Launch School (formerly Tealeaf Academy) is an online program for serious beginners whose goal is to become professional developers. The program focuses on fundamentals of programming and software engineering, and guides students through a structured path of building up proficiency in software development.
The program focuses on full-stack web development, and takes about 500-800 hours to complete. The entire curriculum has 4 initial phases: The Preparatory Work, Programming and Back-end Development, Front-end Development, and Frameworks, Integration and Advanced Topics. After that, students may enter the job-guarantee Career Services phase, where they work 1on1 with a mentor to land their first job in software development.
The entire program is $199/month- expect an in-depth and advanced curriculum in an online bootcamp.
Recent Launch School News
- Alumni Spotlight: Matthew, Tealeaf Academy
- Free Webinar: Which Online Coding Bootcamp is Best for YOU?
- Student Review: Luke Tower, Tealeaf
Recent Launch School Reviews: Rating 5.0
The Capstone Mentoring Program
Launch School Reviews
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My experience with Launch School was very positive. Learning to code can be extremely difficult, and with a seemingly endless array of computer science techniques and tools out there, it's not always apparent which direction one should go in. The LS curriculum's heavy focus on fundamentals is less about teaching you the newest parlor tricks, and more about building yourself into a person who can navigate the ever-changing landscape of web development with confidence and understanding. The old adage, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime", would appropriately describe their philosophy.
The Launch School curriculum is not easy and can sometimes seem very daunting, but if you are dedicated and are prone to self-study then you can gain a ton of invaluable knowledge and skills. It took me about 9 months of mostly full-time studying to complete the coursework. My brain got fried a few times along the way, but it was worth it! The instructors are really cool, and they are quite helpful at guiding you along the often difficult path. I also never felt that they were trying to sell me any BS, which is nice. This could be the program for you if you're looking for something that's more on the hardcore end of the spectrum.
It has been more than one year since I starting learning to program with Launch School.
Last but not the least, another thing that I like about the LS community is the writing and sharing of articles by students. You’ll see students do some wonderful things and go through a great learning experience and then write about that. Others might have a question and by asking and getting an answer, other students may also learn something in the process. Some former and current students have spoken at various conferences worldwide. Things like that inspire you to do something similar. I’m happy to announce that I’ll be one of the speakers at the Ruby Conference in Taiwan later this year. Although it’s probably not as prestigious as the American version and my topic is the Elixir language, I have to say thank you Launch School! Thank you for creating this wonderful learning experience.
Before joining Launch School I had worked 4 months as a programmer but never really felt confident in my skills as a developer, so after reading the rave reviews from past students I decided to join so I could pick up solid software engineering skills (like TDD, BDD and others). Launch School takes you all the way to the beginning, teaching you programming fundamentals from scratch. Because I had programmed before, it started out easy for me, but quickly picked up steam.
You can read my full experience through-out the program here. Every step of the way through-out Launch School, you will be getting delightful 'aha' moments, and there is also a very supportive community that is available if you need to ask a question or want to help someone else.
The whole curriculum is amazingly well-thought-out and slowly builds your skills and your confidence.
My initial thought was that I would spend 3 months on the program, I ended up doing well over 10 months, so expect to invest a lot of time and hard work in this program, but I can tell you that it is truly worth it, and because you pay in monthly instalments instead of one big lump sum, I think the program is very affordable.
This program is the real deal and I can't say enough good things about it.
I have been taking Launch School's courses for about 8-months now and I'm going out of my way to write a review because of how well I have enjoyed their courses. I have taken all of their beginning back-end courses, some of the advanced back-end courses and am just starting their front-end courses.
