Holberton School is a two-year software engineering school with campuses in San Francisco, New Haven, Tulsa, Bogotá, Medellin, Cali, and Tunisia that trains individuals to become Full Stack Software Engineers. The school's mission is to train the next generation of software developers through 100% hands-on learning.
The curriculum adopts a project-based, peer learning approach. As an alternative to college and in lieu of formal classes, students solve increasingly complicated programming challenges with minimal instruction. Students will develop resourcefulness as they search for the tools they need to solve these challenges while working with their peers. Rather than focusing on tools and frameworks, students at Holberton "learn to learn" and develop problem-solving skills. Throughout the course of the program, students work on industry-level projects and build their own applications.
Holberton School is free until students find a job and is open to anyone over 18 years old. No programming experience is required. Admission to Holberton School is based only on talent and motivation, with no consideration given to gender, nationality, ethnicity, age or social status.
Holberton School mentors ensure that the Holberton curriculum stays up to date. Holberton mentors work for rising startups and top-tier Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Apple, LinkedIn, Tesla and Airbnb. Mentors
Recent Holberton School Reviews: Rating 4.67
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In PersonFull Time80 Hours/week104 Weeks
Deposit N/A Tuition Plans Holberton School uses Income Sharing Agreements to fund student education. After students obtain a well paying job, students will pay back a fixed percentage of their income for 3.5 years. Additional details at holbertonschool.com. Refund / Guarantee Student may withdraw within the first 30 days with no money owed.
Minimum Skill Level No experience required Prep Work Students complete first part of curriculum as application process Placement Test No Interview Yes
In PersonFull Time
Deposit N/A Tuition Plans Income Share Agreement with reduced repayment percentage if students live and work in Tulsa after attending school. Additional details on holbertonschool.com Refund / Guarantee Student may withdraw within the first 30 days with no money owed. Scholarship $1500/mo need-based living assistance available. Additional details on holbertonschool.com
Minimum Skill Level No prior coding experience necessary. Prep Work Application process serves as necessary prep work. Placement Test No Interview No
Holberton School Reviews
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- amazing challenger- 11/19/2019Lady Marcela • Student of Software Engineer • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: Bogotá • Verified via GitHub
It's a great experience from every aspect, helps you grow personally and professionally, not only teach you programming also teach you soft skills to have a better performance in real life, create very strong ties with your peers, can make friends for life, as far as academics has a good management of the content they offer and encourage you to take out all the mental potential that one has, in general has been a great experience, maybe one thing that is against it is that many people do not have the ability to devote 100% to this program because of its hourly intensity, before entering the program many people have to save a large amount of money to be able to devote to study, I also feel that they should manage all the sites in the same way, because there are very significant differences in infrastructure and other administrative and academic issues of each site.
- My experience with Holberton School- 8/15/2019Farrukh • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
- Learning at the speed of light- 7/26/2019Juan Marin • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: Bogotá • Verified via LinkedIn
- Essence • DevOps Intern • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
Overall the environment is open and friendly, and most staff really do want to see the students succeed. With few exceptions my classmates are great people and everyone supports each other during the program. The space (the SF campus) is beautiful, open 24 hours, and comfortable to work in. The program is what you make of it.
Points off because students sometimes feel like their concerns go in one ear and out the other, and because of lack of clarity (at the time I applied) about how the program would progress. Both of these issues are currently being worked on by the staff, but in my view have not been totally solved yet.
The curriculum is very thorough, though hard at times to keep up with. You go through 3 months of low level and basics learning with C, three months of higher level learning with Python, and three months of broad overview of SRE/devops technologies and methodologies. I feel that the curriculum gives you a great base knowledge of engineering concepts, and the languages we learn are good ones for both practical use and for jumping off into other languages from.
Points off for the fact that front-end work is barely touched on, and that the SRE curriculum is shallow (although that’s as much a result of the time constraint as anything).
Having only gone through the foundational year, I cannot personally speak to the second year curriculum, but I will not be taking it as I believe I have enough of a base to find work and do well from here on out. Additionally, we’ve been told that the second year, though previously possible to do part-time and remotely, is now mandatory full time and it is strongly encouraged that you do it on campus. Full disclosure, some of the tracks in the second year are being developed by students who went through the program, which I know for some people is a red flag. I know the people in question and I know they’re working hard and doing their best, but I also understand other students’ reticence to learn from people who do not have years of experience in their field.
Job support 7/10
Job support starts after the foundational year and means you are put in a cohort of students actively looking for work. You must complete a set number of applications and interview prep activities each week to remain an active student and to be eligible for referrals from leads staff may have. This is difficult for many students because after the 9 months of foundational year, funds are running low and the ability devote that much time to the job search is rare. Many feel that they are unfairly punished for their need to go back to working to support themselves because of these requirements and the fact that the school does not refer you to positions if you don’t meet them. Potential students will want to budget about 3-4 months extra in living expenses in order to avoid this outcome.
The job support activities are things like hackerrank challenges held at school, and seminars on interviewing, negotiating, and technical skills
Points off for the added stress of the expectations of career sprint, and the fact that there are no company partners who give preferential interviews to holberton students, unlike at some other schools.
This is rated so low because there are no formal instructors. I didn’t have a problem with that, but people with a learning style that thrives in a lecture environment will not enjoy this program. That’s not to say there aren’t people with experience who will guide the class, just that there are no lectures showing you how to do things. The philosophy of the school is learning how to learn, just like you would on a job. You’re given a project every few days and some resources to read up on to help you understand the concepts to complete it. If you get stuck there’s a framework in place to help you know who to ask what kinds of questions. You won’t be left out to struggle if you really don’t get something, but the school wants to encourage you to learn how to find the resources you need on your own.
- Laura Roudge • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I am currently a student at Holberton School, in the middle of my first year (foundations).
I already loved the innovative concept of the Income Share Agreement (ISA) before starting because I couldn't afford going to college or paying for a super-expensive bootcamp. Now I can focus on studying, and pay 17% of my salary for 3 years and a half once I land a job! Also, this makes the school super inclusive, and you can really feel that they're trying their best to bring more minorities in tech and I love it. The space we share is super safe, and absolutely everybody has the same chances of success.
