As for the on-campus curriculum, it’s pretty solid – I only wish we had learned more but in order for that to have truly of happened the entire program would have to be maybe 2 weeks longer – which is something they should seriously consider. You have 6 weeks of learning, each week a new topic. In my cohort it was, IIRC – React, Advanced OOP, Databases, Rails, HTTP and General Front End. The front-end week was kind of useless since they just skimmed over a crap load of material about design and typography and the like. Those topics are so dense, to give them such a superficial treatment was pointless. The time that week would have been better served expanding on existing material.
This is followed by 2 weeks of group projects, which was an amazing eye-opening experience and then 2 more weeks of solo projects, which is very stressful but you will overcome. Again, the curriculum is on point and I learned WAY more than I thought I would. It moves fast and feels overwhelming for the majority of the program but that will soon feel natural and you will sink into a rhythm and get into the zone by the end of the first week.
The entire staff is committed to evangelizing the gospel of social justice. Now, I’m all for equality and I’d like to think I’m very open minded and tolerant but I didn’t pay $15,500 to be lectured about how, because I am a man, I need to censor myself around women. I also did not pay $15,500 to be lectured about how awful Donald Trump is. I am not a political person, I do not care. Leave politics and social justice out of the classroom and teach me how to code. The staff we’re routinely injecting politics into the cohort for no reason. It came off as cringe worthy at times and always forced. Like I said, this is a coding bootcamp, not capitol hill.
On two separate occasions, they sat us all down and gave a lecture on ‘Mansplaining’, I actually didn’t even know what this was when they brought it up, I had never heard of it before. They said that someone made a rude and insensitive comment, but they would neither repeat what was said nor would they be speaking with the individual in question. They actually ended up saying that, if what we can’t tell you was said, is said again then you will be expelled. What? None of us even know what they were referring to, not even remotely. This caused a lot of self-censorship and bewilderment. They ended it by telling all the men in attendance to be cautious of how they talk, because, and I quote “Men have a tendency to talk down to women and assume they know more by virtue of being a man”. Nice. Where I come from, assuming bias based on external and immutable features of a human is what is commonly referred to as bigotry. Not to these people, it’s called social justice.
Secondly, while having a spirited debate on the Launch Academy Slack channel about the issue of women in the STEM field, D.T. – the Vice President of Engineering @ Launch Academy, decided to interject and remind everyone that everything they say is being monitored. Here are some excerpts of what he said, verbatim:
“Do you really want to say things that are open for mis-interpretation that could present a "public" perception that makes you sound callous to the gender/diversity hot button tech issue of the day?”
“It's a fact that there are more white men in this community than any other group, and as such i particularly appeal to those of us who fall into that category to try hard to keep our tone and conversation in line with the Launch Academy cultural norms and guidelines that all of us benefit from.”
Of course, indiscriminately lecturing all men is not something that is explicitly prohibited in the Launch Academy Code of Conduct paper we all signed – because, you know…diversity.
One more example – A fellow classmate of mine was accused of sexual harassment by a female classmate, and without actually investigating the accusation, Launch Academy took it at face value and actually threatened to expel him. They told him that he was sexually harassing another student but refused to give evidence of it ever happening, the date, time or place in question it occurred or the name of the accuser. They wouldn’t even state exactly what it was that he did, just a nebulous “You committed sexual harassment”. They never followed up with this female accuser to press her for details, they simply assumed that she was telling the truth.
This and many other countless examples really irritated me. They treat people like they are fragile, broken creatures’, incapable of accepting the fact that someone has a differing view from themselves. To remedy this, they preemptively tell people to not talk about certain topics and inject BS politics into a program that is designed to teach me and everyone else how-to CODE. One of the staff members actually gave a presentation on how to “cope” with the fact that Hillary Clinton did not win the election. This is absolute garbage. Nobody cares. I want to build websites, not listen to your nonsense. I am here to jumpstart a new career. I risked A LOT to make this move in my life and to have Launch Academy staff show such little regard for the sacrifices I made to be there is very disconcerting.
The disruption and distraction caused by their nonsensical moral high-ground showmanship really put a damper on the latter part of the cohort – a sentiment expressed by well over half of the cohort to myself, personally. It made it difficult to focus on the already difficult course material because everyone was chatting in hushed tones about what we all thought these veiled threats of expulsion were in response to. We never really found out…
They promote this event at the end of the cohort called Career Kickoff. It advertised as being the primary engine for you to get a job. You pay 15k, learn to code, build a project and show it off to prospective employers and then they all fight over who they want to hire! Yes! Except, the first day of Career Kickoff we had, get this...3 companies show up. The second day was better with maybe a dozen showing up.
As a result, of the roughly 30 remaining students who presented to hiring partners, only a handful of maybe 3 or 4 landed jobs as a direct result of that event. It was a MAJOR letdown that everyone was really pissed off about and is essentially worthless. Most people found jobs because they hustled hard after Launch by continuing to code and marketing themselves with various resources. Do not expect Launch to get you a job, they failed so many of us it's not even funny.
Here is the full gist of what I took from my experience. If you want to learn how to code, Launch Academy will in fact teach you to code – even if you are a complete novice. However, you should expect incessant lecturing about how horrible men are and how virtuous a litany of ‘protected’ classes are. Expect lots of political evangelism and expect to be told to conform to their way of thinking or shut up and leave. If given the opportunity to do it all over, I am fairly certain I would go the route of a Bootcamp, but I am not so sure, if I knew what I know now, I would choose Launch Academy.