It took me a long time to find online programming courses this good - I've tried almost every other online one out there and Launch School is the best for a number of reasons. First, their content is by far the best you will find online. Everything is enjoyable to learn, accurately taught, and you will complete each course with a wholesome understanding of the subjects. Second, they teach mastery based learning. This is one part of Launch School that took me a few months to really accept as the best way to learn. As long as you take the time to do all of the assignments (and they all are important) you will really master the subjects they are teaching and you will have a very good idea about where you stand with the material. After almost every class they mandate a "interview" with them to be sure that you're really grasping everything they teach. This is a crucial part about why I think their graduates will be more successful than other online schools.
I think there is a ton of awful online material and competition in this space right now but I could not say enough good things about Launch School. I have recommended Launch School to tons of other people and I cannot say enough good things about it.
Thanks to the thorough curriculum at Launch School and the boundless effort and support of the instructors and TAs, I am now working as a software developer for one of the largest MOOC platforms in the world.
I can honestly say that a couple of years ago, even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn't have believed I would be working as a professional software developer at the age of 26 (with no college degree in Computer Science either!).
I tried many, many online programs and courses over the past couple of years, but the big difference with Launch School is that the curriculum is designed to allow anyone to gradually work up to the level of a professional junior software developer at their own pace. No other course out there goes into as much depth as Launch School. I can personally testify to this - in the first month of my job my mentor was extremely surprised how wide my knowledge base was, especially in topics such as Object-Oriented Design, Continuous Intregration and TDD.
Take one of the preparatory courses for free and get your foot in the door - you've got nothing to lose!
I participated in the Capstone Mentoring Program from January to April of 2016. It was a completely transformative experience and proved absolutely invaluable in my transition to a software engineer at a reputable and successful company in NYC. The fact of the matter is that I simply would not have been provided the top quality job opportunity that I ultimately accepted if it wasn't for the process that we followed and the mentoring that we were given.
If you are thinking about whether this program is right for you, the most appropriate advice that I could provide is this: be absolutely certain that you are willing to be unconditionally dedicated to this process. Kevin and Chris are not lying when they tell you that it will be hard work and that you will have to make a significant sacrifice in order to be successful in this program. You are going to work very, very hard. You should be prepared to allocate at least 60 hours of your time per week to the program. Expect to have daily meetings with your capstone peer and mentor and to fully immerse yourself. You will come out of it a changed person.
The program begins with a review and strengthening of your fundamentals - programming, problem solving, databases, algorithms, and general web development concepts. All of which is supplemented by an ongoing bookclub where you will have daily reading assignments and discuss/present your opinions on the assigned chapters each day. The books will introduce you to new concepts and importantly provide you with an opportunity to work on discussing your opinions across a range of material; excellent preparation for the interview process.
Quickly, you will move into daily pair programming with a capstone peer where you will review and dissect major open source applications together. You will also take ownership of reviewing discrete pieces of those applications and present your work during your daily meetings. Throughout this entire process, your mentor will be giving you constant realtime feedback and insight, helping solidify concepts and pushing you in the appropriate direction to accelerate your development.
Before you know it, you will be brainstorming with your peer and mentor regarding your capstone project. The process of coming up with ideas, settling on one, and then actually building something could be the whole program in-and-of-itself. You will pair program, work closely with your mentor, and put absolutely everything you have into it. You will live it and breathe it for several weeks. When it is ready, you will show it off. And it will blow people away. I cannot say enough about how well our capstone project was received by the community. It impressed even the most senior developers because it went so far beyond the typical “Yelp clone” project that would be expected of a bootcamp graduate and because it presented significant challenges at both the engineering and product management levels. It was our capstone project and presenting it at a meet up in NYC that raised the eyebrows of a senior developer at the company where I ultimately accepted a position.
With your capstone project completed you will move into the final phase of the program - interview prep and interviewing. In addition to pursuing any opportunities arising from your capstone project, you will select the companies you want to apply to and work with your mentor to strategize on how best to apply and who to apply to first. In parallel, you will drill hard in preparation for your technical interviews. Mock interviews and whiteboard sessions, code challenges, anything that may present itself during your technical interviews will be discussed and drilled on a daily basis so that you can go into those interviews confident and ready to further impress. At the end of the program your mentor will help you negotiate salary/compensation and weigh the pros and cons of any competing offers.