The culture at Holberton is what I like the best. Since the program is project-based and peer-learning based, we are constantly push to collaborate, help each other out and move forward together. I love this because in other schools I've been, the focus was always on obtaining the best grades and it made the atmosphere toxic. At Holberton, I have a real community I can rely on: peers, staff, alumni, mentors. Everybody will go out of their way to try and help you if you put the effort in.
The curriculum is tough, so it might not be a one-size-fits-all type of school. There is a lot of material we cover, and we move quite fast. This is awesome for me because I really feel the progress on a day to day basis and I can tell I've gotten more confident on a variety of skills, both technical and soft. But it takes a lot of hard work and you have to be prepared for long, tiring weeks. Although I have to say it's been really rewarding and satisfying so far!
In any case I would recommend giving the application a try because you have nothing to loose, and you get to learn how to build your first web page (yes, during the application process). And the application is totally free!
- Project Based - Peer Learning - Perfection!- 5/17/2019Ethan • Student • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I'm writing as a student halfway into the program.
Coming from a background of studying Computer Science's in high school and one year of communal college, I was in awe after coming here. I always felt the way I was learning wasn't very efficient. Starring at a professor hours at a time while he goes line through line of code - I was processing 10% of the information coming in. I took multiple online courses on my own and was already learning more than I did in months in school.
But I wanted to take this one step further - I wanted a place that realized how to free ones full potential, and I think I found it. One thing that's extremely important to realize, it's not going to be easy. There's no 'easy' way of becoming a software engineer. You are going to have to work hours every single day and most weekends. You might feel at certain points that you can't do it, but you will get through those times.
There are no formal teachers or classes at Holberton School. Everything you learn is through projects you do on a daily basis (sometimes more than a day). If you come across a problem you can't seem to figure out on your own, you will always have ~30 other friends around you who are going through the exact same thing. Of course not everything is self taught, and multiple days a week are mandatory to be on campus, in which you will go over the projects from the past few days in groups of peers.
If you're wondering if this is the best place for you, I think you have to know exactly what you want. If you're looking for some similar college experience (parties, less intense studies, etc.), this is not what you will find here. All of the students in this school are extremely motivated and focused, and thus are capable of working together in the best way. We all have one goal in common - to become software engineers.
Feel free to ask me any more questions - DM me on twitter @eitanmayer57
- Challenging experience- 5/9/2019Jose Ferney • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: Bogotá • Verified via LinkedIn
I am from cohort 0 from Bogota Colombia and I just can say. if you are a person who wants to learn/improve your tech skills Holberton is the perfect place for you, therefore, you have to be willing to learn from scratch in a high-level.
Honestly, I learned more in three months here than a year in a traditional school.
Holberton has a disruptive method is not centralized only en tech skills also the program make you improve your social skills and make you learn how to work into a team.
They have an amazing curriculum you will learn about low-level programming, algorithms, high-level programming, Devops and more.
- Robert • Graduate • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
My experience at Holberton has been mostly positive. I will say that it is a commitment, and that I had to cut out various social aspects of my life to finish projects, but if you go into the program with the mindset of devoting large portions of your time to it, you'll be good to go.
The content and projects were challenging and covered a wide spectrum in the realm of software engineering. I've attended one other coding bootcamp in SF and found it to be lacking in content and depth compared to Holberton. Even my college degree felt like a cakewalk compared to some of the projects I had to work through during the program.
Another great aspect of the program is that it's okay to fail at something or not meet a deadline because you have the ability to resubmit the project after meeting with your peers and discussing the project. Peer learning is a huge aspect of the program, and it really helps to learn from your peers / see different methods of thinking and problem solving.
Overall, I recommend this program to anyone who has the time and drive to really dedicate themselves to it. It can be difficult, time consuming, and exhausting, but ultimately worth it.
- The learning experience I always wished- 4/2/2019Omar Martínez • Software Engineer • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: Bogotá • Verified via GitHub
I love the self-training, learn the number of things I could find in reputable sources, I tried really hard to find something good enough to take as my professional route when I was close to taking my decision to be an entire autodidact. I meet Holberton, read the syllabus and feel secure that I finally could say, I find it, I found what I was looking for, the best way to learn the best technical abilities and engineer thinking, adding the possibility to interact with other extraordinary people in the tech industry, until the sun of today I still think the same, based on my experience I recommend Holberton School.
- Intense but worthwhile- 3/14/2019Kiren Srinivasan • Software Engineer • Graduate • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via Github
Having gone through traditional university at NYU as an econ major, worked in the tech industry, and started my own startup, it was not easy to get an interview for any junior/intern developer position in tech. However, I was eventually able to get an iOS contract job at an early stage startup that took a chance on me for 3-4 months.
It was after this iOS contract job that I started evaluating possible options for 1-2 year long coding schools (not a bootcamp, but not a traditional university) where I can grok foundational CS concepts (and their practical applications), build my own professional network, prepare for interviews, and, most importantly, learn how to learn. When trying to find a school that fit these criteria, I happened upon Holberton. It not only satisfied these criteria, but they were free upfront and would only charge me once I got a high-paying software engineering job through the ISA model. After doing my due diligence about the program and the people behind it, I was convinced and moved my life from NYC to SF.
Year 1 was really tough, but I couldn’t have built those programming/CS muscles without the continuous cycle of “struggling, getting into a good rhythm, and drastically ratcheting up the difficulty.” Having been in the tech industry for a little while before Holberton, my favorite parts of the program were that it: incorporated peer-learning in a way that properly simulates what it’s actually like to work on a team, made everything project-based so that you were able to apply concepts in relevant scenarios, and did not have any formal teachers spoon-feed you knowledge.
That being said, Holberton staff and TAs are always available if you do need help. However, as a student, you’re expected to use the resources that are given on projects, your peers around you, and Google to try to solve the problem at hand before “moving up the ladder.” If you’re asking your boss (technical or non-technical) a question that you can easily figure out through Google, you’re wasting her time. If you’re asking your boss a very-well framed, specific question that you’ve racked your brain over and thoroughly researched through Google and your peers, but couldn’t find the answer you were looking for, then you’re saving everyone’s time by asking the person high enough on the chain who probably does know what issues you’re having.
I loved how Holberton approached education so much that, even after having ~10 interviews, I decided to immediately take the full-time offer at Holberton as their newest software engineer at the time. It’s almost been a year that I’ve been working here at Holberton and I’ve been learning at that same insane pace as I was as a student.
