Learning To Code

How to Know When You’re Ready to Apply to a Coding Bootcamp

What to Wait For (and What to Not Wait For)

Flatiron School / 1 November 2016
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We talk to a lot of prospective students who want to learn to code. They know attending a coding bootcamp is an efficient way to learn those skills, but they’re full of misconceptions around the admissions process—especially when it comes to when they should actually apply.

It makes sense: with all the free coding resources out there, it’s tough to know when to take a step back and say “now I’m ready”—especially if you don’t know how a bootcamp defines “ready.” At Flatiron School, we’re trying to do what we can to demystify the bootcamp admissions process. It’s important to know that there’s a difference between when you’re ready to apply to a bootcamp and when you’re ready for day one of a bootcamp program.

So, here is our quick guide to know when you’re ready to apply.

Wait until…

  1. Wait until… you know you want to do this for the right reasons. You may know you’re not happy in your current job, but are you confident that you’ll like this job (a.k.a. web developer or software engineer)? Do you know you like programming? The last thing you want to do is invest a ton of time and money pursuing a career you may not love. The solution? Explore and become a part of the coding community; speak to people who have gone through the process and started jobs as developers. At the very least, start coding—there are so many free coding resources out there to get you started. “I like coding” is the right reason to apply.
  2. Wait until… you know the school is the right fit for you. Don’t waste your time applying to a bunch of schools you don’t know are appropriate for your goals and priorities. For example, at Flatiron School, we place a huge emphasis on community. If that aligns with your learning style (you work best in a group and want to support others as you learn), definitely apply here. On the other hand, if you’re a more competitive or solitary learner, it may not be the right fit.
  3. Wait until… you’re ready to set aside the time to complete a coding bootcamp program, whether it’s in person or online. If it’s online, wait until you know you’ll have time to make consistent progress, even if you’re balancing your studies with a job (spending two hours a day per week is different from spending twelve hours over one day). If you’re considering an in-person program, wait until you know you’re able to quit your job, spend 3-4 months of intense focus on learning, and then take additional time for the post-bootcamp job search.

wait

Don’t wait until…

  1. Don’t wait until… you complete an entire prep course. We see this all the time in our applicants: people want to get through an entire free course before applying. They want to feel ready to apply without fully understanding the application process. You can wait—but you don’t need to in order to be a promising applicant. Our admissions team initially wants to see consistency in how you’re preparing. In general, the sooner you start the application process, the better. That doesn’t mean you need to enroll right away, but if it’s the fear of the technical interview holding you back, it’s important to understand that that doesn’t need to hold back your initial application, which is more a way to get to know you. If you’re invited to do a technical interview after your initial application, you’re welcome to say you want to do more studying before scheduling that assessment. 
  2. Don’t wait until… you have your finances 100% figured out. While finances certainly play a big part in the process, lots of coding bootcamps now offer financing and scholarships that might not be immediately apparent to you. Even if you haven’t found that information on a school’s website, that can definitely be a part of your discussion with the admissions team. Be sure to ask if there are any scholarships that match your qualifications. For example, here at Flatiron School we’ve partnered with Women Who Code to offer full scholarships to aspiring female programmers, Course Report to give scholarships to creative individuals coming from non-technical backgrounds, and many more.
  3. Don’t wait until… you know which school you’re definitely interested in attending. Use the application and admissions process to figure that out along the way. Some people mention in their application that Flatiron School is the only coding bootcamp that they want to attend… but it’s crazy to believe that before you’ve even spoken to us. You should use the admissions process to further evaluate us before making that call. Get to know our culture and community. Definitely look at rankings and reviews, but that’s not enough. You have to emotionally connect with a school and know this place will bring the best out in me. Don’t be so certain about that until you speak to people from the school—the admissions team, certainly, but students and alums as well—and really get sense of culture and community and whether they’re right for you.

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A Final Takeaway

If you’re going to take one thing away from this, we just want to reiterate: You don’t have to be ready for technical interview to apply! It’s a super common misconception. After you apply, your first interview will be a non-technical getting-to-know you chat. It is definitely important for us to see that you’re passionate about programming, that you’re tinkering with code in some way, or even taking a free course on Learn.co. But in terms of scheduling the technical interview, each case is different—ask an admissions person to make the best plan for you. And know this: if you get to the technical stage of the process, it means they love you. 

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How to Ace a Coding Bootcamp Technical Interview

There’s really nothing to stress about. After you finish your initial interview here at Flatiron School, you’re invited to a Technical Interview prep track on Learn.co, which gives you all the resources you’ll need to be ready for that. You have as long as you want to get through the track and prepare before scheduling the interview itself. So separate it in your head: apply when you’re ready to take this process seriously; but whether you schedule technical interview for a few days or weeks after that is up to you. The average time from applying to being admitted is about 34 days, but there’s a huge range, and we’re ready to go by what works for you.


Ready to start your own coding journey? Try our new Bootcamp Prep course—the most efficient, effective way to prepare for the top coding bootcamps. 

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