Throughout the process I attended several meet ups in the NYC area and had a chance to chat with several other students who were either currently taking courses with, or recent graduates of, other bootcamps. When I described LaunchSchool's curriculum and its Capstone Mentoring Program to them, the response was unanimous. They simply could not believe how much more in depth we go at every level. After being out in the community and speaking with several similarly-situated folks I can confidently say that this program is at the very top of the list. Make no mistake about it, this is where it’s at.
Your mentor is with you the entire way, from program kickoff to the signed offer. It will be bittersweet when you sign off of that last google hangouts session — but everyone signs off with a big smile and a feeling of true accomplishment. If you are serious about your engineering career, willing and able to put everything you have into the process and setting yourself up for success at the onset, I cannot recommend this process any more highly. What happens is nothing short of amazing.
I completed Launch School's Capstone Mentoring program with a job offer in hand last November. Launch School paved the way for me to save a significant amount of time in my education with software development. Before I go on to extoll the virtues of the program, let me tell you a little about me. I'm 30 years old and before Launch School my familiarization with computers was not much beyond Facebook and word processing. Launch School taught me everything from how to use the command line to OOP and far beyond. Launch School offers two main components: a supported self-paced online bootcamp, and a capstone mentoring arrangement (the Capstone Mentoring) where they help you bridge the gap to employment. It didn't take me long to appreciate the strength of their learning material and of their community (which includes very dedicated TAs who are easy to get a hold of).
But I'd rather talk about the thing that made the difference from mildly experienced beginner to employed with a junior position. This was going through the mentoring sessions with Kevin. He was with me every step of the way and remained devoted to my success and was flexible enough to accommodate my learning style and pacing. The meat of what we worked on, after brushing up the fundamentals, was a more significant Ruby project.
Throughout the process, Kevin showed incredible empathy, knowing when to kick my butt a little more and when to back off to give me a little space. At one point, he made the analogy to being a personal trainer. The image couldn't be more apt. After all, he spent relatively little time in the weeds with me, instead pointing me in the right direction to figure out technical details myself (isn't that was StackOverflow is for?) and kept a masterly handle on where I was, how I was progressing, and what should come next in the process. He knew when to dig in on a project and when to abandon ship and move on to something else. Let's face it, we're all human and fundamentally lazy so both a personal trainer and Kevin are there to keep us motivated. Working on code in a vacuum, alone in front of a computer, can be very lonely and indeed distressing. But when someone else is depending on you to get a job done, that extra bit of motivation helps with the worst moments of lethargy and resistance.
I couldn't recommend Launch School more highly to someone who wants to learn to code (and get a job at it!) but cannot do an in-person bootcamp for whatever reason. For some, Launch School may even be a superior learning environment compared to an in-person bootcamp. For me, it was the perfect mix of hands-on vs. freedom and hard pushing vs. giving time to breathe and consolidate knowledge. Lastly, Kevin is an incredibly congenial mentor and serves as a secure anchor in an otherwise very bumpy and uncertain ocean.
I studied Law and Economics and got a job in administration. I soon found out that this job wasn't for me and I found out that writing code was a lot of fun. Before joining Launch School I was learning web development on my own for 2 years. I went through courses and videos on Youtube, CodeSchool, TeamTreehouse, Lynda.com, etc.
I learned a lot but I lacked the fundamentals and problem solving skills that good employers are searching on the market. Launch School gave me a lot of knowledge on web development. We did a lot of coding challenges with the instructors and when I got my first job interview I was able to answer most of the technical questions and finish coding exercises they gave me.
Launch School also provides weekly live sessions. This is basically pair programming with an awesome programmers such as Chris or Kevin and what I've learned is that programmers are stuck with coding problem a lot more that I imagined. But when I took other online courses this was not obvious. Teachers were writing code without any mistakes and without searching the documentation on the web. At Launch School you will see the reality and the instructors will tell you the truth about learning to program.