If you have any questions about the program, feel free to tweet me @srinitude!
- A Place for Self-Starters- 2/22/2019Jinji • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
Holberton School is not your traditional school. It emphasizes community, collaboration and persistence over competition and "talent" -- two pillars of "traditional" education.
I chose to attend Holberton School because bootcamps seemed to be oversaturated and a dead-end route by the time I looked into them, and I didn't want to commit to the financial burden and length of a 4 year undergraduate degree. I had just began graduate school for Classical Music Performance at the time and could not fathom applying to another university.
I'm currently in month 8 in the 9 month core curriculum, and it has been truly a ride. Just like anything, what you put in is what you get out. Holberton has no teachers, but instead a guided curriculum -- a series of pedagogically sequential projects, that first build on atomic skills and computer science fundamentals. Once you progress through the program, the curriculum becomes more and more advanced and integrated, but the pace is relentless. By pace, I mean the frequency new topics are introduced. But that shouldn't be a problem because you should already know that you have an interest in programming/computer science before attending. Also, the projects are quite fun! You should also know that you are a self starter, and you work well under deadlines. Along with the curriculum, you have your peers, teaching assistants, and staff and mentors (in that order) for help. I really love how much emphasis is placed on asking educated questions, as I think this is an important life skill and lesson to learn early on.
The curriculum covers a great depth of topics, and there are always interesting advanced/optional tasks and projects to do if you have the bandwidth and desire. There are always opportunities to go above and beyond, but that must come intrinsically to the student, as it is easy to fall behind on projects if you're not focused. Holberton is an incredible opportunity for those who are self-starters, for those who are hungry to learn, and for those who ask why. While there is an ISA (you don't have to pay tuition until you get a job), it is not 100% risk-free (as most things aren't) and if you drop out after a certain point, you will have to pay the school if you make above a certain salary regardless of whether you're working in software. Study programming before you apply, and really spend some time playing around with code.
Not only is the curriculum great, the facilities (SF) are beautiful as well and echo the ethos and culture of Holberton -- bright, friendly, innovative. Working onsite is a great experience, and I think that's where the best peer-learning happens, and I recommend that all students should take full advantage of the space. It’s truly a pleasure to come in day after day to collaborate with some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. If you’re considering a life/career change, I highly recommend doing your research and applying to Holberton.
- From Food to Tech under a year.- 2/21/2019Spencer Taylor • Software Engineer, Naborly • Graduate • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
Hi I'm Spencer. I was in Cohort 5 at Holberton School SF and I started in Jan 2018. Before starting I was a chef, and before that a Navy vet. I got a job at a startup called Naborly 2 months before I finished year 1. Holberton School was one of the best experiences that I've had at a school as well as being one of the most difficult points in my life. I'm a major fan of the project and peer based learning. I don't really do well in traditional learning enviornments. I don't want to sit and have someone tell me how it works, I want to get my hands dirtry and learn through experience. This is a major tenant of Holberton. There are no instructors. You have to rely on your research skills, but more importantly you have to develop your communication skills. Your biggest resource at Holberton are your peers. Somewhere in the building is someone who has encountered the same problem that you're possibly facing and I guarantee you that the same person will be more than happy to give you the answer.
I really enjoyed my time at the school. I learned a lot about being a good team player, communication, and networking. The most important thing I learned though was that being able to write beautiful code is the smallest part of it. I'll leave you with some advice that Julian, cofounder of Holberton, gave me: "You can write the most amazing code the world has ever seen, but if you can't communicate what it does or teach someone how it works then you're not a very good engineer." If you want to be a great engineer, then I recommend Holberton School.
- Josh J. • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
"Overall, my experience with the school has been tough, eye-opening, satisfying, amazing, a roller-coaster of learning how to learn again and how to become successful in a new career field. I would highly recommend this school to others, just be prepared for what it means to become a student at Holberton School and that what you take away is earned not given to you. "
After 13 years in the Food and Events industries, I decided that I wanted to try something new and explore a field I had an interest in but no way in my mind to access. Software Engineering! When I began my search for how to do this I had no idea what I was doing so I reached out to a mentor of mine who is a Software Engineer and asked him to help me weed through my options. After looking through soo many options and trying out a few short length bootcamps my mentor and I found Holberton School.
What drew our attention first was that it was easily accessible for someone who wanted to make a Career Transition into the tech world. The school has no upfront fees rather it utilizes an ISA (Income Share Agreement) which makes it so that when you finish the program and get a job you will pay back the school for your education over 3 years once you get a job at 17% of your income to a maximum of $85,000. I cannot speak to how this has affected my lifestyle yet because I am in the 7th month of the first 9, but I will update my review at the point that I do get my first job as an engineer.
So to speak on the second reason why Holberton was the choice for me is the Curriculum, Project-based Learning, and Peer Learning system. My engineering friend helped review all the listed curriculums that the schools we researched provided and found that what would be learned and how it was presented through projects and a peer-learning based model would really make me successful in the industry as a Full-Stack Engineer:
- Low-Level Engineering in: C
- Higher-Level Programming in: Python
- Pointers, Linked Lists, Data Structures, and Search Algorithms
- System Engineering & DevOps track:
- Bash Scripting
- System Design
- Web Stack Debugging
I can go into more detail, but really the school does focus on giving you a well rounded Full-Stack Engineering background. With that said though there are some things to note before jumping into this program:
- IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!!
- This is not to say that the school is trying to exclude groups, but do some research into peer-learning and realize that this model of education will not fit everyone. For those who seek individual attention or need more of direct interaction with an instructor, this program may not be for you. Self-motivation, a general curiosity of how things work and have some ability to problem solve I believe are the base requirements for anyone who wants to be successful in this school.
- The program does not demand your attention, it REQUIRES it!
- Not to say that there have not been people who work or try to attempt to make it through the program while having some sort of side gig going. But, from my experience and what I have seen from others, it makes the already rigorous program much more difficult to handle. Keep in mind, you are attempting to become a Software Engineer who is capable of joining a company's engineering team in a 1-year to a 2-year time frame.
- The school does provide Job Assistance through their mentor network, interview prep materials, and now internal coaching and guidance provided by a newly hired on experienced Student Success Manager who has a strong background as a Career Advisor/Talent Manager for many other companies in the tech industry.
