Coding bootcamps have been all the rage for at least a decade, and you’re probably considering enrolling in one. But how do you know if a bootcamp ad is a scam or not?
Unflattering reviews on platforms where real users leave their reviews and share their experience with coding bootcamps are probably the first thing that should alert you. Most of bootcamp rankings like Career Karma, Course Report, and Swith up are based on such reviews. But you can’t rely on reviews alone. If your goal is to get a job in tech without wasting your money, watch out for these red flags.
Red Flag No. 1: Coding school promises to get you job-ready too quickly
Technical bootcamps are meant to last less than college. Even so, they are intense training courses that give you the up-to-date knowledge and skills every tech specialist needs. But how do you know for sure?
If an ad for a bootcamp claims you’ll become a software engineer in anything less than six months, you should think twice before reaching for your credit card. Getting trained to be a good coder takes time and effort.
Practicum’s schedule is jam-packed with theory and practice, and spans half a year – if you’re doing it full-time. Our part-time program lasts up to 10 months. It may feel long-ish, but with so much to learn, there’s no point rushing it. For specialties like data science and data analytics, it’s no different.
“The length of the bootcamp was a challenge — eight months,” says Chuks Okoli, Practicum grad and machine learning engineer. “But I’d rather be a data scientist in eight months than do a bootcamp for, like, six weeks, and claim to be a data scientist and then not even know what I’m doing.”
Red Flag No. 2: You can’t find a detailed syllabus
If a coding academy claims to provide quality education to students, it will hardly want to hide any information about its curriculum. On the contrary, it will be proud to show off what it’s got to offer. Consequently, the less you know about what you're about to learn, the more skeptical you should be.
Incomplete lists and headlines for the program without any further details about the skills and tools you’ll be mastering are not enough either. You need to know the ins and outs of a bootcamp to understand if it suits your needs.
It’s also worth validating the syllabus by a friend who already works in tech. They could tell you if you’ve made a wise choice or advise against signing up for this particular bootcamp.
At Practicum, all our syllabuses are available online, detailing the modules and sprints week by week. Getting familiar with them is our first recommendation to potential students.
Red Flag No. 3: You don’t know who will be helping you along
Before enrolling in a coding bootcamp, make sure you don’t get a pack of pre-recorded video lectures. There’s nothing wrong with lectures, however, you’ll also want as much practice and feedback as you can get. Otherwise, you’ll not be getting your money’s worth.
In high-quality bootcamps, whether online or offline, you’ll be offered tons of support from mentors, managers, and code reviewers. You’ll be teaming up with other students and, should you get lucky, you could meet your future employer during an externship, too. After all, making friends and networking is a big part of the learning process.
Practicum grad Zachary Rodriguez says teamwork was a lifesaver to him. “You can assess where you are compared to others in a similar position. And if there are more experienced people ahead of you, you can study their code and learn from them. If there are people who aren't on your level, you can help them. Plus, you can add ‘working on a project with other people’ to your resume. That's important.”
Red Flag No. 4: There are no employment guarantees
The strongest motivation to master a new profession is to use your new skills and get paid for them. So it’s only natural to expect your school to help you land the job of your dreams.
Top schools offer internships at real companies, have a career advisor team, and support students beyond graduation. At Practicum, we even return our U.S.-resident grads their tuition if they fail to get a job in software development after 6 months of active search. Coding schools that have none of the above make their study program worthless.
By the way, 87% of Practicum grads find a tech job after six months. “I got hired for almost the very first job I interviewed for,” says Practicum grad and former animation artist Desiree Bradish. “I really nailed it! I felt prepared for all of the questions, and it was largely because I was able to talk to people at [Practicum] Career Services.”
Red Flag No. 5: A school’s graduate outcomes are not public
You’ve probably heard this one before (see Red Flag No. 2), but once again: transparency is key. A coding academy shouldn’t conceal information, including employment rates for their students.
Graduate outcomes show the real value of education. Eye-catching logos and figures on the landing page should be backed by independent reports and grads ready to vouch for the quality of the course they’ve completed.
At Practicum, we publish annual reports with key data collected through online surveys of hundreds of alums. We also regularly interview our students so that we — and you — know how it fared for them during the bootcamp and beyond.
You can also see all important financial information in open source, like how and when can you apply for a course refund or a suspension in case if you need more time to accomplish your studies.
Now that you have the checklist of things to be aware of, make sure that whichever coding bootcamp you choose ticks all the boxes. And before anything else, check out what Practicum’s got to offer. You may find the bootcamp you’ve been looking for here.