If you would ask me what are the most important things to get from novice to job ready. I would say,
- Get great teachers
- Learn and practice on the fundamentals
- Read and write code every day
There are a lot of resources on the web to learn and practise coding. But getting great teachers that would help and guide you on your learning journey is probably the hardest thing to get on your own. You can get everything listed above and more at Launch School. All you need to do is devote your time and energy and learn every day for few hours.
I am grateful that Launch School exists. It helped a lot of people to get their dream jobs. I still can't believe that I went from a job that was basically shuffling papers to a job that lets me build an app for Olympic games.
I attended Tealeaf Academy and finished the three courses they offer teaching web development with Ruby and Rails.
When I started the course, I had no development experience. I wasn't even "technically savvy". I was looking to transition from a career in education as an English teacher. I am now a full-time software engineer.
The curriculum and support that Tealeaf provides can level up a hungry student's abilities very quickly. The courses are not easy, but if you are willing to work hard and put in the time, you will learn the skills of a professional web developer.
Their pricing is competitive and delivers a lot of value. Since the course is 100% online, you can finish the course on your own schedule from anywhere in the world.
The instructors are kind, personable, and talented teachers. There is round-the-clock support from teaching assistants located all over the globe.
If you're serious about learning web development with Ruby. I don't know of a better option than Tealeaf Academy.
My background: Computer Science degree, decent HTML knowledge, and had a little bit of experience learning Ruby and Rails on my own.
If you have a CS degree and want to be a Rails developer you will be a very legit developer if you make it through both Rails courses. The courses are not trivial. I worked about 3 hours a day on assignments 6 days a week for 6 and 8 week sessions.
After completing the courses and continuing to study and build a couple projects on my own I got a 75k job as a Rails developer at a startup. Then I was offered a 100K+ job at a very large company as a Ruby developer.
I cannot possibly recommend this program enough. If you don't want to work 3 hours a day you will not REALLY learn Rails. If you do want to work 3 solid hours a day (or more if you do not come from a CS background) then don't take classes.
If you make it through there is a pot of gold at the end. Work hard. The instruction is incredible and well focused. Very professional. I owe them a lot for getting me on the correct track rather than me trying to read 10 Rails books and try to cobble out a strategy. These guys know what they are doing and are incredible teachers.
My background is not in computer science. Before starting the Launch School curriculum, I had never even opened a text editor. Less than a year later, I've accepted a job at a fantastic company, making quite a bit more than what's average for juniors in my city. Do I think I could have learned web dev. on my own? Yes. Could I have been this succesful this quickly? Absolutely not.
I took advantage both of LS's self-paced courses and the Captstone Mentoring Program. The courses stress the fundamentals. Although the curriculum is Ruby-heavy, the emphasis is not on "learning Ruby," but learning how to solve problems with code, not just "learning Rails," but learning the concepts behind it and the habits of mind necessary to tackle the challenges that web dev. throws at you.
As happy as I was with the courses, the Capstone Program just blew me away. The amount of face time I was given with a senior dev. was outrageous. This is not an hour-a-week deal--I was on a Hangout talking programming, getting impromptu lectures, or pair programming with my mentor nearly every evening. My learning was guided: there was never a time when I didn't know what to do next or what to focus on. And I was pushed, pushed far harder than I'm likely to have pushed myself.
The result? I became not just someone who dabbled in code, but truly, a professional developer. I acquired the knowledge and skill necessary to succeed in the field. Companies agreed. I got several full length interviews and received job offers from all of them. I have so much to learn, but LS has put me on some seriously firm footing.
Don't get me wrong--the program is not magic. It's a LOT of work, but if you've got the aptitude, the work ethic, and the appetite for success, you can go far, fast in this program.