Overall, my experience with the school has been tough, eye-opening, satisfying, amazing, a roller-coaster of learning how to learn again and how to become successful in a new career field. I would highly recommend this school to others, just be prepared for what it means to become a student at Holberton School and that what you take away is earned not given to you.
- The future of education- 2/20/2019Jacob • Jr. Software Engineer • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
Tl;dr: Holberton School is the best option to become a software engineer currently out there, however, there are cons that you will need to weigh before deciding if it truly is for you.
I'll begin my review with the pros and then go into the cons.
Holberton School has the tried and true "bootcamp" model down to a T, but instead of the standard 3-4 month format, it is a 2-year program broken up into a 9-month basic, 6-month internship/job period, and a 9-month specialization period. They have recently redone how the last 2 parts work and you can now go into the last 9 months straight away or you can get a job for 6 months and then complete the specialization course(s) on your own time. They are continuously adding and adapting the curriculum to fit the landscape of today's software engineering world which makes their graduates very competitive in the job market especially compared to other bootcamp grads given that the amount of concepts we learn in 9 to 18 months is significantly more than the traditional bootcamp.
Another huge benefit of having such a large amount of time in the program there are days that are set aside for you to prep for interviews. These days have you go through the soft skills and hard skills portions of interviews that you will have when you enter the job market. These days really helped me when prepping for interviews and made me more confident when interviewing.
All of these things combined make Holberton a super competitive school and super innovative. The project-based learning style of Holberton is unique and conducive to learning in my opinion. I have never learned so much so fast as I have while attending Holberton.
Before I begin with my cons let me say that this did not really affect my rating I'm just trying to add an unbiased rating. From my perspective, I got a great job and learned so much because of how good Holberton's curriculum is and their large network of mentors.
When you attend Holberton School you sign an ISA(Income Share Agreement). While I'm a firm believer that ISA's are the future of funding higher education, I personally believe that the amount of your income Holberton School takes is too high. Holberton's mission is to make education for software engineers more accessible so that people of all backgrounds can chase their dreams, and while I believe this is truly what they want I think that their ISA is too high for that to be the case. When I began attending the ISA was for 17% of my income for 3.5 years (the 6-month internship + 3 years after graduating from the program) or $85,000 whichever comes first. After having done some research and living with the ISA payments for a few months I can say this is too high especially for their main campus which is located in the highest COL (Cost of Living) area in the US. I will say that if you get an SF level paycheck and find roommates and whatnot it might be doable, but not all of their students will end up living in SF and as such won't be making SF living. For instance, I live in Southern California and if it weren't for the fact I could live with my parents I wouldn't be able to live on my own and I think that's unacceptable. After having done some research into schools with ISA's it seems the standard ISA terms are 7-10% of a students income for 2 years which is much more doable especially when you consider that the student will still have to pay taxes on their gross earnings as ISAs aren't tax deductible.
At this time Holberton doesn't have any official job support, so you do really have to rely on yourself and networking to find a job. That being said the staff is sometimes notified of potential job opportunities from mentors and other connections so the staff is doing what they can to help students find a job and I did get an interview thanks to the school, however, most people I know got their jobs from their own working networking. However, since the amount of alumni is growing the network of students is growing and is helping get the Holberton name out which is making it easier for future students to find a job.
After having said all that I've had to said I wholeheartedly recommend attending Holberton School. It has changed my life and the lives of many others and will continue to change the lives of many people after me.
- Great experience, would recommend!- 2/19/2019Vasudha Kalia • Software Engineer • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I moved all the way from Canada to find an education institution that served my needs and work in the coveted Silicon Valley. Coming from a university background I was very unsatisfied with my degree, job support and University's overall involvement in my success. Holberton's application process is what persuaded me to believe in their model. The school is super intense and requires a full time commitment but their learning model does not focus on teaching 1 specific language, it actually teaches you to solve problems like an engineer. You are given new projects every day and solve questions by struggling, googling and peer support which makes you an independent learner. By the end of the program I was able to pick up new frameworks and languages with ease. The school does not focus much on Front end frameworks like React or Vue but it did not take me a lot of time to learn them on my own. I would say I am 100% satisfied with the curriculum, interview training, resume building and networking training that I received from this school. After 3 months of the end of 1st year I was able to secure a job in the industry as a software engineer earning a handsome starting salary.
- Mitali S. • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I am currently a student at Holberton School San Francisco (Batch January 2018). I finished my year 1 in october 2018 and least to say I have come a long way from a digital marketer to a software engineer in a matter of 9 months!
Like the title mentions Holberton School is not just any bootcamp, it is better than one and less time consuming than a regular 4 year cs degree course. That is in itself a bonus point there. As a person who already has an undergrad degree I was least interested in going to a formal education to become a "software engineer" and during my research I came across Holberton and many other alternative education schools.
Why I chose Holberton and why I love it?
There are many reasons for that -
1. Holberton was close to the place I live in. Living is expensive in SF, but traveling back and forth is expensive on my time schedule and pocket.
2. It does not ask for upfront tuition. I as a person who recently left a job did not have much to finance another education and was in no mood to get a loan. The way Holberton promised to not charge before but after I got a job gave me confidence that the school trusts in its framework and assures you that it's not just any other bootcamp degree.
3. Focus on full stack development. You not only learn front end later on in the course but you learn coding languages such as C and Python. You learn how to learn and grow as a well rounded engineer.
4. Meetups and Hackathons! These are gold from my PoV. I have connected with such amazing mentors worked in side projects and learnt a lot by attending free meetups to get insight into the industry.
5. Deadlines. I am a procrastinator, I like my deadlines. All projects are timed and have deadlines you have to meet like in regular world.
6. Peer learning - you don't have teachers! you have your peers who help you learn and you help them in return. Real world stuff here. Collaboration is the key to success.
7. The application process - It was amazing. Never have I seen an application process that makes you learn bits and pieces of coding while you're applying! That itself made me feel confident that okay, I'm already learning even if I have not been selected as a student!
Overall I love that I am a Holbie and I would never trade it for anything. I have learnt a lot and learnt how to learn which will be one of my biggest assets in the future. So if you're looking for a school that invests in you before you invest in them, then it is for you. Although, beware the course is not easy and not meant for everyone. IF you have perseverance and dedication you will succeed!
