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How to Choose the Best Flexible Coding Bootcamp for You

November 20, 2020
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The tech landscape continues to grow, adding jobs and opportunities for many individuals who wish to learn new skills but may still have other home or work responsibilities. For those who are trying to make a career change to tech, attending a flexible bootcamp or coding program is an effective way to make a career change at your own pace.

The number of coding schools and bootcamps to choose from can be a little overwhelming at first, and it may be challenging to know which program will be the best fit for you. Thankfully, this post will help you learn how to choose the best part-time coding bootcamp to meet your specific needs. As you begin your search, keep in mind that individuals in flexible bootcamp programs choose those tracks for a variety of reasons. Some come with full-time jobs, some are stay-at-home parents, and many have other personal and professional responsibilities making flexible schedules the simplest to incorporate. Despite flexible coding programs taking longer to compete, they are just as robust and beneficial as full-time coding programs and may even work better for students who wish to digest and master content to show their highest skills when the time comes to find a job. In fact, many Bloom Institute of Technology (formerly known as Lambda School) students credit the added benefit of a flexible curriculum in enabling increased confidence and competency.  

Regardless of your schedule, there is a flexible coding program that can work for everyone. Consider the following questions when making your selection. 

1.     How will I learn best? Consider your learning style. Are you a self-directed learner, or do you work best following a structured schedule? Flexible coding programs offer a wide array of options, including pre-recorded lectures, live lectures, personal mentors, and even peer-to-peer online support networks. At BloomTech, students have the opportunity to work on real-world projects as a part of teams, which boost their portfolios and help them build crucial communication and leadership skills. Invest in a bootcamp that will keep you engaged at the pace that works for you.

As you research your options, think critically about your “soft skills” – the intrinsic qualities that keep you motivated and driven. Each online coding program will have its own idea about the type of student best suited for their program, but keep in mind that the program needs to be the right fit for you and you for it. For instance, BloomTech looks for student qualities such as, “determined, proactive, team player, digitally savvy, career focused, and gritty”. That’s because BloomTech students provide continual feedback that these qualities best serve them when working through the curriculum. 

Pro Tip: Get clear about your professional goals and objectives in making your bootcamp selection. In addition to teaching you the skills needed to get you where you want to go, will your program prepare you to enter the job market, start your own company, or build your portfolio? Decide your end goal now and work backwards to find the best fit for you. 

2.     How flexible will the program be? Flexible coding program schedules can vary greatly from completely self-directed to structured, with the most common structured schedule being evenings and/or weekends to accommodate students with full-time jobs. Some programs cover limited subject matter, like a specific language or framework, while others cover a broad range of subjects you will need to know to advance professionally. Decide early which will fit your learning and schedule best. For example, if you wish to become an iOS Developer, you may choose a program with a narrow iOS focus, whereas if you wish to become a Web Developer, you will require a more comprehensive range of skills. At the same time, with more skills, come more professional opportunities, so with every choice there are professional ripple effects worth considering upfront. BloomTech’s schedule is a great example of a structured, comprehensive program with tracksgeared toward mastery and employment.

While some programs may appear shorter in duration, it is also important to factor in the content provided. Consider, for example, BloomTech’s web development program, includes a year of coursework including coding fundamentals, languages, and frameworks (JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Node, React, Python, Redux, SQL, and more), group labs projects which can be used for an individual’s portfolio, Computer Science coursework, and job preparation. In comparison, other flexible comprehensive online programs may offer 34 weeks, 500 hours, or some other “equivalent” coursework offering, when in fact they may not teach as many languages and frameworks or provide any real-world projects, portfolio opportunities, or interview coaching support to enter the job market. 

When making your decision, consider your current work and home obligations. How will flexible classwork impact your family life, social life, and free time? What will you need to give up to achieve your goals and what will you gain? During this pandemic, many individuals seeking a career change may find it useful to remain employed in a traditional nine-to-five “day job” while acquiring new skills in a part-time program in the evenings. This has resulted in an increased demand for flexible programs, with a growing number moving to offer online options. This means greater accessibility, variety, and competition. 

Pro Tip: As you make your selection, consider the track record, quality of instruction, and supports within each program. Will there be downsides related to the flexibility afforded by the program? How might you feel as a self-directed learner if you have never done it before? Options like BloomTech might help provide structure for those who may need more day-to-day support. Consider how programs with built in peer-to-peer support culture may help not only with daily challenges and camaraderie, but as a way to build out your professional network after graduation.

3.     How much value will I get for my dollar? There are stark contrasts in price between short programs covering less subject matter and larger, more comprehensive programs covering a broader range of skills needed in the field. While shorter programs may be less expensive up front, they may not allow you to build upon new skills by putting them to use directly in projects with teams and teachers. For those looking for a program through which to build a robust portfolio, look to schools that give opportunities for real-world lab projects, collaboration, and mentorship. 

Online coding schools and bootcamps often carry a hefty upfront tuition cost, with 6-week to one year or longer programs varying greatly in price from $7000-$22,000. These up-front costs often require students to dip into savings, borrow, or take on significant debt. As you factor in these costs, consider how this will impact your budget if you are still working or if you will be going down to part time work to accommodate the added mental workload. If you choose to pay for a program out-of-pocket or by dipping into savings, consider the benefit of using a budgeting tool or consulting with a financial advisor to ensure the option will be in your best interest. 

Thankfully there are alternatives to traditional upfront tuition options. At BloomTech, we invest in you. With our popular income share agreement, or ISA, you invest in yourself, too. When you pay for your BloomTech education with an ISA, you’ll start by paying for a fraction of your tuition up front. Once you graduate, we’ll help you land a well-paying job—and then you’ll pay for the rest of your tuition with a percentage of your income for a limited time. 

In other words, an ISA funds your tuition so you can pay back BloomTech later.

Here are some of the basics about ISAs at BloomTech.

  1. Know what you owe. Unlike with a typical loan, the maximum amount you owe will never increase with an ISA. Your total payment amount is capped at $40,000*, and you may end up paying less.

  1. It scales with you. Your goal is to get a great job; that’s our goal for you, too. Once you start earning at least an annualized $50,000** a year, you’ll pay us back with a percentage of your income each month. If your earned income falls below the minimum total amount, your payments will be deferred until your income reaches the minimum again.

  1. No lingering obligations. Your contract is finished once you complete the ISA payment schedule or reach the payment cap, whichever comes first. And if you aren’t making the minimum average monthly income, and have had deferred payments for a total of 48 months, then your ISA expires and you don’t owe anything else—even if you’ve paid nothing up to that point.

At BloomTech, we are committed to providing more people with a direct and lower-risk path to a rewarding tech job. That’s why we offer flexible options to pay your tuition—and launch your new career. This means BloomTech has added accountability and buy-in related to your learning, mastery of material, and job success.

As you weigh your options, remember that your needs are unique and it’s OK to take the time you need to make the best decision for you. When you’re ready to start working toward a rewarding new career in tech, you’ll have plenty of flexible study options to help you take your skills to the next level. 

Ready to change your life today? Explore BloomTech’s web development and data science programs or apply now.