Your Guide to Choosing the Best Coding Bootcamp: Key Questions to Ask
If you’re interested in learning to code, a software development bootcamp can be a way to gain the skills you need to jumpstart your career in tech. These programs are intensive courses that can take you from knowing nothing about coding to being a confident software engineer with more career opportunities.
But with so many options out there, some that are better quality and others that are better left alone, it can be a bit overwhelming. How do you choose the right one? The best way to find one that fits your learning style, goals, and budget is by asking the right questions. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to make a smart decision about your future.
What’s on the curriculum?
The curriculum is a critical factor when choosing a coding bootcamp. What coding languages and technologies are taught? It should cover languages that are in high demand. It’s also important to know if it teaches front end, back end, or is full stack.
Look for curriculums that are up-to-date and relevant to current industry standards. The world of tech is constantly evolving and you want to make sure you’ll be learning about concepts that will give you a competitive edge in the job market and not outdated technologies.
We have our own opinion on what a well structured curriculum looks like. But take a look for yourself, explore our curriculum and see why we're sure you'll agree
How qualified and experienced are the instructors?
A coding course is nothing without quality instructors. You want to be taught by people who know what they’re talking about and have the knowledge and expertise in the latest coding languages and technologies.
It’s important to research the instructors to see if they have experience working in the tech industry. If they have taught code before, even better. It’s become very common for bootcamps to use their recent graduates, who don’t have experience teaching, as their own instructors, making the quality of the education for the students much lower.
Instructors with actual experience not only can give you useful insights into the real-world application of coding skills and industry best-practices, but also help you understand what tech companies are looking for in an ideal software engineer.
These teachers won’t just teach you but they also guide you and essentially become mentors who will work to help you find success in your career. This means that it’s also crucial to know if they’re actively involved in the tech community. Do they attend or speak at conferences? Do they work on open-source projects? These types of instructors are passionate about their work and committed to staying updated with the latest industry trends, which means you’ll be more likely to receive a high-quality learning experience.
Is it full-time or part-time?
Whether you prefer a program that is full-time or part-time depends on your own individual needs such as your work, education, or family situation. However, in general, a full-time program tends to be more intensive, and overall, more effective. Since they’re more intensive this means you’ll learn programming skills in a matter of months through hands-on experience that’ll help you learn new concepts quickly. We believe that investing your time in the learning process is worth it if you want to work as a software engineer because it really does pay off.
That’s why our course at arol.dev is 12 weeks long with one rest week. It’s a full-time and intensive program that makes the most of the learning curve. From Monday to Saturday, you’ll be fully immersed in the world of coding. Don’t worry, there’s no homework. Once you log off, that time is for you to disconnect, relax, do things you enjoy outside of coding, and recharge.
Are soft skills taught?
If there are no soft skills taught then you’ll miss out on some major elements of the software engineering profession.
Soft skills are character traits that enable you to interact and communicate well with others, making you an essential team player. These are non-technical skills that anyone can have. They have to do with emotional intelligence and other personal qualities. Some examples of soft skills are effective communication, leadership, being able to effectively give and receive feedback, problem solving, teamwork, and time management.
There are many bootcamps solely focused on the technical aspects of being a programmer and completely exclude teaching soft skills which are necessary to succeed in any type of job. Having top coding skills is great but if you don’t have soft skills then no one will pay attention to the technical part. Companies want a well-rounded professional: a team player, who brings quality and contributes to the overall success of the organization.
What do the alumni have to say?
Check reviews: Are they recent? How many are there? Do the reviews seem trustworthy? They should be mostly positive with similar recurring praises. If you keep seeing the same negative points being brought up, then that bootcamp is probably not worth your time. It’s also important to note how the school responds to negative reviews or if they even do at all.
The most reliable way is to find and contact ex-students to ask what their experience was like, was it worth it, and if they’d recommend the program. Someone who went through the bootcamp is more likely to be completely honest with you and could give useful advice in finding the right coding course.
Is it remote or onsite?
Decide which location works best for you and your learning style. Coding bootcamps can be remote or onsite. Studying remotely offers you the flexibility of learning from anywhere while doing the program onsite gives you a more immersive learning experience.
Doing it remotely is ideal for people who can’t relocate. It also is a good simulation of what it’s like to work remotely full-time which is the norm for many tech companies. While it does allow you to work comfortably from home, it’s also crucial to have strong self-discipline and time management skills. Without the structure of being onsite, it can be difficult at times to stay motivated and keep up with the course so in this case, it’s important to stay in touch with other remote students and support each other. If you decide to study remotely, make sure the bootcamp prioritizes the online learning process so you don’t miss out on things and can live the full experience.
Studying in person allows for face-to-face interactions with your instructors but also with your fellow peers. This can help students learn more effectively. Plus, it can lead to useful networking opportunities. The downside of being onsite is that it can be a big barrier to overcome for some students who aren’t able to make the commute or relocate.
