Learn to Code: How to Choose the Right Bootcamp

By: The SwitchUp Team
Last Updated: April 22, 2020

You've decided to learn to code. You can already see the outcomes - a new career, a higher salary, new skills...But there are so many programs and schools to choose from - how do you know which bootcamp is right for you?

No matter the focus, the core components that make the best programs stand out from the rest are consistent. Here is a list of 8 steps to help you choose a coding bootcamp.

  1. Set Your Goals
  2. First and foremost, it is important to begin by identifying what your goals are as you enter the research phase of your process. Sit down with yourself and ask why you want to learn to code.

    Do you want to:

    • Learn a specific programming language?
    • Expand your resume?
    • Land a high-paying job?
    • Switch careers?

    These are all very different reasons to invest in bootcamp programs. Some bootcamps are focused on job placement while others are targeted at university graduates looking to transition into more specific career tracks. Once you set your goals, you can narrow down the pool of bootcamps.

    You can search for bootcamps and read school summaries. Get a feel for the student body at different institutions and make sure their goals are aligned with yours.

  3. Contact the School
  4. Don't be afraid to call or email the school and ask a ton of questions. In order to determine if it will be a good fit for you, your learning style, and your goals, it's important to learn as much as you can about the school and get to know the people who work and teach there.

    Info sessions are also a fantastic way to get real insight into the school's passion, level of individualized attention and overall success.

    Attending an info session can:

    • Lead to connections with teachers, alumni and administrative staff
    • Give you the answers you need before you begin your application process
    • Clear up any discrepancies that might be unclear on the bootcamp website

    These sessions are both cost and risk-free. Plus, many schools offer them in an online format, so you can easily attend from anywhere! Attend one as a jumping off point. You have nothing to lose.

  5. Evaluate the Quality of Education
  6. In any field, a high-quality curriculum will balance structure and industry trends with enough flexibility to accommodate different learning styles and abilities. A strong curriculum sets students up for success and enables teachers to perform at a high level. Here are a few ways you can ensure a quality curriculum:

    • Take a look at the syllabus: The coding program syllabus reviews will give you insight into what you're learning, the pacing of the program, and whether or not it covers everything you feel you will need to learn.
    • Flexibility: Core skills are important for an institution to teach, but it is also imperative for them to operate with a flexible approach. Technology is constantly evolving. Is the curriculum keeping up?
    • Computer Science Fundamentals: In an effort to provide students with a more thorough background, many bootcamps now teach computer science fundamentals in addition to languages and frameworks. You'll want to consider if this approach is right for you.

  7. Check for Career Support and Mentorship
  8. Excellent career support is one of the best signs of a quality program. From one-on-one mentorship to job placement assistance, great schools are driven to help their grads succeed.

    Mentorship can actually make or break a bootcamp. By finding the right mentor, students can jumpstart new careers with the support they truly need to succeed. One-on-one mentorship and group-style mentorship are two different ways bootcamps provide these services.

    Ask yourself these questions when considering the career support of a program.

    Do they:

    • Pair you with a mentor that best fits your needs as a student?
    • Hold mock interviews to help you prepare for future professional experiences?
    • Support the building of your portfolio?
    • Provide office hours for questions and support?
    • Guarantee a quality job after graduation?

    Transparency is key when looking at job placement statistics. Make sure you ask not only if students are being placed in jobs after graduation, but also typical job titles and graduate salaries.

    When comparing job outcomes statistics, be sure to ask your school for a third-party verified outcomes report. These reports will give you a detailed breakdown about how a school reports and publishes outcomes.

    All of these details are fair considerations when comparing programs. Find your perfect blend of career support and mentorship by digging around their website or search for bootcamps here.

  9. Think About Location
  10. With thousands of bootcamps now operating worldwide, you might have the opportunity to move to a place you've never considered before. Or, if you want to stay local, you should research what skills are in demand in your city to improve your chances of finding a job.

    Is your desired location the comfort of your own home? Fret not! There are many online programs to choose from in the bootcamp industry including Flatiron, Thinkful and Bloc. Take a look at our list of the best online programs.

  11. Consider Your Financial Situation
  12. The cost of the bootcamp itself can also play a huge role in determining your perfect program. One of the greatest advantages of attending bootcamp instead of a university is the significantly lower cost. Bootcamps can have very low costs depending on their location, level of one-on-one support and a slew of other factors.

    However, a full-time program usually costs $5,000 - $15,000, so it's important to consider how much you can afford. If you can't afford tuition upfront, don't worry - bootcamps have begun offering a slew of ways to fund their education programs. Upfront payment often offers a discount, but tuition models such as Deferred Tuition and Income Share Agreements allow students to start paying the tuition after graduation or after they get a job.

    Alongside cost and payment options, there are a wide variety of scholarships now available to incoming bootcamp students. Scholarships categories now include much more than stellar grades. Diversity scholarships, scholarships for women, scholarships targeted at high-need students and other options have provided schools with a wide variety of ways to lend financial support.

    Our comprehensive list of scholarships can help you to jumpstart your search.

    Are you a veteran? Take a look at our list of scholarships aligned with GI Bill eligibility, offering specialized scholarships for those who have served or are currently serving.

  13. Read Student and Alumni Reviews
  14. Student and alumni reviews are one of the best indicators of what your experience will be like. It can help you understand the big picture, sometimes from the beginning of their research to a career after graduation, and provide valuable first-hand experience, taking you marketing materials or publicity.

    The reviews on SwitchUp include how programs helped students before, during and after their attendance. If you're curious about pre-work, info sessions, career services or even the application process, all of these details can be found on the alumni reviews page for each individual school.

  15. Get Matched
  16. Our get matched tool helps pair students with programs that are a good fit.

    Using this free resource we will:

    • Pair you with highly-rated programs (4+ stars)
    • Recommend a program that best fits your needs
    • Ensure that you start getting information about the industry and the programs within it

    We hope this comprehensive list has provided you with all of the answers you need to get started on this exciting journey.

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