Our latest on Launch School
Matthew Barram had done some website development for his side-business, but had doubted his ability to be a full-time web developer. Based in Brisbane, Australia and too far from in-person developer bootcamps, Matthew decided on Tealeaf Academy, the online, mentored Ruby on Rails bootcamp. Find out what convinced Matthew of the Tealeaf approach, how Tealeaf manages to create a supportive cohort of students online, and how he landed a job as a developer at NetEngine.
What were you up to before you started Tealeaf?
Before and during the Tealeaf course I was doing project management work on big infrastructure projects. On the side I owned and recently sold a business called DoneItNow which does audio transcription.
I was exposed to software development through DoneItNow, having to develop the company website. I am passionate about making great solutions for people and so I decided I needed to learn how to code. Before this time I had doubted my abilities to be a developer and I wasn't confident that I could do it. This desire to solve problems took me to Tealeaf Academy.
Did you quit your job when you decided to do the Tealeaf course?
During the whole Tealeaf program I was working full time. It required a fair bit of dedication outside of my job, but it wasn't an issue and I was able to make it through.
Did you have any technical background before you decided to apply to Tealeaf?
I’d done a bunch of Codecademy and Code School courses beforehand. I enjoyed them but never felt like I learnt anything substantial from them. I had also project managed a few technical projects include a the development of an inhouse iPad app.
When did you do the bootcamp?
I started it in November 2013 and it took me 4 months.
What was your motivation for doing it?
Wanting to solve problems was the biggest one. I had things in my everyday life that I wanted to be able to do better and more efficiently. I also wanted to do something different and continue learning.
At the time I didn't even consider that I would end up working as a developer.
Is your plan to launch your own product eventually?
Yes. I’ve got a few products that I’m working on at the moment. Nothing particularly exciting- just solving problems that I have. They’re more like applications to continue my learning and to have fun with at the same time.
Once you decided you wanted to do a bootcamp, why did you decide to do an online program over an in-person boot camp?
I live in Brisbane, Australia. There are some bootcamps in Sydney, which is a much bigger city than Brisbane. I looked at those and they cost $12,000 to $15,000. But because I was working full time and didn't want to move I ruled them out as options. I also looked at Thinkful and Bloc. I selected Tealeaf because they focused on awesome content, hard work and support.
It was also easy to get started as the first course was only four weeks and a few hundred dollars. If I didn't like it I wouldn't have wasted lots of money and time. This was reassuring from an initial purchase perspective.
What was the application process like for you?
I had a bunch of questions I wanted answered from the Tealeaf team. As far as their standards go, they’re very clear that it’s not an easy program and is not designed for people who are doing it as a hobby. They’re doing it to educate people who want to get a job in the sector or develop their own product. It was clear from the outset to only apply if you’re serious.
I didn’t feel like the interview process was intimidating because students sign up and if it’s not right for them, they are free to leave at anytime.
Were you interacting with other students throughout the program?
Absolutely. It was an essential part of the program for me! I would have my chat window open and all the students would be in the chatroom. We would help each other out with questions and problems.
I’m quite good friends with a lot of the students in my cohort now. That was something I enjoyed about the course, the way that relationships between the students were formed. It made it easy to keep on track.
Were you working with a mentor or were you working one-on-one with an instructor?
We had several teachers throughout the program. All the teachers were super supportive and great to work with. I valued how all the instructors and teaching assistants took lots of time to make sure I understood the content on a deep level.
There were forums where I could ask a question in at anytime. I would get an answer really fast, which meant if I was stuck on Friday night I didn't have to wait until the following week to get support.
How personalized did you feel Tealeaf was to your needs? Did you feel that you could learn things that weren’t a part of the curriculum or did you all stick pretty closely to a curriculum?
I thought the course had a good mix of structure and flexibility. We would get a clear course outline of the things that we were going to learn and also the flexibility to learn about other things of interest. I remember we had did a bunch of sessions outside of the normal curriculum to show us how to build a web server from scratch. We asked for it and we got it, it was fantastic.
