The Firehose Project
The Firehose Project is a full-time, 22-week and part-time, 42-week online coding bootcamp that combines expert one-on-one training with a customized, robust curriculum and a worldwide student support community. Students start coding on day one and are paired with a senior software engineer mentor to build their coding skills. Students also have access to a proprietary Q&A forum and technical office hours. Graduates will develop algorithms, design complex data structures, and learn fundamental computer science principles while building a portfolio of advanced web applications that work with APIs, user authentication, advanced database relationships, video streaming, and more.
Firehose has also launched a new job track designed to prepare students with everything they need to optimize their job search as a new developer and make their transition from bootcamp graduate to employed developer as smooth and swift as possible. Firehose worked with technical recruiters, alumni, senior developers, and partnered with BrandYourself, the leader in online reputation management as seen on Shark Tank, to engineer a track that provides students with optimal job preparation resources.
Recent The Firehose Project News
- Alumni Spotlight: Noah Finberg of The Firehose Project
- December 2016 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
- These 10 Founders All Started at Coding Bootcamps
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The Firehose Project Reviews
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Our latest on The Firehose Project
As a college sophomore, Noah came up with a great idea for a tech startup. But when he wasn’t learning enough practical skills in his Computer Science degree to build his idea into a product, Noah enrolled in The Firehose Project, an online coding bootcamp. Noah tells us about the differences between CS classes and a bootcamp, how he customized the bootcamp to fit his needs, and how he learned to collaborate with other developers online. Three years later, using his tech skills and ongoing mentorship from The Firehose Project, Noah launched his startup, Considdr!
What is your pre-bootcamp story? Why study computer science and then go to a bootcamp?
At college I studied government and economics before switching to computer science. When I was a sophomore, my experience in college inspired the idea for my startup, Considdr. I wanted a place to store the information I was consuming so that I would be able to reference it later, and share it with other people. The reason I switched to computer science was because I wanted to pursue this startup idea.
I learned a lot in college about computer science theory, but applying it in a practical sense was something that I felt was missing. I wasn't able to see how the theory translated into building products or web applications. To fill that gap, in the summer before my senior year and with one year of computer science under my belt, I attended The Firehose Project.
Why did you choose The Firehose Project over other online coding bootcamps?
I chose the Firehose Project because I was looking for something practical and applicable in a very hands-on, real-world sense. The Firehose Project really spoke to me because they teach you everything you need to know to build your own applications. More than that, they give you the tools to find the resources to continue with that learning.
I read reviews, and looked at Thinkful and Bloc as well. What stood out to me about The Firehose Project were Ken Mazaika and Marco Morawec, the two co-founders. They held video introductions with me, they were really friendly, and seemed to really care about their students. That was a big deal for me – I wanted open communication with the people who ran the program.
The other big benefit was how customizable the program was at The Firehose Project. When I did the bootcamp, they had two paths: an entrepreneurial path and a job preparation path. I chose the entrepreneurial path and customized my learning along with my mentor. I knew that I really wanted a flexible bootcamp; The Firehose Project gives you a really good foundation, a mentor, all sorts of support, and flexibility.
How rigorous was The Firehose Project admission process? Was it hard to get in?
In the admissions process, they really want to know that you're serious about your learning, and that was the metric they used to judge applicants. The Firehose Project provided a free pre-bootcamp course to dip your toes in and understand if the course will work for you.
The team then asks you to complete some assignments to show that you're genuinely interested in and committed to learning. If the bootcamp is giving you their time, they want you to take it seriously.
The process worked well for me, and it didn't feel like a harsh interview or a huge application. You have to demonstrate that you're serious about it.
What was the time commitment for learning at The Firehose Project? Did you learn full-time or part-time?
You can go at your own pace. There are different units that walk you through building out different apps and it gets increasingly complex over time. I was doing the course mostly full-time, but I know that some of the other students that I worked with were doing it part-time and at night. I think it can work really well in both situations because it's so flexible. I graduated from The Firehose Project in 16 weeks. I was really obsessed and I liked going through it so I went through modules back-to-back – they're actually fun!
How did you actually learn throughout The Firehose Project? Were you paired with a mentor?
