10 Things to Consider Before Applying to a Bootcamp
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- Always conduct research on a specific bootcamp before enrolling.
- Not every bootcamp offers the same services and quality level.
- Determine which format would best suit your learning style.
- Research the graduate success rates and student-to-faculty ratio before applying.
Did you know that a coding bootcamp can help learners achieve their professional goals quickly? Some bootcamps only last a few weeks, while others take several months. But they usually take less time than an associate degree to finish.
People sometimes assume that because coding bootcamps provide cheaper alternatives to higher education, employers won't respect them. However, this isn't necessarily true, and many companies hire bootcamp graduates.
Coding bootcamps do require a financial and time commitment. They are intensive, fast-paced courses that prepare students to enter the tech industry or learn a new skill necessary for promotion. So, check out some key things to know before applying to a bootcamp.
10 Things to Consider Before Applying to a Coding Bootcamp
1 Not All Bootcamps Offer Career Services
Certain bootcamps offer assistance with finding a job upon completion. They may do so through career coaching or by providing professional connections. However, many bootcamps do not provide this assistance.
Regardless of whether a bootcamp offers career services or not, attending a bootcamp does not always guarantee a job (but some do!). Learners should ask the bootcamp provider for data on graduate success rates. Some bootcamps offer data on the percentage of graduates who earn a coding-related job within six months of graduation. If the bootcamp shares this information, ask how the bootcamp collects the data.
2 Decide on Your Learning Format
Bootcamps feature several learning formats. The format can determine how well you perform and absorb the information. The best format depends on your learning style, preferences, and schedule.
Some bootcamps follow an online self-paced format. Learners with optimal time management skills who prefer flexibility may enjoy this format. People who want more accountability may prefer an in-person bootcamp. Those who work full-time jobs may want to pursue a part-time program. Learners who want to finish quickly should consider full-time programs.
3 Determine Your Technical Discipline
Bootcamps cover a variety of topics. Selecting one bootcamp requires having a general idea of your ideal technical discipline. The technical discipline you choose should align with your career goals. Common technical disciplines include UX/UI design, software engineering, and cybersecurity. Some bootcamps devote all of their resources to one technical specialization.
A good tip for deciding which discipline to choose is to read through tech career descriptions by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS lists common career paths for becoming various types of tech professionals. The organization also provides information like salary and outlook statistics.
4 What Are the Graduation Rates?
Figuring out a bootcamp's graduation rates before committing to one may help you avoid a predatory bootcamp. Many bootcamp providers publish the percentage of people who attempt the program and graduate. To determine this data's validity, you can ask the provider how it gathers the data.
Some bootcamps are Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) members. The CIRR independently collects data on topics like graduation rates from providers. BestColleges publishes a list of CIRR-verified bootcamps each year.
Contacting graduates from a specific bootcamp may reveal more information. Consider reaching out to a few people to learn how the school facilitated their success.
5 Don't Only Enroll for the Money
According to the BLS, computer and information research scientists earned a median income of $131,490 as of May 2021. This is more than double the median salary for all other occupations.
We won't lie — those numbers look pretty good. However, money can only motivate you to a certain degree. Some tech jobs require long hours and a lot of commitment. Some people find that computer jobs feel isolating, so making sure that you enjoy your profession can lead to a higher quality of life.
Before enrolling, keep in mind that a more expensive coding bootcamp program does not always indicate higher quality.
6 Don't Quit Your Day Job
Once you decide to attend a bootcamp, it may seem tempting to forgo other responsibilities. However, quitting your current job may come with drawbacks. You may discover you like your current profession more than coding once you start the bootcamp.
Funds from the FAFSA do not apply to bootcamps. Bootcamp students must pay for their education upfront, through a payment plan, or through a loan. So, keeping a full-time job during your studies may put you in a better position to pay for a bootcamp.
Many bootcamps design their programs for learners with full-time jobs. Online bootcamps often move quickly, but the virtual format offers flexibility.
7 Check LinkedIn Beforehand
Many bootcamp providers have LinkedIn profiles. Looking at these profiles helps you learn more about the bootcamp. Some bootcamp providers even publish interesting articles on this platform. A premium LinkedIn subscription allows you to see more insights about the company.
Looking at the profiles of bootcamp graduates may help you figure out what jobs people can get after finishing a bootcamp. You can also connect with recent graduates and start conversations to learn more.
Before applying to a bootcamp, make sure you update your own profile. Some competitive bootcamp providers may check your LinkedIn.
8 What Is the Application Process Like?
The application process varies between providers. However, most coding bootcamp applications require recommendation letters. Check with specific bootcamp providers to learn whether they place limits on how many times you may apply.
Some providers feature open-enrollment policies. Other providers require a lengthy process with an interview. Programs that enroll a limited number of people may provide a more tailored experience. For example, they may offer one-on-one mentorship sessions. Open-enrollment programs usually feature larger cohorts or class sizes.
Certain bootcamp providers allow learners to try out the program through a prerequisite course. During this class, the provider evaluates how well the applicant responds to feedback.
9 What Is the Student-to-Faculty Ratio?
The student-to-faculty ratio is the number of instructors compared to the number of students. More competitive programs may feature fewer students per instructor. This means smaller class sizes. A bootcamp's student-to-faculty ratio may determine how much one-on-one assistance you'll receive.
However, bootcamps with larger class sizes may cost less. Independent learners may still thrive in a bootcamp with a larger student-to-faculty ratio. Instructors still offer assistance and answer questions in these bootcamps.
10 Make Sure You Enjoy Coding
Some bootcamp providers do not provide refunds. Before spending your money, consider practicing coding through free programs. Some bootcamp providers, like Simplilearn, provide free coding courses.
Even if you enjoy coding, consider whether you would enjoy working with code for long hours. Sometimes, coding professionals must work long days under pressure to meet timeline goals or solve pressing issues.
Before selecting a bootcamp that specializes in a specific coding language, also make sure you like working with that type of language. For example, Python varies greatly from Java. Also, HTML and CSS may not be useful for certain engineering jobs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Applying to a Coding Bootcamp
How do I prepare for a coding bootcamp interview?
Before a coding bootcamp interview:
- Research information about the bootcamp provider.
- Make a list of questions after looking at the bootcamp provider's website.
- Come with questions, a resume, and a list of professional references.
Treat the interview as you would any job interview, and dress professionally. In general, bootcamp providers want to enroll students who show promise. Successful graduates contribute positively to a bootcamp provider's reporting statistics. So, competitive bootcamp providers want to enroll students who show the most promise.
Do you need prior knowledge for a coding bootcamp?
The answer depends on the specific bootcamp. Some bootcamps include foundational knowledge in the curriculum. These bootcamps are often beginner-friendly. More advanced bootcamps may require a prerequisite course. Regardless, anyone can benefit from gathering foundational knowledge before enrolling.
Learners can take free coding courses online before starting their bootcamp. They can also read coding books to start. Certain programming languages, like HTML and CSS, are easier starting languages to try. Contact a specific bootcamp to learn about prerequisite requirements before enrolling.
Are coding bootcamps worth it?
Yes. People who enjoy coding and earn high-paying jobs after completing a bootcamp may find the effort and cost worthwhile. Creative thinkers with a passion for strategic thinking often enjoy working with code. According to the BLS, web developers and digital designers earned a median income of $78,300 in May 2021. The organization projects the need for these professionals to grow by 23% between 2021-2031.
Consider asking a bootcamp provider for data on the average income for their graduates. You can also ask about what companies hire their graduates.