Why are the courses split into a Ruby course, a Sinatra course, and then a Rails course?
As someone who had very little programming experience, if I was to be thrown into Rails, it can look very much like “magic”. For example, I type one line and thousands of lines of code appear. I needed to understand what was happening before starting to use the “magic”
During the first two courses, you’re learning the foundations of how Rails actually works. It allowed me to have a different perspective on Rails when I actually got to it.
How long were you spending on Tealeaf each week on average?
I’d say between 20 and 30 hours a week on average, that was mainly in the evenings and on weekends.
My advice to other potential Tealeaf students when it gets hard, stick with it. It is worth it. For me, I just had to stick with it to come out the other side with the actual knowledge and understanding.
How did you stay on track?
It was the connections with the other students and having people that I could talk to and chat with. It reminded me that I’m not the only one going through this.
Tell us about what you’re doing now. Where are you working?
I work at a software solutions company called NetEngine. I work on a bunch of applications such as our team collaboration tool Trigger. We’re a small rails shop with a focus on quality and awesome solutions.
I enjoy getting to put into real life practice the skills and knowledge I learnt during the Tealeaf program. It is fun working with other developers (some a lot more experienced than me). They’re always helpful, always happy to answer questions. I think Tealeaf Academy set me up for that.
At Tealeaf they do everything as if it’s within a real company. They do things like sending pull requests and having experienced developers do code reviews. I use the same system of code review at work that we used during the Tealeaf program.
How did you get your job? Was it through Tealeaf?
One of the assignments was to go to a meetup. I didn’t want to go, but I forced myself to do it because it was part of my assignment. I met someone through there and before I knew it I was working as a developer.
Is there anything we didn’t touch on that you want to include about Tealeaf?
One of the things I really appreciated about Tealeaf how good it was for someone living outside the USA timezone. Being in Australia, even though my time-zone is completely different to the U.S. time zones, I was still able to get support anytime.
For people who aren’t in the U.S. or near an in-person bootcamp, an online one is probably the only option for a lot of people. For me, to get support in my time-zone is important, otherwise I’d be waiting 12 hours or more for a reply.
I think Tealeaf Academy is ideal for anyone serious about learning to code wherever they live in the world. It has helped me land a job doing what I love - coding and building applications.
Online, mentored coding bootcamps offer convenience and structure without forcing you to quit your job or move to a new city. But not all online programs were created equally, so which one is right for you? We'll learn from alumni at each online coding bootcamp, ready to answer your questions about their experience during class, how they found mentorship and community online, and how their careers have skyrocketed afterwards.Continue Reading →
Luke Tower graduated from Tealeaf Academy and shares a review of his experience with Course Report!
When I started Tealeaf Academy, I was planning a career change. As an English teacher with practically no experience programming, I had attempted some of the free online tutorials but completed them with no knowledge or understanding of what I was actually doing. Within the first two weeks of starting at Tealeaf, my learning was progressing at a rapid rate. I knew I had made the right choice. The Tealeaf Academy curriculum is rigorous, in-depth, and effective.
The instructors and teacher assistants at Tealeaf were available nearly 24 hours a day to answer any questions that I had. It was very common to receive a response to a question within an hour, if not minutes, of posting on the forums. The coursework focused deeply on only the most important topics. Their in-depth approach was much better than learning "a little bit of everything." Learning one thing very well is far more valuable in the work place.
Aside from the stellar content Tealeaf produced, the instructors were caring and dedicated individuals who possessed a passion for education. They were always open to discuss, through email or over the phone, career options or further development. I have never had anyone take more of an interest in my growth as a developer. They truly enjoy helping people and their kindness and honesty was refreshing.
I am happy to say that I am now a working Software Engineer and owe that reality to Tealeaf Academy. When I interviewed for my new position, the senior developers at the company were impressed with what I had accomplished through Tealeaf. Although my job brings new challenges, I feel well-prepared for my daily work and use the skills that I learned from Tealeaf constantly.