Students get one mentor session each week, and mentors are very generous with their time. I finished the modules really quickly and then was able to still learn more with the additional learning resources available.
Mentors help you work through your own projects and you can make them as complex as you want. That flexibility was huge for me. They give you a ton of course material, and if you end up being obsessed with it like I was, you still have a number of weeks left to continue your learning with a mentor.
What's an example of an application you built during the course?
When comparing your four-year college computer science experience to learning at a bootcamp, what stood out to you?
There's extreme value in both approaches, but they're different.
One big advantage of the bootcamp is it’s really project-focused, super individualized. In college, we learned a lot and covered a lot, but it was mostly lecture-based. There are some projects, but you're in a class with a lot of students.
In college, you don't have a one-on-one mentor to help you. I had amazing professors in college who did great work and helped me learn a lot. But in the bootcamp model, my mentor, Matt, spent so much time with me when I had issues, and answered all of my questions. He has a lot of industry experience so he helped me think about how to scale up my product. It was helpful to work with someone who's doing this every day in a real-world setting. Firehose Project mentors have a lot of practical knowledge – I felt like that really changed the game for me.
Did you communicate or work with other Firehose Project students in the course?
I was actually placed on a team project because I finished the module quickly. Working in a team setting with my peers was really cool. I met three or four other students and we worked on a collaborative project creating a chess game app. We learned about Git, how to resolve issues with other developers when we're coding the same files, and how to coordinate with a team, which was really valuable.
Ken, The Firehose Project CTO, was in pretty much all of our group courses. It was amazing how much time he put in working with the students. We all had our own mentors, but he was really involved.
How did The Firehose Project prepare students for the workforce or help you become entrepreneurs?
The program has grown a lot since I left, but Firehose makes career prep a priority. It was a very practical course, but they made sure that students had the computer science fundamentals that they would need if they were to apply for a job. Firehose gave good advice on the technical interviews – they have really cool segments on data structures and algorithms, and I would’ve been well-prepared had I interviewed for web development positions at other companies.
Tell us about your company! What is Considdr?
Considdr is a crowdsourced research and reasoning platform. It gives people the tools to take notes on what they're reading, save those notes, and then use those notes to form opinions on different topics. You can also use other people's notes, so it's really collaborative research.
Did you work on Considdr, while at The Firehose Project?
No, I wasn't working on Considdr at The Firehose Project. I was thinking about it, and how I might apply the projects at Firehose when I did want to start writing the code for Considdr. I was nervous about sharing my idea with people at that stage, so I did it in secret until I was ready to build it. I actually didn’t start writing the code for Considdr until about a month after The Firehose Project.
What technologies did you learn from The Firehose Project that helped you build Considdr?
It's really been a team effort, but what I took away from Firehose was pivotal. Considdr is built on Rails and we use JQuery – both of which I learned at Firehose. Our front end is different – we don't use Twitter Bootstrap, but we use another framework called Semantic-UI.
My company wouldn't exist if I hadn't done Firehose Project, because I wouldn't have learned what I needed to build the prototype, which is how I recruited my team. If I wasn’t working on Considdr, I don't know what I would be doing honestly. The Firehose Project changed my life in a lot of ways.
When I first recruited my team, none of them actually knew web development (they were CS grads I had gone to college with), so I used what I learned from The Firehose Project to teach them Rails and other tools. The way the material was presented in the program was so clear that it made it easy to teach to others.
Did you ever reach out to your mentor at The Firehose Project for help with Considdr?
I did! I reached back out to my mentor Matt, and Ken, the CTO, and asked for advice. Matt actually got on the phone with me for more than an hour to discuss the prototype. It was just awesome that the program was over, but they clearly still cared about me and cared about what I was doing. The fact that my mentor wasn't getting paid to talk to me, a year after the program ended, is amazing.
To this day, I'm still in contact with Matt and Ken. I'll email them and ask for advice like, "we're trying to set up a development procedure in pipelines so that we can test our code effectively; what have you done and what's your advice?" And both of them email back on the same day, answering my questions. This kind of support makes me feel like I made good choice, because beyond the program, Firehose is willing to help you with your next endeavors. The team has built a unique culture.
