Should You Study Independently or Take a Prep Course to Get Into a Coding Bootcamp?

There are more coding jobs available today than people to fill them. But most don’t want to go back to school for four years to earn a degree, let alone pay the $200,000 sticker price to get it. So interested applicants tend to choose between two main paths to learn programming: independent study or prep courses.

Bootcamps are a great option because they (usually) require only three months of intense work, teach practical skills required by tech companies, and help people land high paying jobs as developers. Studying independently can also be a good option but there are many potential landmines that could affect the education quality. 

Let’s make a list of the pros and cons:

Self-Study: Pros Self-Study: Cons Prep Course: Pros Prep Course: Cons
  • Free
  • Learn on own time
  • Don’t know what to study
  • No guarantee you’ll be accepted
  • Have to maintain own motivation
  • No structure
  • Learn exactly what you need to get into a bootcamp
  • Held to a schedule with clear structure
  • Assistance with your application
  • Instructors can explain every line of code
  • 1-on-1 tutoring hours and interview hours
  • Costs money

Self Studying: I’ll make that list tomorrow

While studying on your own is free and you can do it on your own time, an unstructured schedule often leads to procrastination. Without putting money into it, you don’t feel like you have as much of an obligation to do it, or you may not value it at all. You’ll keep putting it off and you won’t feel like you’ve lost anything because you didn’t pay any money towards it. You also won’t know what to study or what you need to know to increase your chance of acceptance into the program.

A student of App Academy’s Bootcamp Prep course, Artem Ipatev, described what it was like trying to learn on his own and found he frustratingly lost a lot of time trying to learn non-relevant material.

“I tried studying by myself before and couldn’t do it properly because you are new and you don’t understand what to learn and what to skip. You spend days to understand the piece of new information which you even don’t need,” Ipatev said.

Prep Courses: On your mark, get set, APPLY!

A well-structured prep course like App Academy’s Bootcamp Prep teaches the technical and communication skills you need to get accepted.

The information you’re taught at a prep course comes in a scheduled and organized fashion to help you understand the material. Instructors are there to help you every step of the way through lectures, 1:1 Q&A sessions, line-by-line code reviews, and more. The head of App Academy’s Prep curriculum, Alvin Zablan, says that by the end of the prep course, the student should be ready to tackle any admissions process and will be ahead of other students once the full-time program starts.

It’s also key to note that although most prep courses cost money — you get what you pay for. Graduating from a bootcamp with high acceptance rates typically reduces your chance of getting a job and yields starting salaries around $70,000, on average. App Academy, on the other hand, has the highest placement and salary numbers in the industry, with grads earning a median starting salary of $105,000. That’s a huge difference. It’s likely you’ll make back what you spend in the first year after graduation and long-term, you’ll earn a lot more.

App Academy’s Prep Courses: Why risk getting in, when you can guarantee it?

The tuition you pay for App Academy’s prep course reduces your overall deposit to the full-time program. Not only that, but this prep course guarantees acceptance into at least one of the top bootcamps. If you don’t get into App Academy, Fullstack Academy, Hack Reactor, Flatiron School, Galvanize, or Actualize, you get your money back.

Another benefit to taking App Academy’s Bootcamp Prep is that you’ll get to skip the first step in the admissions process (a coding challenge) and jump ahead to the interview portion. This expedites your application and dramatically increases your likelihood of acceptance into App Academy.

There’s a big difference between top coding bootcamps and the rest as illustrated by their acceptance rates. Top bootcamps like App Academy are getting harder to get into, with rates as low as, if not lower than, Ivy League colleges. App Academy’s acceptance rate, for example, is five percent (that’s harder than Harvard!). And if you don’t have an understanding of web development basics like objects, booleans, and arrays, it will be difficult to be admitted into the program.

Prep courses are important because they help you learn what you need to get into a top coding bootcamp in a short amount of time. Additionally, you’ll get assistance with your application that will put you over the edge and into the bootcamp of your choice. This small investment is likely to change the trajectory of your career, both personally and financially.

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