- Victor Nguyen • Junior System and Software Engineer Intern • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
Hello, I am a Holberton student from cohort 5 who finished the first year (9 months on-site) of the curriculum in October 2018. After that I applied to and accepted a position as a System and Software Engineering Intern at Holberton which started at the end of November 2018.
Holberton's mission is to provide high quality education for the many. The school offers a two-year software engineering program, with no teachers, in a project based curriculum with an emphasis on peer learning. Students don't need to pay tuition upfront. Instead, Holberton has an income share agreement (ISA) system, where you won't need to pay until you get a job. This is a great aspect of Holberton because the success of the school aligns with the success of the students.
The next 9 months were the most demanding of my life. I spent many hours at school learning about the fundamentals of computer science, practicing whiteboarding skills, interview prepping, coding, and writing blogs about what I had learned. I usually started my days around 8:30 a.m. and would sometimes not get home until after 11 p.m. or later. There are times when I would struggle on a particular topic and wouldn’t be able to fully complete the project before the midnight deadline. This was a bit disheartening, but it wasn't the end of the world because we had Peer Learning Days (PLDs). PLDs were days where no new projects were released and we had all day to work together in groups to review what we didn't understand, and do tasks that we weren't able to complete. I am thankful for these days because I was able to work with my peers, clarify confusing concepts, and see different thought processes. Aside from PLDs, there are mandatory Refinery days as well that serve as mock interview practice. We are split into pairs, and take turns interviewing each other about soft skills, computer science knowledge, and technical challenges where we would need to whiteboard our thought process and code out a solution.
The Holberton School staff wants everyone to succeed and tries to modify the school experience accordingly with feedback and suggestions from students. For example, the PLD system was initially an entire cohort event, which was a chaotic ordeal. Now, students are broken up into smaller groups of 4 to 7 people so that discussions can be more manageable. The process for change and improvement can take time, but with each cohort, the overall student experience is improving, and the staff tries to make themselves available to students. The staff is a group of wonderful people who are dedicated to improving and developing the Holberton community, and has helped grow the school from the initial campus in San Francisco, to across the nation in New Haven, CT, and internationally in Bogotá, Colombia.
Holberton is an excellent opportunity to get started with a career in tech no matter what stage in life you are. There are students from ages 18 to 50+ that go through the program. The curriculum is very intense and demanding. There were times where I really struggled with the program, but I was able to overcome the challenges with determination and the help of my peers. It is recommended that you do not work while you attend the school. I have friends who went through the program while holding full-time jobs. Although it is possible, it was very stressful for them. The school is trying to establish more scholarship opportunities in the future to assist students.
I hope you found this article informative and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. If you have any further questions please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @victormdnguyen.
- Best Decision I've Ever Made- 2/4/2019Alexa • Jr. Software Engineer • Graduate • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
Choosing to attend Holberton School was probably the best decision I've ever made in my life. Before attending, I graduated from a prestigious engineering school cum laude with a Chemical Engineering degree and couldn't have felt any less prepared to enter the job market. After months of applying to numerous companies and coming up short, I ended up working at In-N-Out in the daytime and tutoring high school students at night just to make ends meet. Luckily I had received a full-tuition scholarship and wasn't in debt. I can't imagine how stressful that time would have been if I also had to deal with student loans like so many other college graduates.
When a friend of mine (who also attended Holberton) suggested I apply, I jumped at the opportunity. I had been exposed to a tiny amount of computer science in my undergraduate degree and found it fascinating but thought it was too late for me to switch. Since Holberton is only a 2-year program and is focused almost entirely on software engineering, I knew I wouldn't have to waste an additional 2 years redoing general education requirements before I even touched any software engineering classes. Also, since Holberton is an ISA based model, I knew that I wouldn't need to go into debt and that they were truly invested in my learning since their success as a company was tied to my success in finding a job. The ISA is 17% of your salary for 3.5 years if you make >$40k and is capped at a total of $80k. Since most entry-level engineers in the bay-area start off at around 100k, you'll probably end up paying around $60k in total, which is the cost of only 1 year at a private university. To me, it just made sense to choose Holberton over a traditional educational model: faster, no debt, cheaper, invested in my success.
If that wasn't enough, the best draw of Holberton was that it's a peer-learning, project-based school. That means NO TEACHERS and NO LECTURES! Although some other reviews saw this as a negative, I found this model to be MUCH better than the traditional education approach. In college, I often found that professors just repeated everything that was said in the textbook and never actually added anything of great significance. This made lectures feel like a waste of both my and the professor's time. Also, the only real measure of success was tests, where students would be told ahead of time what topics would be covered and then would immediately forget everything after the tests were over. If the goal of college is to be able to land a job and perform well at it, this model of education fails tremendously because it makes students strive for grades instead of striving to actually learn how to perform well at various tasks. Holberton fixes this model by actually focusing on learning and being able to perform. In a real job, you can't just go to your employer every time you have a question. They will think you're incompetent. By making students actually read and solve problems, Holberton teaches its students how to learn how to learn. If students need help, they're encouraged to first do their due diligence in researching what they're stuck on and then go to their peers just like you would in a real working environment. If a student is really stuck, the staff is super helpful in explaining complex topics that no one else can teach. This forces students to actually think critically about the task at hand and how to solve these tasks. The schools' model is all about empowering its students to take learning into their own hands instead of viewing professors and experts as the gatekeepers of knowledge.
I also felt that the project content and order was beautifully crafted. As a former tutor, I can say one of the most important aspects of teaching is the order in which you introduce various topics. From a high-level view, each project was built on top of the previous one such that you were always using the knowledge learned in previous projects and pushing your understanding even further. The projects not only help to teach students various concepts but also help students learn how to actually implement this knowledge. I found that in my job searches, the ability to actually implement knowledge is what employers are looking for. This project-based model allows students to build a portfolio while learning. This means that by the time students begin to look for jobs, employers are able to see exactly how competent students are at actually performing the tasks required of the position. Students are also able to practice their whiteboarding and interview skills throughout the program during mandatory days. This was invaluable practice that made me feel extremely prepared to go into my real life interviews. Although Holberton didn't have a formal employee to help with interview preparation/job applications at the time of my studies, they have since hired a new employee whose entire focus is on student success.