Are you still coding day-to-day?
I'm coding for a third of my time. I was coding a lot more in the beginning, but our product is in a pretty stable place, so now I'm focused more on growth and raising another round of funding. We're lucky to have a team, so I don't have to do all the coding.
What has been your biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to learn to code?
At first, learning to code was pretty daunting and intimidating because it felt like I was trying to do something really big, but I had the sense that I didn’t really know what I was doing. And I still feel that sometimes. I think the hardest part was that it took a while to realize there's nothing magical about coding.
At first, coding feels like totally foreign language and you think, “How can people build these really cool, really crazy web applications?" But as you get through a course and get over that psychological block, you realize that learning to code gives you the fundamentals, and then you continue to learn as you go.
Have you kept in touch with any of the other alumni or current Firehose Project students?
Not yet, but they have a Slack channel where alumni and current students communicate. I just joined that because I would really like to get more involved with the fellows. I'd be happy to answer questions from students about the experience and I'm curious to hear how things are going.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking about attending coding bootcamp and launching their own startup?
A bootcamp can make a really big difference in getting those practical coding skills. At a coding bootcamp, they really teach what you need to accomplish a set task. You don’t get that from a lot of other places.
If you want to start a company, you need to break down the development process into a lot of really small pieces. At Firehose, they taught us that you can learn everything, just a little bit at a time, and over time, you create a valuable knowledge base.
The hardest thing is just going for it and really committing yourself to learn. Commit yourself wholly, and recognize that anyone can do a bootcamp and learn how to code.
Welcome to our last monthly coding bootcamp news roundup of 2016! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends we’re talking about in the office. This December, we heard about a bootcamp scholarship from Uber, employers who are happily hiring bootcamp grads, investments from New York State and a Tokyo-based staffing firm, diversity in tech, and as usual, new coding schools, courses, and campuses!Continue Reading →
There are many reasons to attend a bootcamp- maybe you’re ready to take the plunge into a coding career or you want to update your current programming skills. Or maybe you’re part of a rising generation of aspiring technical founders and you’re ready to launch your own startup…you just need tech skills. Should you go to a coding bootcamp to start a company? Many bootcamp alumni are enjoying the fruits of their intensive bootcamp labor by choosing the path of entrepreneurship and launching their own app or website. In fact, Course Report’s latest outcomes and demographics study found that 4.3% of bootcampers attend to learn the skills necessary to start their own company. Our team loves an inspiring success story, so we’re highlighting those bootcampers who took the road less traveled, and managed to strike it big.Continue Reading →
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Ilya studied computer science and went into product management before deciding to make the switch to become a professional web developer. He recently completed theFirehoseProject - a mentor driven online coding bootcamp. Shortly after completing theFirehoseProject, Ilya received multiple job offers from Startups and Tech Companies, and ultimately decided to join EnerNOC, a global energy intelligence company, as a Ruby on Rails Developer. We talked to Ilya about his CS background, his experience at theFirehoseProject, and his reasons for changing tracks in his career.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at Firehose. Were you working or doing any kind of programming?
I actually studied Computer Science but I’d never programmed or touched any code before theFirehoseProject. People from the U.S. who studied computer science might be surprised by the idea that you can go through a whole specialized program in Computer Science without writing more than 20 lines of code. But that’s what happened to me.
I actually hear similar things from Computer Science grads in the US!
Exactly. You learn things about the software development process and theory, but you don’t actually learn how to code in a project and build real products.
During my studies, I wasn’t that interested in coding. I was working with young people in the community doing everything but my studies. Nevertheless I graduated and felt the need to get back into tech. I started out as a Product Manager and joined a startup here in Munich where you can book doctors’ appointments, tables at a restaurant, hairdressers; anything. They went to become the goto tool for small businesses in Germany and Europe.
Were you still working in that startup as a product manager when you were doing Firehose project?
During my two years at the startup I was working very closely with Ruby developers, but never touching any code. I got the itch and wanted to become a professional web developer as well. So I saved up a little bit of money, talked to theFirehoseProject team and quit at the end of July so I could start to drink-from-the-firehose in the last week of July.
