March 20, 2020

How To Choose a University Coding Bootcamp

Overview

The first coding bootcamp was started in response to a growing skills gap: employers could not find enough candidates with the right skill set, and college grads felt unprepared for the tech economy. Flash forward to a few years later, and coding bootcamps are working so well that many colleges and universities are taking notice - and even offering bootcamps of their own.

University coding bootcamps can take a variety of forms, but most often they are a partnership between a university and an existing bootcamp.

One example is the University of Utah, which has partnered with Utah-based bootcamp DevPoint Labs for their 9-week program. Co-founder Nhi Doan explains that the U of U partnership is a win-win: The bootcamp uses DevPoint Labs' curriculum, but also gives students access to the University's career services.

As Nhi explains, "Students can rest assured that they are investing in a coding bootcamp program that is backed by the largest provider of higher education in the state. DPL is the first coding bootcamp in the state and already one of the top providers of coding bootcamp in the nation and state, now partnered with the U. This makes for an outstanding accelerated learning program for technology."


Why A University Bootcamp?

An effective university bootcamp leverages both a bootcamp's innovative structure and the institutional benefits of a university. We've found that many university bootcamp students benefit from the following:

A Tested Curriculum and Experienced Staff:

The program curriculum is one area where the combined expertise of the bootcamp and university is a huge value-add for students. If a university is partnering with an existing bootcamp, the university will often use the bootcamp's curriculum and provide extra guidance to make sure the course is relevant to the local job market.

Similarly, both entities will work together to find the best staff. The program may hire professors straight from the program, or use they'll use the university's application process to hire staff.

University Job Support:

This is where a University's prestige and network becomes a huge help for students. Although many bootcamps have built excellent career service programs, it is difficult to beat the network of an established university. Many university/bootcamp partnerships will work together to leverage both university and bootcamp career services.

Name Recognition and Network:

A big challenge for top bootcamps is the fact that, unlike top universities, they are often not immediately recognized for providing a quality education. This is starting to change as the bootcamp space grows, but for the time being there is a huge benefit to combining the skills-based education of a bootcamp with a recognizable university name.

If you are planning to job search locally, this is especially important. A respected local university on your resume might be a huge help to getting your foot in the door, or gaining the attention of local alumni.

Accreditation:

Most coding bootcamps do not receive accreditation like traditional colleges and universities, though many are regulated by the laws of their state. For students, attending a bootcamp that is affiliated with an accredited university brings extra peace of mind. Jonathan Lue, an instructor of software development at the Austin Community College bootcamp explains:

"ACC is an accredited college, and I believe that's important for many students. They want to attend an established institution with a history of providing quality education, and they also gain access to all the benefits and resources that are available to ACC students. When you combine that with the lower cost tuition as well a staff developed curriculum, you can see how ACC offers the best value for a coding bootcamp experience."

Accreditation varies among university bootcamps, so be sure to ask how the university's accreditation affects the program.


How To Research a University Bootcamp:

We suggest you start your research into a university bootcamp the same way that you would typically research a bootcamp. Make sure that you have a good understanding of the curriculum, teachers, and job support. Be sure utilize a site like SwitchUp to get student feedback and read through reviews.

Before you commit, you'll want to clarify a few things with the prospective program. Be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Curriculum: How was the curriculum designed? Was the curriculum adapted straight from the bootcamp, or did the university have a hand in curriculum design?
  • Teachers: Does the program hire teachers from the university, the bootcamp, or some combination of the two?
  • Job Support: What does job support look like? Will I have access to the University's career services?
  • Outcomes:What percentage of grads land jobs in their field? What is a graduate's average salary?

Complete List: University Bootcamps

To begin your research, check out the complete list of university bootcamps and head to the school's switchup page for more information:

Be sure to also take advantage of SwitchUp resources like the forum to connect with schools and ask questions.

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