Luckily, arol.dev gives you a choice. Just like how most companies these days work with hybrid teams: employees in the office and others working remotely, we do the same. You can choose between doing the program remotely or onsite at our campus in Barcelona. For our remote students, we ensure that they’re supported, engaged, and don’t miss out on anything. We even have a hybrid option meaning you can do the first half of the course remotely and then join us in person for the second half, or vice versa. You decide and we’ll do our part to give you a personalized learning experience.
How much does it cost and does it have financial aid?
Coding bootcamps can be costly, so it may be essential to consider the cost of the program and any financing options available. Some offer payment plans, scholarships, or other types of financing, such as tuition reimbursement programs, that make the course more affordable.
Look for academies that are transparent about their costs. Bootcamps that are upfront about their costs and make it easy to find their prices can help you make an informed decision about whether the program is right for you.
Keep in mind that you pay for what you get. If a program has a very low cost, it may not be of the best quality. On the other hand, a course that is too expensive might not be worth the investment either. It’s important to find the balance between quality and cost to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
We don’t like to hide things at arol.dev. We are who we are and we’re proud of that. Meaning that our tuition information is clear and easy to find on our website. We offer different types of payment options and scholarships like the Income Share Agreement (ISA) option where you only pay to secure your spot in our course and start paying the tuition once you graduate and land a job. With these payment solutions, we work to make our program accessible to as many people as possible.
What’s the student-to-instructor ratio?
You want to make sure that you have access to instructors when you need help. Look for bootcamps that have a low student-to-instructor ratio. This means you'll receive more personalized attention and support during the program.
A smaller class size gives you more opportunities to receive the guidance you specifically need to succeed and it allows you to become closer with your peers and learn from each other. In general, it makes it easier to adapt the program to your learning style and lets you get to know your instructors and classmates better, creating a more close-knit and united group.
How much hands-on coding experience will you get?
Without practical teaching, you won't be able to master programming concepts and skills. It’s important to understand the fundamentals of coding but you also need hands-on projects that allow you to apply what you’ve learned.
The right bootcamp will allow you to develop practical skills by letting you work on real-world projects using industry standard tools. This experience will also look great on your CV and give you some quality material for your portfolio to showcase your skills to potential employers.
How is the admission process?
The existence and quality of an admission process can show you the standards of a bootcamp. This process is meant to assess the skills of students and if they’re a good match for the program.
Having a “weak” admission process, or lack thereof, can be a red flag that the bootcamp:
Has a lower quality of education.
Might not challenge students and help them grow.
Doesn’t offer students the support and guidance they need.
Isn’t very credible, meaning employers will be less likely to hire graduates of that bootcamp.
A more selective process means you’ll be studying with a group of talented and motivated students, there will be more diversity, and you’ll be more likely to have better career outcomes.
What job placement assistance do they offer?
One of the primary reasons for attending a coding bootcamp is to improve your chances of landing a quality job in the tech industry. So look for a course that offers job placement assistance, such as CV reviews, job search strategies, and interview preparation.
You want to join a place that will help you and cares about your future. Do they have a strong alumni network? Do they offer you networking opportunities and mentoring? The right coding academy will give you the chance to work on real projects to build your professional experience and provide all the resources and support you need so you can find the job you want.
What happens once you graduate?
Once you’re done with the program, how will the bootcamp support you? Or will they even stay involved or follow up with you at all?
A quality bootcamp will work to stay in touch with you after you graduate in quite a few ways but a key element is having a strong alumni community. This group of graduates is important because it's a great source of networking, it’s a place to share knowledge and help others, and it gives everyone involved a sense of belonging. Having a strong alumni community helps improve the reputation of a bootcamp, making it more credible.
After you graduate, you should also receive continued guidance from mentors and help with your job search. At arol.dev, we keep in close contact with alumni through regular check-ins, even after they’ve found jobs. We offer lifelong career guidance and support because our students aren’t clients, they’re members of our community. They can count on us if they want to improve, pursue another position, or work at a different company.
We also offer our alumni the opportunity to work on real projects, thanks to our partnership with companies like Homeless Entrepreneur, which works to end homelessness by empowering people out of poverty. Not only are our graduates creating a great product and gaining valuable experience, but they are also able to make a real impact and help improve people’s lives.
Don’t rush this process. Take your time to properly research bootcamps and academies, ask questions, talk to the people behind them and graduates, and find one that fits your needs. This is an investment in your future success and you want to make sure that you are making the right decision for yourself.
If you’re looking for a high-quality, challenging program then arol.dev is the way to go. We don’t identify ourselves as a coding bootcamp but rather as a software engineering academy. We’re breaking the mold that bootcamps use. At our program we work individually with each student to increase their skills so they can progress their career in less time. It doesn’t matter if they have experience in coding or not; if they have the will to work, we’ll find the way to help them become software engineers. Book a call with one of our instructors or come join us online (or in-person) at one of our events here.