Was your motivation for doing Firehose to get a job as a Ruby developer once you were finished or was it to create your own product?
I was pretty open-minded about what would happen. I was sure that I needed these kinds of skills no matter what I might do in the future. I imagined two paths: to continue working as a product manager but in a more technical capacity or to find work as a developer. I wasn’t sure which path I would choose until the end of the program when I started my job search.
Did you figure out what you wanted to do by the end of Firehose?
Absolutely, yes! I wrote so much code and built multiple web applications that the decision was very easy: land a job as a developer!
Why did you decide to do an online program instead of an in-person one?
Mostly because there aren’t as many great coding bootcamps in Europe, in Germany especially. Also the opportunity cost of moving to a new city and paying rent, on top of three times the tuition costs, made the decision to go with an online coding bootcamp relatively easy. In-person courses are really expensive from what I found. Hack Reactor is close to $20,000! Of course, coding in the same room with other people 6 days a week for 12 hours would have been amazing, but that was a bit outside my scope.
Did you look at any other online bootcamps other than Firehose? Why did you choose Firehose?
I was considering Bloc pretty seriously and looked into them closely. Ultimately I was convinced by the personal connection and mentor quality at theFirehoseProject. Bloc has a great outreach and marketing team; they sent these beautifully-designed newsletters and hosted webinars etc., but I was really missing the personal touch in their curriculum.
With Firehose, I just registered and Marco invited me to a Google Hangout and explained how their program works and what is expected of me - it was very, very personal and I liked it.
What was the application process like for you?
They want to hear about your goals to make sure they can help you reach them. They also require you to submit some code before you’re accepted into the program. They have a coding bootcamp preparation course that people without good coding samples have to complete. From their and my own perspective it makes a lot of sense to prepare for a coding bootcamp so you can maximize your learning while having access to your coding mentors.
How much did it cost?
So once you registered, did they match you with a mentor?
Yes, since my goal was to find a job as a technical product manager or web developer, I was matched with my mentor Ken, who hired dozens of people to his own technical team before. They Firehose team is really selective about who can mentor their students, and the new mentors that they recently brought on are all senior web developers at PayPal and TechStars companies, or held senior developer positions at Flickr and bit.ly.
Were there time zone issues since your mentor was in the U.S?
Not really. Ken is based in Boston. You have to think about it and consider it, but it worked really good for us. We did our meetings during my evenings and his afternoons. I didn’t have any time constraints because I was going through Firehose fulltime.
Some of their other students worked full-time jobs while going through theFirehoseProject and they had to make sure they fit all their coursework into their schedule. But obviously that worked for those students as well, since one of them landed a new tech job during the Firehose program.
How did you and Ken communicate?
Q&A forum, email and Google Hangouts for mentor sessions and office hours.
Was there a set curriculum that you were going through on your own and then asking Ken questions? How did it work logistically?
The program consists of three web applications that increase in complexity. Each web application included new technologies that you need to learn so you can ship them live.
You also learn how to write really good Ruby code by solving real world coding challenges that you can expect to be asked during any technical interview for a developer job.
During the last four weeks I worked on a group project to get the real world experience of how great software is build by teams in a collaborative coding process.
The whole program is very flexible and self-paced, while working together with your personal coding mentor. We also had weekly office hours and group project meetings.
Were those weekly office hours done with other students?
Yes, their weekly office hours is a time where all the students come together and everyone can see their code, what troubles their running into and how the mentors troubleshoot any issues. The office hours are really helpful and I really enjoyed them.
Did you feel Firehose was personalized to what you needed or wanted to learn?
For sure. Every question I had was personalized. I wanted to dig deeper into test driven development, and my mentor was really flexible and taught me a lot of additional skills outside of the core curriculum.
For example, during the last month we focused on job interview preparation; Ken helped me design my resume and optimize it for development jobs. We went through a few mock interviews where he’d ask me questions so I could really prepare for the real interviews.
I also had to complete six coding challenges that are very likely to get asked during a web developer job interview. My mentor helped me go through the code and we practiced the solutions together.
You mentioned that you did three projects throughout. Were those assigned projects or were they projects that you came up with?
