An Underwhelming Experience
I entered Launch Academy as the ideal candidate for success: I was a young, Asian woman with a strong background in programming. I don’t doubt I was among the most capable in my cohort, and right after graduation, I got interviews... Read More
I was in a perfect position to take advantage of what Launch Academy had to offer, and even though I got what I needed, I want to draw attention to the fact that many of my peers are still struggling. Anyone who is interested in attending should strongly consider whether this decision will be worth their investment.
Launch Academy makes many promises and assertions on their website, such as --
** “world-class instruction, mentorship, and career support in an atmosphere that elevates everybody” and a “7:1 student to instructor ratio”. [https://www.launchacademy.com/faqs]
** graduation of 95% of students [https://www.launchacademy.com/blog/student-statistics]
** placement of 86% of graduating students who were job seekers, in full-time non-temporary positions [https://www.launchacademy.com/blog/student-statistics].
** (This number is also given as 92% on the same page.)
These statements do not align with my experience as part of the 16th Boston cohort, in which --
** The instructional materials were subject to disorganization and errors. The actual instruction was provided by teachers of varying quality, many of whom had graduated from Launch Academy within the last two years.
** The mentorship was haphazard and highly dependent on the individual mentors, who had limited experience in teaching, counseling, or conflict resolution.
** The career support was prone to giving outdated advice and to overpromising.
** The effective student to teacher ratio was 10:1.
** The graduation rate was 85%.
** After two and a half months, the placement rate of the entire cohort is 28%. This percentage includes people who did are not endorsed graduates and people who lost access to Career Services, which Launch Academy does NOT include in the number on their website.
More generally, my experience at Launch Academy failed to meet the expectations set by their website and their tuition of $15,500. For example, although Launch Academy maintains educational licensure in Boston, they do not grant certification upon graduation, and they do not employ teachers. In lieu of teachers, they employ “Experience Engineers (EEs)”, who serve as mentors for the students, writers for the curriculum, and developers for the website.
My cohort was 39 students. At the time, that was the largest cohort they had admitted so far, and they had failed to staff appropriately or modify their teaching model. The cohort was divided into four mentor groups of approximately 10 students each, each of which was assigned to an EE. Theoretically, these EEs were on hand to provide support; however, rather than proactively engaging with us, the EEs instructed us to pose questions about the curriculum, etc., to their online ticket system.
As previously mentioned, the instructional materials were not well curated. The assignments that were made available for a given week would change up until the day when a particular reading was due; in one case, the aforementioned update was missed entirely. Exercises were prone to have configuration issues. The afternoon review sessions, during which the EEs walked us through live coding exercises, were subject to fall apart and thereby lose their instructive value.
The primary selling point for Launch Academy is their Career Services program, but it is apparent that its inclusion is an afterthought. The program consisted of rote instructions for formatting our resumes, a couple of mock interviews with EEs, and a 20-page document summarizing generic advice and technical questions. To the specific end of showcasing ourselves during the career fair, we were directed to write and rehearse a two-minute speech advertising ourselves and our capstone project, and even that was down to an impersonal formula.
The career fair itself was disappointing. My understanding was that Launch Academy was to arrange the attendance of 15-20 partners over the course of two days. For my cohort, 4 out of 11 expected companies attended the first day, and 6 out of 9 companies attended the second day (with one of them leaving early). Each company was hiring only 1-2 people, and some companies were only interested in filling internship positions.
This has translated to a low hiring momentum for my cohort. 5 of us failed to meet Technical Requirements for graduation, and 1 deferred to a later cohort. Of the remaining 33 of us:
** 1 was hired by Launch Academy.
** 7 were hired by hiring partners that attended the career fair.
** 4 were hired by other employers in the weeks afterward.
** 6 were removed from Launch Academy’s cohort portfolio for failing to meet Post-Graduate Support Requirements.
** 15 are still unemployed.
It’s disheartening to have had such an underwhelming experience. It’s disheartening to see so many of my cohort disserved by a program they paid good money for. It’s disheartening to see the cost of tuition rising with nothing to show for it.
Launch Academy worked for me, but I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the program to others.
If you would like to have a deeper conversation about Launch Academy, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.