Full Disclosure: I am currently a student at Flatiron Code School in SF, finishing my last week before graduation.
You have heard all of the great stories of coding bootcamps. "Come join our bootcamp and within a year you will have a high paying software developer job, no previous coding experience needed". This is usually how most bootcamps will sell the idea of bootcamps to prospective students. This sounds great, but how do I know which school to join? Will I be able to pass the course (or even get in) with no prior coding experience? How much will all this cost?
These are all questions I had when deciding to sign up for a coding bootcamp and in this blog I will detail some key things I learned during my research process and some questions you should be asking yourself.
Can you really get in and graduate from a coding bootcamp with no previous experience? The answer is highly unlikely. Almost all the students I have spoke with have at least learned some coding before applying to code school. But don't be too discouraged, there are some free coding websites that can get you up to speed before your application process.
When I first decided I wanted to get into a coding bootcamp over a year ago I had no previous coding skills whatsoever, not even HTML/CSS (don't worry I didn't know what that was either when I started). So to increase my coding knowledge base I used a combination of www.freecodecamp.com and a wonderful class from www.Udemy.com, "The Web Developer Bootcamp" by Colt Steele ($15.99). After about 9 months of learning code on my own I moved on to the next and most important phase, coding bootcamp research
There a ton of coding bootcamps out there. Some are great and others are not. Here are some important aspects of bootcamps you should be asking yourself.
There are a few things to consider before deciding whether to join an online or in person bootcamp:
Are there any in person bootcamps near you?
One of the major advantages of online bootcamps is they can be done from basically anywhere as long as you have a reliable internet connection and a computer. If there isn't a near by in person bootcamp and online bootcamp may be the way to go.
Are you extremely disciplined in your learning?
A disadvantage with online learning is it can be much easier to get distracted when you are attempting to learn from home. At an in person bootcamp there won't be loud roommates or a video game console available to prevent you from learning. Also it can be much easier to learn when you have people around to support you in person.
Do you want more one on one attention from your teachers?
Most online bootcamps will have a much larger student population and which will give you less time with your teacher. If you really feel like you needs lots of one on one time with your teachers you may want to consider doing an in person bootcamp
Generally bootcamps can be pretty expensive so it is important to research how much money you are willing to spend. Most in person bootcamps are between $20,000 - $30,000 for tuition alone(at least in the Bay Area). You also have to factor in the cost of commuting (for in person) and not working during the time you attend your bootcamp. If you don't have that kind of money some bootcamps will offer you a deferred payment program where you don't pay your tuition until after you get a job in which they take a percentage of money out of your paycheck
How often are bootcamp grads getting jobs within a year of graduation. This can be tricky because this information can be hard to find. As a general rule never trust what the bootcamps have posted on their website as accurate job placement rates. Instead do your best to find schools that have had their job placement rates independently calculated or verified. I have researched many schools that sell a 80% job placement rate that in actuality have a significantly lower rate when independently calculated.
Most coding bootcamps will have some sort of test or project due to access how well you are learning what they are teaching you. Find out if you are allowed to fail a test and how happens if you fail multiple tests. Some coding bootcamps have a policy that if you fail 2 tests they kick you out and you don't get a refund. While other may simply may you retake a section of the course before advancing.
www.Coursereport.com is an excellent resource I used that compiles reviews from alumni. It also will give you info on school location, cost, length, and what courses they offer.
Once you sign up for a coding bootcamp most will have the following acceptance process
This is usually a relaxed over the phone interview to find out why you want to join a bootcamp and answer any questions.
Next the bootcamp will give you 1-2 months worth of coursework prior to bootcamp. This is to teach you basic concepts prior to your test to get in(if they have one).
This is a test to determine the school feels confident that you have the skills to be successful in their program. Some schools have a coding challenge where you have timed problems to solve using your computer. Other schools have a much more difficult white board challenge where you need to solve problems using only a whiteboard.
After taking the test you are usually told within 24 if you have been accepted or not.
Hopefully I have provided you with some important information on your coding bootcamp journey. If you have any questions or feel I left anything feel free to leave a comment.