It’s a part of their core curriculum every student completes three web applications that increase in complexity and get pretty challenging.
During the last four weeks of the program I was also part of a group project. It’s 3-4 students and one of the code mentors is the technical lead. The group project is designed to make you learn how software is built in the real world: you have somebody telling your team what to build, maybe give you some wireframes and then the group has to break apart all the features into technical steps and start implementing them.
This was a different experience than simply coding by myself. We had to use GitHub like it is used in the real world when teams work together, fix code conflicts and always make sure that nobody is blocking somebody else on the team. Besides our personal code mentor, we also had one code mentor guiding us through the whole group project.
The project I built with my team is a platform where new developers can prepare themselves for technical interviews.
How did that logistically work, to work with a group?
It’s just like in the real world. We had weekly check-ins and we discussed next steps and things we need to do. We delegated tasks to be done by the next meeting.
That’s nice because it’s kind of like learning how to do remote work.
This taught us how to work remotely and also, to work as a team, which is really important as a developer. Teamwork is so different from working alone. You have to be in-tune with the work that your team members are doing so that you don’t destroy someone else’s work or stand in the way.
How many hours were you spending on Firehose each week?
Probably 30 hours a week. I wanted to finish the program strong and learn web development, but I also enjoyed a few weeks where I was going at a slower pace.
What did your mentor do in that last month to help with job preparation?
We revised my resume; it was a good “project management resume” but a pretty bad “developer resume.” My mentor really coached me on what and how to talk about my experience in the interview.
What are you up to now? Did you get a new job?
Yeah. I received multiple job offers after the program and actually started my new job last Monday. I’m a Ruby Developer for EnerNOC, a global energy intelligence company. Currently I’m developing a tool for analysts and operators who manage the switching and bidding on the energy market.
Are you working in Germany?
Yes, I work out of their office in Munich. There was a startup here in Munich doing something similar and EnerNOC acquired them this February.
How large is the dev team that you work with?
There are two other developers who hand over the work to me, before they leave at the end of December. We currently looking for another developer to work together with me.
Do you feel like you are at that level? Do you feel comfortable with that?
It’s pretty challenging. I think that it’s the best way to learn. f you’re new, then you often don’t know what you don’t know, but I love the challenge.
Is there anything else you wanted to add about Firehose or your experience?
I would totally recommend theFirehoseProject to everyone considering and online web development bootcamp.
Ken and Marco are running a top-notch program that attracts amazing mentors, while keeping a very personal touch. I’m sure they will continue to grow and go out of their way to help you have a great experience.
Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
The Firehose Project is an immersive online apprenticeship that teaches students of varying backgrounds to be web developers or launch their own products. While the curriculum is based in Ruby on Rails, mentors identify their mentees needs immediately and customize a learning plan for each student. We chat with Marco Morawec, founder of The Firehose Project, about their team of mentors, how they're supporting students in their journey to code, and the commitment required by students of the program.
What does the team at Firehose Project look like?
We’re 2 founders and about half a dozen code mentors that are helping us. Everyone on our team can code and we’re hand-picking every single mentor to make sure they have the relevant combination of technical and teaching skills.
Tell us about your background and how you got involved with the Firehose project?
My background is in web development and UX product manager. Before teaching people how to code I consulted Fortune 500 companies like P&G and John Deere and won Boston's biggest Hackathon (Angelhack). Most recently I led the user experience for peerTransfer, building a 1 Billion dollar a year international tuition payment platform. Before all that, I was carrying nothing more than a backpack and travelled around the world on $25/day for an entire year.
theFirehoseProject really started after I teamed up with my good friend Ken Mazaika, who was a tech lead at Where.com before it got acquired by PayPal, and we taught hundreds of students at places like Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Brown and the University of Hawaii how to code and use the same tools as the best startups in the country. After seeing how our different approach to teaching allowed so many students achieve amazing results in a short period of time it made sense to bring our “firehose” approach to teaching tech online, so we can reach more students.
When did the first cohort of the Firehose Project online course start?
The first students started using our online guides to build real-world web applications in August 2013 and the first 12 week cohort of theFirehoseProject started early in 2014.