Overall, I felt that I learned more in just the first week of Holberton than I learned in an entire semester of a computer science course in college. The community at Holberton went above and beyond anything I could have imagined. The school stressed collaboration over competition and there is a true sense of "nobody left behind". Students across all cohorts are always willing to help each other and I've made some of my best friends through the program. After only a year of studies, I was able to land a job as a Jr. Software Engineer! I would not be where I am today without Holberton.
- Learn how to learn- 1/29/2019Becky • Jr. Software Engineer Intern • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I’m currently a software engineer intern and former Cohort 5 student. I had no prior computer science background and studied math and science in college. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience throughout the program and felt well-prepared for my current position, because Holberton admittedly does a good job of simulating the tech workplace environment.
A typical day at Holberton: First, you come in and pick your favorite spot to work. Once you’ve settled down, you’ll log onto the school’s intranet and find a project assigned to you for that day. Your only task is to complete that project by the given deadline. There are suggested readings linked in the project page and your old reliable friend Google. Given these tools, you are expected to solve the mandatory problems usually by the end of the day depending on the project. What I like about this structure is that it’s similar to what you’d expect in the tech industry: your supervisor assigns a ticket for you to complete (a new feature, a bug fix, improvement to an existing algorithm, etc.) and you’re expected to complete the task mostly on your own by using your existing knowledge and the Internet. Of course, you can ask your mentor questions but most times they’ll be busy, and so you must learn how to learn on your own and become a Google master (key skill!).
Following project days are Peer Learning Days (PLDs) where students are assigned to groups to review the project. This day is dedicated to filling any gaps in conceptual understanding on topics covered in the project. I recommend to take these days seriously because as a non-traditional computer science student, you’ll be missing the CS theory that will allow you to build a solid foundation in the industry and essentially help you learn new technologies/skills at a faster pace (key skill!). Also, most technical interviewers will ask questions that test your understanding of CS theory so it’s best to prepare for that early on. That’s why you need to be proactive and aggressive about addressing any questions you have after every project.
There are other mandatory days like Reefinery which incorporate mock interviews conducted by your peers. You’ll encounter popular tech interview questions in areas ranging from soft skills to system design to whiteboarding algorithms.
It’s also important that you know how to work with other people, as you’ll likely be working in teams as a software engineer. There are a handful of group projects (2-3 people) in the program that involve cooperating with your partner to complete a larger task. Just a heads up: you’re going to get close with your fellow cohortmates and naturally become each other’s cheerleaders, since you’ll be working with them during a good chunk of your day.
#regrets: Not doing practice interview questions and side projects on weekends. Even just 1-2 algorithms or 1-2 hours of side projects per week would have been reasonable because that way it doesn’t even seem like extra work. For example, if you finish a project early, squeeze in another algorithm or two. Or, on a chill Saturday morning, work on a solo project that you enjoy and can potentially showcase in your resume later on. Basically, do an extra something in moderation to consolidate what you learn in school. If you start this habit early in the program, you’ll be so thankful when the 7-9th month comes around and people start studying and job hunting intensively -- you’ll already be less stressed and well-oiled to jump into interviews.
Pro-tip: Always whiteboard before you code. It’s important to gather your thoughts and determine an approach to the problem before anything else. That’s the hard part. After you have an approach, coding will just be translating your algorithm so that a computer can understand and implement it. Also, go to the gym. It’s good for you.
People who should apply: self-motivated, eager-to-learn, well-balanced, critically thinking, collaborative, independent, persevering individuals who like to find ways to work efficiently.
- Brennan D Baraban • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
Holberton School fosters effective learning of full-stack web development in a supportive, enjoyable, and career-building environment.
I am a student at Holberton currently half-way through the Year 1 curriculum. Already, I have learned just so much, and every day, I look forward to learning more.
I do not intend to dismiss the traditional education system; I myself am a product of it, and a successful one at that. Yet, Holberton School achieves one thing (among many) very well that I believe holds back student success in colleges and universities - removal of inter-student competition. At Holberton School, there are no grades. Rather, the emphasis is on understanding of the material you study. And not just individual understanding, but collective understanding.
Holberton School flips the script on effective education. By eliminating grades, studying becomes not a matter of memorizing material for the sake of short-term performance, but a practice in true critical thinking. The school encourages you to question everything. Why does this work? How does this work? Why this over that? Every project is provided with corresponding learning objectives where such questions are essential. These learning objectives are not mandatory per se - there are no grades after all - but failure to develop true understanding of the programming concepts and skills you study makes it difficult to succeed over the course of the program.
Projects themselves are offered in such a way that you can go about the curriculum however best suits your individual learning preferences. Projects are released on a school intranet. They must be completed by a deadline, and are checked with completion scores (for the sake of ensuring student progress), but beyond that, can be completed according to your schedule. There are no classes or lectures; instead, projects include links to all the references and material necessary to learn and code programs. From there, you have access to any additional help or resources you need through the school framework, a philosophy involving independent research skills and peer assistance. Holberton School is attended by and employs people of many skill-sets, of many tech specializations - if someone does not know the answer to a question, they know someone who does.
Even at the point where you do feel that you personally understand a topic, where you can comfortably code a program off the top of your head, you are not quite finished. At Holberton, you are not truly proficient in a topic if you cannot explain and teach it to others. This is where the peer-learning model comes into play. Every week, we participate in peer-learning days, where we gather in groups to collectively understand what we've learned, and reefineries, mock student-to-student interviews that force you to work through programming concepts and problems based on the skills you've gained up to that point. Such mandatory days enforce peer-to-peer learning, but you learn the most by collaborating with others at the school on a daily basis.
The emphasis on learning, adaptable curriculum format, and development of research skills make Holberton's model effective, and enjoyable. I do not simply learn a lot about software development at Holberton - I love how I learn it. The school is one big group of people collectively striving toward becoming the best possible software developers they can be. This environment is non-competitive, supportive, and friendly.