If you are a dedicated learner and are looking for the opportunity to work hard and learn the necessary skills to begin a career in web development, you will not find a better place to do that than with Tealeaf Academy. The flexibility of learning online matched with the superior educational content makes the value of their program unmatched in my eyes. I would recommend it before any of the in-person programs that are usually 5x the price.
I am deeply grateful for what Tealeaf has created and recommend it to any person that is looking to learn the necessary skills to becoming a professional web developer.
Jose Casanova graduated from Tealeaf Academy and shares a review of his experience with Course Report!
My only regret is that I did not sign up for Tealeaf sooner. I started off with only the first course and thought it was really good. I finished that course with a great understanding of Ruby and felt I can debug any Ruby issue. I ended up enrolling in the other two courses (I wish I did all three at the same time to save money) and they were exceptional. The course material is organized in a way for you to get a great understanding of Rails if you put in the time and effort. I was doing the unstructured courses/tutorials route (one month rails, hatl's rails tutorial, codeschool, lynda, books and the list goes on), but its nothing like having a group of experienced developers there to help you.
Whenever I ran into an issue during the course, and couldn't find the answer on Google, I knew that I was able to turn to the Tealeaf discussion board/mentors for help, which is nice because they don't solve the issue for you, but explain the ways to go about figuring out the answer. About a month after finishing the last course, I did my first hackathon and was in hot demand as a Rails developer. Not only did I build an idea that I've been wanting to build for some time, but built it within the 24 hour time window with all of the features that I wanted too! This was really amazing for me because I had been wanting to build that idea out for YEARS but never knew how. Tealeaf taught me how.
Anyways, not only did Tealeaf prepare me to be technically proficient for a Rails job, but also let me other non-technical aspects of working as a developer (type of job interviews, culture, etc). Its been less than a month since I finished the last course and I already got hired to be a developer-in-residence at a startup incubator! The best part? I wasn't actively looking for a job, but was sought out due to my online presence (Github) and the quality of code I produced for my Tealeaf projects.
Thank you Tealeaf!!
Tealeaf Academy is an online, Rails bootcamp that offers three robust courses in web development for students with varying levels of experience. We talk to Kevin Wang, a cofounder of Tealeaf, about what makes their online program effective and the types of students who excel in their courses.
How did Tealeaf start? What’s the story behind it?
We started about 2 years ago, before there were many coding bootcamps. My cofounder, Chris, and I just wanted to teach. We ran the first course in February 2012 under a different name - RailsTutors. We both came from a software development background. Chris went through a few senior technical roles before building and launching his own startup; I worked for one of the top Ruby shops in the world, after spending a few years building technical training solutions for IBM's Data Management division.
Take us through the curriculum. What will students master after going through your program?
We designed the curriculum to mirror the natural learning path for a junior developer. First, we guide our students to learn foundational skills and the basics of the Ruby programming language. You move on to learn a specific toolset- we focus on Ruby on Rails. Then, we take our students beyond this, to learn how to build a project. Learning to code is not enough, in our opinion. It’s about learning to be a programmer, solve complicated problems, and apply tools towards specific projects in a methodical way. That’s why we divided Tealeaf into three courses.
Our curriculum is designed to take our students beyond just a beginner level developer. The truth is, it is not so difficult to read a book, follow a tutorial, or launch a simple, toy app and become a beginner web developer. It is, however, very difficult to reach the next level of proficiency without professional working experience. Our program is designed to bridge that gap. We don’t want you to leave our program and still feel like a beginner; we want to take you far along enough and introduce you to the workflows, concepts, tools and best practices of experienced developers. Of course, you will need more practice to let things settle, but we will have expanded your horizon much broader than just learning a framework and building a simple prototype.
