90% of the time an doing proofs for 10%. For coding, you have to flip that on it’s head.
Of your average 18 person cohort size, how many are typically male vs. female?
Last time I ran the numbers, we were ~20% female. We’ve been lucky, and we’ve tried to do outreach, especially since there are options like Hackbright Academy (an all women school) around the corner. But given the overall environment (an average CS program has 1 woman out of 10), I think we’re making progress towards the goal.
So there are a number of online boot camps and online classes that teach Ruby and other languages. Why do you think in-person classes are the most effective?
One of the main reasons that these courses succeed is the immersion aspect. You’re going to be living and breathing this, and one key aspect of immersion is community- we have 30-40% of students living on campus. It shows you how tightly knit these people are, and there’s a natural competitiveness as well. We’ve had many applicants who have graduated from Bloc or Tealeaf, and I’m not sure that they know anything more than another applicant. I’m not sure that we can ever get to that point.
App Academy is one of the only boot camps that we’ve seen that only takes tuition if the student gets a job offer. Why did you decide on that payment model?
This is one place where we saw that we could offer an alternative to Dev Bootcamp. I don’t think it’s a flaw to charge tuition up front- that’s business as usual. But we were confident that we could teach people a lot in 12 weeks and get our graduates jobs, so why not put our money where our mouths are and decrease risk to students.
How does App Academy help your graduates find jobs in tech once they've completed the program?
Since we only get paid when we help a graduate find a job, we basically don’t stop working with students until they find a job they’re happy with. It takes an average of 4 weeks in San Francisco for graduates to find a job and roughly 2 weeks in New York. It happens pretty quickly, but we do a ton to help make that happen during and after the course. During the course, we’re helping students build a portfolio and an online presence, doing a bunch of whiteboarding problems, resume polishing, interview practice, and making introductions to companies.
Can you explain the relationships that App Academy has with partner companies?
We have a good number of partner companies, and also a huge network of companies where our graduates are working now. So the App Academy alumni network is huge- a student can get introductions through current developers, which really increases their chances of interviewing. There are huge network effects with the alumni networks at these schools.
If a graduate chooses to take a job with one of your partner companies, does App Academy offer them a rebate on tuition? Do you get a fee if this happens?
We get a recruiting fee if we place a student at a company we have a placement agreement with, and in that case, the student gets a discount of $5000.
Are the recruiting fees the same for every company?
No, it varies from company to company.
The job placement stat on the site was "over 95%.” Have you seen the same success in recent months?
If I look at the past 8 months in San Francisco and New York, 100% of students that have had enough time to complete the job search have been placed 100%. The average salaries are $103k in San Francisco and $85K in New York, and have risen higher for recent cohorts.
Aside from your clearly unique approach with only charging students tuition if they get job offers, what else makes your boot camp different?
The course is not for everyone, but if job placement is important to you, look at our recent statistics and match them against other bootcamps. Also, we’re a full-immersion course, including living on campus, so that is an important aspect. And third, our tuition model goes beyond low risk, free housing. We have a different incentive structure from other schools. We’re focused on getting you a job that you’re happy with- we’re not just checking boxes when you get an offer. We want to find you a high-paying job that you want to take.