August 18, 2015
Each year tuition and college fees increase, leading exiting students to have a massive amount of debt. According to The College Board, over the past decade, the average increase for universities is 5%, which is higher than the general inflation rate and increase in personal income. By 2033 students attending a public university with in-state tuition can look at nearly $100K in debt after four years of school (current average of $40K). However, the current job market is becoming even more stringent, and people are adopting alternative solutions to continue their education such as online classes, technical schools, coding bootcamps, and even MOOCs like Coursera.
Each continuing education offering has its pros and cons, associated costs, time involved, and post-completion benefits, so there are a lot of factors when making a decision. However, for those looking to get into a more technical or creative role, bootcamps are becoming the go-to choice as a cheaper alternative to four years of college. Moreover, those looking to change their career to said fields are among the most frequent adopters of the programs.
“Because bootcamps are more intimate in nature and judged upon their ability to get someone hired, they can assure students are learning the most desirable skill sets since technologies change rapidly. This unfortunately isn’t always the case with traditional universities,” said Drew Sing, Growth at Bloc.
Weighing the Cost Variables of Coding Bootcamps
Coming from someone who balanced a full time job and a master’s program, I can firsthand tell you until your thesis is submitted you’ll have little to no personal life. Although a bootcamp on communications might not be feasible, learning to become a developer or designer over a few months is. For bootcamps, you have two typical options, in-person or online.
To get a better idea of the costs involved, Bloc.io lanched a calculator which helps clarify the true costs of these bootcamps. The team also went into great detail how they developed the resource. Albeit there was a bit of drama around this particular tool, the information still makes a reasonable case for choosing an online vs an in-person bootcamp if cost is the largest differentiator for you.
For example, say I have a full time job making $65K in New York City and wanted to become a UX designer; according to their calculator the cheapest ($9.5K) option is Bloc.io. The most expensive would be Fullstack academy at just under $58K ($15.7K tuition and a loss of $42.2K in salary) over a 21 week in-person program. However, cost alone is not the only factor for those looking to switch careers, but also learning preferences, post-graduation support, and alumni networks.
True Cost? True Self-Cost
Although the true cost of coding bootcamps are relatively simple to understand, students all learn in different ways and require certain levels of motivation to complete their program. For students at General Assembly, they often devote a majority of their time in the program specifically to classwork, leaving no room for a full-time job. For recent General Assembly graduate and now Full Stack Developer for Washington DC based Cove, Aurora Nou dove head first into becoming a developer. She completed a graduate program last fall in human studies and was working in an academic field, but was not thrilled with the job opportunities it led to. The work was slow, and Nou thought a startup would be more her speed.
After hearing about coding bootcamps, “I applied to GA just for kicks. I didn’t find a job that speaks to me, and would just stick it out. It’s definitely a financial cost, but to put it into perspective like college it’s not as bad,” said Nou. “For my case I was able to find a job that made the cost worth it.”
One of the key benefits for students who complete programs at General Assembly is the alumni network and post-graduation support. After graduating from her program, Nou had several offers and joined Cove.
For Nou, the cost involved for the program and leaving her full-time job was worth it, but she advises that it may not be the best option for everyone.
“It’s important that you are generally interested in the work, not just a quick way to a better paying job,” said Nou. “It’s important to appreciate what you are doing. People who did best are the people who did all the coursework and continued to learn on the work.” Students who often worked on projects outside of the required homework and pushed themselves were able to get the most of the program. Nou’s advice also mirrors that of former Bloc instructor and CEO of Washington DC based NAV, Michael Aleo experienced.
Getting Out What You Put In
Among the development programs available at bloc.io, they also offer a design class. Aleo has more than 15 years in the design industry, worked with agencies of various sizes and fortune 500 companies, the former art director at the White House, and since 2013 running NAV. Aleo was also doing some mentoring on the side, but wanted to get into teaching; however, running a studio and educating others have clashing time requirements, and that’s when he joined Bloc as a mentor.
“The most successful students are the ones who want to talk in whatever time they have left. They can’t help but keep working at it,” said Aleo. “Those are the people who are successful. Let me spend 30 minutes doing an entire logo process according to the curriculum… those are the ones who are unsuccessful.”
Just like traditional education options, not everyone completes the program. “I definitely had unsuccessful students too. I only had one student drop out completely, which was surprising. I thought it would be higher,” said Aleo. “If you are not creative at all, or not curious or a problem solver… If you are not willing to completely apply yourself, just like any other class, you don’t become great by doing the bare minimum.”
When asked why he believes students join a bootcamp, Aleo further supported Nou’s reasoning to join her program. “Nine out of 10 were doing something else, and wanted to become a designer,” said Aleo. “The other one out of 10 were designers with complimentary skill sets and wanted to advance their knowledge. They wanted to become proficient at it.”
Reminiscing about his former students, Aleo highlighted one particular story of a pharmacist turned designer. “He was counting pills by day, and I saw him going from never have designed a site before, to I have no doubt he’ll be working at DropBox or Google in a few years. He did in four months what I did in four years. It’s not the norm, it’s not everybody.”
Aleo is essentially self-taught and learned via trial by fire. He dropped out of college to become a web designer at an HR company in an agency environment with other designers and creatives. Often he would pull all nighters trying to figure things out.
This is mirrored by Bloc’s Drew Sing, “Bootcamps formalize and structure the mastery of learning a skill. Even self-taught designers/developers will most likely attest to someone who acted as a knowledgeable resource, whether it was a friend, co-worker, or teacher. By pairing formal guidance with a vetted curriculum, bootcamps accelerate the rate that a student acquires these skills.”
Did you like this article?
Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!