In fact, our graduates have told us that when they talk to graduates of other in-person bootcamp programs, they feel that they (our graduates) know much more and have much more confidence. We’ve had people who run consultancies, CTOs send their experienced developers to go through our 3rd course. As far as I know, nowhere else online can you find this type of non-beginner , profession level training program.
What are you looking for in potential students? Do students need to have a technical or programming background?
Our philosophy is that anyone who wants to learn to be a developer, we’re willing to teach them. But we tell our students that it won’t be easy and they have to work hard to become a professional-level developer. One of the goals of our first course is to show complete beginners how real programmers work and think, and solve problems systematically. It's not just introducing the programming syntax, but introducing a mindset and temperament.
So you never reject an applicant?
It’s not that we reject them, but we talk with each of them. We’re not a good fit for everyone, so we explain our structure, and our teaching philosophy. For some people, this is not the best fit, so we may suggest Bloc, Thinkful, or an in-person program.
What makes you different from Bloc & Thinkful?
The biggest difference is that we focus on depth. It’s very easy to become a beginner- there are a lot of materials out there, and it’s not too difficult for someone to use a tutorial or a book to build an application. But if you look at where companies are hiring, they’re looking for people with more experience. We take you further than any other bootcamp, which includes online and in-person programs. I’ve visited a lot of in-person bootcamps myself and we actually have many graduates from the in-person bootcamp, and they skip the first two courses and start in our 3rd course. Even after their weeks of training, they still haven’t gone deep enough. We want to take our students to an intermediate level, get them exposed to non-trivial problems and learn to build production quality applications.
Even though Tealeaf is online, is there any in-person aspect of the program?
We staff TAs, we have about 10-15, all over the world. In a week, we have five days of TA-led sessions, where our students can come in with questions and get help- we’re around to help them. We also have a running chatroom for quick help.
Do you have cohorts, or are your students all on their own track?
We have a prep course, which everyone has to take. It's fully supported by us, including live interactive sessions - we want to make sure our students are well prepared to go through our intensive program. There’s no time limit on that. Then, we have monthly start dates, and students can complete it at their own pace. The 3 courses are designed to take 4 weeks, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks to finish, respectively, but students are free to take longer time if necessary. We charge by courses, not time spent with us - our students pay us for specific goals, and we want to make sure we deliver values and match their expectations.
How many students have gone through Tealeaf?
That’s a hard question, because we now have three courses. We’ve probably had about 100 people go through all three courses, but some people do one or two courses.
Does Tealeaf offer a refund policy?
Yes, a full refund. For two reasons: first, our program may not be the best fit for everyone, so if someone realizes that, then we don’t want to take their money. They can take those funds and put them towards a better experience for them. We don’t do one-on-one tutoring, but someone might benefit more from that. Second, we want to take the pressure off of our students. If they commit, we’ll take them there, but we want to remove the risk.
How many of your students are outside of the US?
About half & half. We’re online, so we don’t push people away if they’re not in the US. Antarctica is the only continent we don’t have students in.
Does Tealeaf help graduates find jobs in tech once they've completed the program?
Chris and I have professional experience in the US, so our network and connections are most relevant to people in the US. We have used our connections and contacts to help students get an introduction, but because we have students from all over the world, we can't provide a guarantee. Also, we get a lot of professional developers,or existing Rails developers who are already employed. And we have companies who send their employees to be trained with us. We’re not purely a get-a-job school.
With in-person bootcamps, after you spend over $10,000 and take 3 months off of work, you’re probably going to be looking for a job, because that’s a huge investment. But we’re flexible, online, and more affordable, so we have a more diverse body of students with different goals.
If a student sticks to the schedule of the program, what is their time commitment?
It depends on the experience level. For a professional developer, maybe 15 hours/week. Someone with less experience could spend 20-30 hours/week.
After the California regulatory agency story came out, is Tealeaf concerned at all about becoming accredited as an online post secondary institution?
It doesn't impact us, so we're not concerned about it.