Of course, all this would be meaningless if not for an expansive and thorough curriculum, and Holberton does not disappoint. The Year 1 curriclum provides a complete full-stack web development education. Only halfway through Year 1, I can comfortably work in shell scripting as well as both functional and object-oriented programming with either low- or high-level languages. I have worked in Bash, C, and Python and look forward to applying HTML, CSS and more to web application projects soon. I have already coded complex programs including a Linux shell and bytecode interpreter, both independently and with partners. On top of the web development material, I have been exposed to game development and machine learning - topics I could choose to pursue in specialized Year 2 curriculum. And regardless of the language, I have become practiced in independent research and learning skills which I could readily apply to learning any coding framework I might need in the future - a technical skill-set arguably more important in the every-evolving workspace that is the tech industry.
It is important to note your personal goals and investment when considering going into software development, or attending a coding school. Holberton School is not a job guarantee. It will not hold your hand and walk you through the curriculum. And it will not give you any official certification. None of this is the school's intention, and it does not advertise itself this way. Instead, Holberton School is just that - a school. The goal at Holberton is to provide students a complete education in software development, to give them the best possible skill-set to succeed in the tech industry, and to provide them the opportunities necessary toward applying those skill-sets in long-lasting careers. This is accomplished in a condensed time frame - two years - and the program is correspondingly intensive. Success at Holberton may not be measured in grades, but requires a dedication and commitment to investing time and struggle into developing a strong programming skill-set.
Do not attend Holberton School with the goal of achieving a tech job in the shortest time frame possible. Rather, attend Holberton School because you are passionate about coding and working in tech, because you believe in learning, and because you strive toward self-improvement. For these reasons, few schools will provide an environment as personally enjoyable and permanently effective as Holberton.
- Good content- 1/24/2019Bennett Dixon • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
I have been attending Holberton for approximately 4 and a half months. Over the first three months, we learned in depth about C and bash for low-level development and fundamental computer science concepts. Those three months were perhaps the most valuable. We are getting into more high-level programming now. I would say Holberton's curriculum is excellent, with a focus on pushing you to become great at the interview process. That is another area they are unique; allowing you to practice interviews from week one definitely is going to give me a leg up in the hiring process once I complete the first year. I feel that they truly fit as much content as they can in the nine months.
The only problem I have with the school is personally I joined it as an exclusive software engineering school after they advertised a shocking 2.9% acceptance rate (total horse **** btw). It has since been removed from the site and they have rebranded to the software engineering school that anyone in the world can go to. Both of these are great, and it definitely is a very good school, but I do feel mislead by the promised exclusivity only to have two campuses open in Columbia and one across the states in New Haven, and be lied to about acceptance rate. As I said, great content and a great program, but it is not exclusive so if you are looking for credentials so to speak, rather than an education, I wouldn't say this is the place. Thankfully I was looking for both so I am still doing great. You will notice despite this I have given them great reviews, that is true because I believe they are a great school.
- Isaac Wong • Jr Software Engineer Intern • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I am a student from batch 5 at Holberton School’s San Francisco campus. Our batch started in January of 2018, and finished the 9 months on-site intensive training in October 2018. By the end of November, I was accepted to have the opportunity to be employed as a software engineer intern at Holberton School.
In less than one year of training, I went from being an individual who has never written code on a whiteboard, to a professional being entrusted to maintain and develop features for the very web applications which were the conduit for my education. My experience at Holberton has been very fruitful, and I believe it has been and will be fruitful for others. I hope to share a bit about the model of Holberton to help prospective students make a more informed decision to determine if Holberton is a good fit for them.
Holberton’s education program is based on a project-based peer learning model. In order to facilitate the students’ education, Holberton implemented several practices/systems: the Framework, the automated Checker, Peer Learning Days (PLD), and Refineries.
During project completion, you are presented the learning Framework to follow as a guideline in your learning. It is the methodology that is taught as a means to find solutions to technical issues in completing projects.
The majority of the projects are graded automatically by Holberton’s Checker system, which tests the efficacy of your scripts/programs, as well as programming style.
Upon project completion, there are mandatory days where you are required to come on-site to participate in the Peer Learning Days, where you spend the entire work-day discussing the project with your peers, and Refineries, where students conduct mock interviews with each other, usually quizzing each other the topics that have been covered thus far.
All these practices serve to facilitate the peer learning aspects of the program. They are under continuous development and reinforce Holberton School’s other main objectives which are to teach students how to learn, and to aid in soft skill development.
When completing the projects, there is often a minimum of resources provided. This is usually intentional -- over the course of 9 months, the projects are structured so that students will spend a lot of time trying to learn how to learn new materials. Once Googling has failed to yield clues toward solutions, asking a fellow peer is the next option. Being able to articulate issues and programming concepts to different persons, and being able to listen and diagnose some else’s codebase, are all real-world skills that I feel like Holberton School facilitates much more effectively than is possible in online programs.
Learning in a peer environment can be uncomfortable at times. Because one has to strive for solution by oneself first, it can be daunting sometimes to determine when is the appropriate time to ask for assistance. With a project assigned, and a deadline quickly approaching, in a work environment, it is sometimes more responsible to ask for assistance rather than try to spend the time to learn. However, with learning being the objective, one has the weigh if she needs to spend more time learning how to learn (i.e. reading and Googling more), or if one should try to ask for assistance to overcome a mental block. Also, since there is no central authority such as an instructor, peer learning sometimes skews the learning towards groupthink. I’ve seen whole batches of students attempt a task in a sub-optimal way seemingly because that is what everyone else is doing. These effects of the peer learning model can slow the rate at which a student learns the technical aspects of software engineering.
However, uncomfortable it may be, these are the very circumstances that a peer learning environment creates which allow for the individuals to further develop one’s soft skills. All these situations: discerning when to ask for help, trying to intuit the optimal solution amidst the crowd that is doing the opposite, remaining humble to listen to another’s methodology that may be contrary to your own, etc. These are all positions that one will find herself in any workplace. Peer learning places students together where unsupervised interpersonal interaction is required, and disagreements are bound to happen. It’s difficult to observe and measure growth in these soft skills, but the opportunities to practice appropriately responding to these situations in a low-risk setting are ample at Holberton.
Correspondingly, Holberton School’s strength is in its community. Students rely upon and interact with their batch-mates to learn from, and to learn through teaching. There are students to encounter from all different backgrounds within one’s own batch, and from other batches. Through regular required interaction with each other, through laughter and sometimes tears, you will have the opportunity to develop lasting professional relationships and friendships.