The classes start every Monday, right? Do you organize people into cohorts? Are they interacting with each other online or are they only interacting with their mentor?
New students start every Monday and during the first few weeks they focus on building two fully functional web applications with the help of their mentor.
After the first few weeks of the apprenticeship, we start to custom-tailor our curriculum so students will be able to achieve their individual goals. For example, students with the goal of finding a job as a web developer, are paired with other students to collaborate and launch a real web application that solves an actual problem or need. Just like in the real world of being a web developer, students get specific wireframes and product specifications and write and review code in a team environment, guided by their individual mentor and team leader.
We found that students who can point to their collaborative coding project and understand how to thrive in a team based environment, using the same code collaboration tools as real startups, have a huge advantage in landing a job, over students who only code by themselves or together with their mentor.
So our students are treated like junior web developers very early on in our program and don’t have to wait until they hold that job title to experience what it is like as a junior web developer.
Does everybody who applies get accepted? Is there an interview process at all?
Me or another code mentor talk to every single student before they’re accepted into the program. We’re looking for motivation to learn in our students and make sure they’re a great fit to work on team projects.
After teaching hundreds of students with no prior coding experience how to build and launch web applications, we know we can teach anyone. But we really want to make sure that you’re motivated to learn and have a concrete goal that you want to achieve, be it landing a job as a web developer or launching your own startup idea.
What types of students have you seen do really well in Firehose and what kind of students don’t necessarily excel in that environment?
We've found all of our students are able to excel in our program. Mostly, that has to do with the fact that we’re looking for students who have a particular goal that they want to achieve - like launching their own startup or getting a job as a web developer - and then custom tailor our curriculum around each student’s goal.
How is the curriculum designed? Do you have unique content for your curriculum or do you pick and choose curated lessons from the web?
We developed 100% of our curriculum in house. In fact, our curriculum is constantly updated and improved. By updating our curriculum on an almost daily basis, we can make sure we consistently offer a better learning experience and keep up with the latest technology.
One place that enabled us to create the perfect core curriculum was our Q&A forum that helps students get unstuck within the hour. In the early days, our entire team was basically “why did 3 students ask the same question on lesson 31 about 5 minutes ago? Let’s fix that”. After hundreds of improvements and countless hours of work we finally nailed down the perfect curriculum for our students.
Are you focusing on a particular technology?
Who are your mentors? What are you looking for in a mentor and what’s the process to become a mentor?
To be a mentor at theFirehoseProject you need to have teaching experience and be able to explain a complex web development concept to a classroom full of beginners. Then you also need to be a great developer, know your coding game inside out and actively help people in the Q&A forum and consistently improve theFirehoseProject curriculum.
We have a big coding event at Harvard coming up soon, so we definitely taking a group of our mentors into the classroom again.
Has anyone who’s gotten a job after doing Firehose or actually launched their own product?
Yes, we have multiple students who’ve gotten a job after they graduated, in fact one student just received a job offer half-way through our program, accepted the job and now continues to code together with the other students on his Firehose team project in the evenings.
Another student built an on-demand marijuana delivery platform, pretty much like Uber for marijuana. He’s launching this fall in several cities and is working on his delivery startup full-time.
Have you had students who are being sponsored by their companies?
Absolutely. We’ve had that happen before, especially for students who go through our program while holding a full-time job.
How many hours a week do you estimate that it takes students?
The minimum amount time that we require students to dedicate to coding is 15 hours per week. With 15 hours per week you’ll be able to progress at a good speed and finish strong.
That said, we have many students who are putting in 40-50 hours per week into the program and obviously those students are taking more knowledge and skills out of it.
Whether you put in 15 or 50 hours, we always keep your learning curve steep and make sure we adjust our curriculum to your personal goals and what you want to get out of the program.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn’t touch on about Firehose?
One of the most common reason why people come to us, is because we’re the very opposite of all the other “cookie cutter” curriculums out there.
At theFirehoseProject all of our students are part of the team and are treated like junior web developers while they go through their customized curriculum together with our mentors.
Want to learn more about The Firehose Project? Check out their School Page on Course Report or their website here!
Welcome to the August News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →