Bootcamp Prep Programs: What Are They?

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Updated on October 16, 2023
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Coding bootcamps can be a great way to begin your career in programming. But like any educational or vocational program, you typically need to go through an admissions process before you can enroll.

While many bootcamps accept students who don't have any coding experience, you can still boost your chances of getting into more selective bootcamps by completing a bootcamp prep course first. These prep courses equip students with foundational programming and computer science knowledge so they can feel more prepared when they apply for and begin their bootcamp.

This guide breaks down what you need to know about bootcamp prep courses. It also offers advice to help you figure out whether these programs might be right for you.

What Are Coding Bootcamp Prep Programs?

Bootcamp prep courses teach participants about the basics of programming, and help students hit the ground running if they start a more intensive, multi-week bootcamp. Prep programs usually focus on some of the most common coding languages, like JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python, Ruby, C/C++, and PHP.

Prep programs can provide additional advantages when it comes to applying for bootcamps, as well. Many bootcamp providers tailor preparatory courses according to the topics covered in one of their bootcamp programs. Flatiron School, for instance, offers free online classes to get prospective bootcamp students up to speed in relevant topics before they enroll in Flatiron School's data science or software engineering bootcamp.

Fullstack Academy also runs a few different prep programs for its bootcamps: a free, self-paced, online course; an in-person, part-time course lasting one month; and a one-week immersive course. These prep programs use a skills-based curriculum, focusing on concepts like functions, data types, and recursion. They range in cost from free to $200.

While many bootcamp prep courses are free, some offer a more robust curriculum for a larger fee. For example, App Academy advertises its preparation course as a way to boost admissions chances into "the best coding bootcamps." The online course covers web development, JavaScript fundamentals, and interviewing techniques. It also offers perks like tutoring hours and personal assessment feedback. The tuition for this bootcamp prep course ranges from $995-$3,795, depending on the plan you choose.

Coding Bootcamps for You

Prep Courses vs. Coding Courses

How do bootcamp prep courses compare to a full bootcamp, or to other coding courses you can find online from websites like Coursera, edX, Udacity, Udemy or Codecademy?

Many of the skills taught in a bootcamp prep course may also be covered in an intensive bootcamp program or another online coding course -- it depends on the specific courses you're looking at. However, although online coding courses run the gamut from basic introductory programming to the most specialized and advanced of technical topics, bootcamp prep courses tend to just stick to the basics, like understanding the function of variables, data structures, and syntax.

Many bootcamps also teach introductory coding skills, but these programs tend to cover the basics quickly and go over a lot more material. Bootcamps usually include instruction in many other computer science skills and job-related capabilities beyond just coding. They also focus on job search readiness, offering services like career coaching, mock interviewing, and portfolio reviews.

You can read more about the differences between coding courses and bootcamps here.

Do I Need a Prep Program?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including your experience, your professional goals, and the bootcamps you're interested in applying to.

You can certainly apply to bootcamps without any coding knowledge. Many bootcamps accept beginners, and even encourage them to apply. That said, more selective programs do look for students with some foundational knowledge in coding. Bootcamps may also prefer students who have shown initiative in jump-starting their programming education themselves. In this case, prep programs certainly have value.

You should also consider your own personal comfort level. Diving into any program with a completely blank slate can feel intimidating, so building a solid foundation in programming before you begin a bootcamp may be reassuring. If you simply prefer extra practice, a prep course could also be a good option for you.

When choosing prep programs, remember to consider factors like money and time. If you are on a tight budget, look for free bootcamp prep online. While many bootcamp prep programs take the form of self-paced, online courses, learners who want more structure may want to search for a full-time or part-time prep program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bootcamp Prep Programs

How do you prepare for a coding bootcamp?

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Bootcamp prep courses can help you get ready for a coding bootcamp. Prep courses offer curriculum plans for students who want to build their foundational coding skills. You can often find bootcamp prep online for free.

Are coding bootcamps hard to get into?

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This depends on the coding bootcamp. Some programs accept the majority of applicants, whether or not they possess any coding experience. That said, other bootcamps have more rigorous criteria and a more competitive admissions process. In this case, taking a bootcamp prep course and developing foundational programming skills can boost your chances of getting accepted.

Are coding bootcamps for beginners?

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Many coding bootcamps are for beginners with absolutely no programming experience. However, some programs prefer to admit incoming students who have some foundational background in coding. Make sure to check the admission requirements for your top bootcamp choices.