Holberton itself is a startup -- not everything and everyone is completely polished. Like all startups, the ambition is great, but yet the available resources to achieve them are strained. There are typos in the curriculum, and policies and products are being continually revisited and revamped. However, the curriculum works. Students are being educated, and many are getting employment. The staff is completely behind their work of creating high-quality education to the many -- I am inspired by the amount of effort that is put forth by all the staff to create the systems, resources, environment and procedures to facilitate the learning process and to expand to reach more students.
In the end, here are my recommendations for prospective students: If your goal is to be employed as quickly as possible, and you know what specialization you wish to have, then it makes more sense to attend a bootcamp that will familiarize one with specific technologies and projects to showcase that particular proficiency so that one can become marketable more quickly than Holberton’s timeline.
If your goals are to work in academic environments, a more rigorous understanding of computer science theory and degrees are necessary. Obtaining a traditional education at a university will be a more suitable means for that.
I was looking for a program that would help prepare me for a lifelong career in the tech industry. I was interested in programs that would allow me to have face-to-face interactions with peers to develop accountability because, even though it is the most economical option, I knew that I could not succeed with a self-study program since I lacked the intrinsic discipline. But even if I could, I’m still not sure I would have chosen a self-paced solo study program. With all the information out there, it’s difficult to cut through the noise and determine what is important to learn, and I also wanted to improve my learning and soft skills. I was fortunate to find Holberton School, as it was a program that is bold enough to take the time to instruct foundational technical concepts common to all programming environments, and it was a place that allowed me to immerse myself in the collaborative environment and develop the teamwork skills that I feel are necessary to succeed in the workplace.
If you also want to spend the next chapter of your life learning how to learn in a place that will allow you to learn how to work with others as you practice the craft of software engineering, then I hope you consider Holberton School.
A question I often encounter when talking to prospective students is: can I work while going to school? The answer is yes, you can, but I advise against it. It is possible to work around the mandatory days, days when you are required to be a school from 9-3 PM. I have batch-mates who worked nights and/or weekends. But as a rule, the 9-months on-site is designed to be embarked as a sole commitment. The classmates I know who held full-time or part-time jobs while working generally wish they could have had more time and energy to study. I understand that the one of the greatest barriers to entry for prospective students is developing a financial situation where one can live for at minimum 9 months (usually more) without employment. There has been progress in the development of scholarship programs, but at the time of writing, there is not enough supply to meet all the need. If you are very interested in the program, but are struggling to figure out the financials, I would then ask one to be very honest with themselves: Have you been very successful at maintaining two or more full-time commitments in the past? If so, then it could be an option worth considering. But every account I heard from students went through the 9-month on-site training while working stated that it was difficult.
- Great School- 12/29/2017Steven • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via GitHub
I have been a student at Holberton for about a year. Before I came to this school, I knew virtually nothing about coding or how an operating system works internally. Now I feel I can confidentially say I possess that knowledge in addition to acquiring the priceless skill of independent learning with a large support system to aid in the process. Holberton's model of learning is palpable in everything that they are from the students to the setup; covered wall to wall in whiteboards and bean bags to lounge in comfortably when writing your code. It is in all these ways and more that Holberton successfully converts ambitious people with little technical knowledge into potential candidates for sought after companies like Apple and Google.
- Holberton School is awesome!- 12/16/2017Liz • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
Holberton School is an amazing place to learn full stack software engineering - from the fundamentals and low level software engineering to higher level programming. All assignments are project based and there are no traditional teachers. The students are expected to do their own research to learn the material to complete the projects. Instead of formal teachers, students are encouraged to first ask other students for help and teach each other.The school also helps prepare students for the soft skills they need as a programmer. There are days were the students practice interviewing through mock interviews with each other. There are also mentors who are available to do mock interviews with students once they are ready to start interviewing at companies for jobs and internships. Some of the projects are also done in groups, so students learn how to work together to complete the assignment.I am currently close to half way through the initial 9-months of the two year program. Some of my favorite things about the program are:- The staff is wonderful and genuinely care about the students.- Great network of mentors who work in the industry- Very diverse population of students - many people are changing careers, others are fresh out of college or high school - all learning programming- No payments up front - just once you get a job- Great space with plenty of whiteboards and variety of working arrangements (sitting and standing desks, study rooms, bean bags)For me, the only "con" I can think of is that it is very difficult to have a job while attending the school which means living on a budget. I don't really mind this as much, though, because I am having so much fun learning about software engineering and programming.
- Student from second Batch (Batch 1)- 12/14/2017Philip Yoo • Software Engineer • Student • Course: Full-Stack | Project-based curriculum • Campus: San Francisco • Verified via LinkedIn
I'm a student from Batch 1, which is the second batch from Holberton (since we go by zero index in programming). Also, I'm currently in the second phase of the program, where you get 6 months to either find a job/internship to work in the industry or you can self-study. So I have not completed the program, and am sharing my experiences so far.
The general timeline of the program is:
-> 6 months of self-study or finding an internship/job
-> 9 months of part-time or full-time study in a topic of your choice
Holberton school utilizes a peer learning approach where students learn together and really learn from each other. There are no real instructors, however the staff will often jump in and help out or provide a deeper dive into certain topics. Also, the school has a ton of mentors who you can get in contact with to ask questions, whether it be related to the curriculum or not. This is a very great resource as you'll find that throughout the program, you will come to realize more what you wish to focus on. Since the first 9 months of the curriculum is heavily based on the 3 general topics mentioned above, you don't get a lot of leeway to really focus on what you want to learn. However, knowing the 3 general topics above (I think) is essential to becoming a solid developer.
Depending on how deep you want to dive into the curriculum topics (and the daily exercises/projects), there should be time on the side to study your own things if you wish.
I believe the more you put into the program, the more you get out of it. Just attending the program and participating in it is oftentimes not enough to succeed in the industry. So if you're prepared to dive into the program, and are committed to finding a career in tech, I highly encourage you to constantly challenge yourself, always look to improve your understanding, be open to changes, and adapt to the type of information you receive and don't be stringent in your understandings.
My overall experience was positive. I don't think I would be where I'm at today without my experience at Holberton. I do believe the curriculum and culture of the school could be improved, but as I was only the second batch through the program, they were still improving upon the school.
Another great thing about the school is if you want to improve the curriculum, you can do so. As each new batch goes through the program, the curriculum will likely be improved and iterated upon.