Brick buildings covered in ivy, professors in tweed jackets, and large lecture halls filled with young and peppy students– these images are commonly associated with the college experience. 2020 has changed this experience for colleges and universities across the board.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached global proportions, schools were forced to turn to remote learning. For most traditional colleges, their faculty, and their students, this was new territory. In March, industry publications began filling up with advice and best practices for moving to online teaching. Meanwhile, mainstream publications covered the increased workload and messy scramble as faculty tried to transition to the online classroom.
Much like the rest of our education system, App Academy had to make changes to its curriculum. Fortunately, App Academy had already been successfully teaching students online for over a year and was able to transition smoothly to be completely online.
This article will review changes made to the curriculum at App Academy. We’ll look at insights from students and staff who have participated in the online experience in 2020.
A Change in Location
Typically, App Academy’s 16-week courses are held in person on a campus in New York or San Francisco. For the upcoming terms at the end of December and in early 2021, all courses will be online. This means there’s a unique opportunity for applicants interested in App Academy to enroll without having to relocate or commute.
All admissions are also functioning online. You can start an application online at any time. All interviews and other communication can be conducted electronically.
What’s Changed in the Classroom
The biggest change App Academy instructors and their students faced was the switch from the benefits of the in-person classroom to the virtual classroom. App Academy instructor Brian Crawford Scott combatted the challenges of the virtual classroom by clarifying his expectations with students. He said this was essential, “[setting] clear expectations around things like attendance, webcam usage, how to communicate with instructors, etc was essential.”
At this point, we all understand how draining a day full of Zoom meetings can feel. It’s not harder or easier, it’s just… different. Essentially, that’s what the App Academy experience is now. There are lectures to watch, live classroom experiences, and breakout rooms where you pair-program. Scott states, “We use a variety of tools from simple Question and Answer threads in Zoom chat or Slack, to tools like Slido and Kahoot to keep students asking questions and engaged.” The instructors know this format is harder to maintain long term and strive to make the classroom dynamic.
Pair programming is a common tool used in software engineering and at App Academy as well. This collaborative coding is slightly harder to do virtually, but the App Academy team has a solution: “App Academy uses a ‘Driver/Navigator’ approach to pair programming: one person, the driver, controls the mouse and keyboard; the other person, the navigator, communicates high level plan and problem solving. A pair will switch off these roles every 15 min.” When it’s time for pair programming, the instructor designates break out rooms for students and they work using this technique.
Students and staff noted that this environment does lose some of the camaraderie of an in-person experience. A recent graduate, Nyki said, “The day consisted of 1:1 meetings with another student, and in a regular environment you might have someone come by and ask how you both were doing, or how they solved a problem, but we were placed in breakout rooms and were alone for most of the day.” However, both students interviewed for this article said they came out of the experience with cohort members they would call friends. From the instructors’ perspective, they noted it was harder to keep the classes’ energy levels high in the virtual classroom.
While these differences are important, they are similar to the challenges experienced across workplaces and classrooms since the start of the global pandemic.
What’s Stayed the Same
Anyone involved with a coding bootcamp will tell you they are intense. That has not changed since App Academy’s move to the virtual classroom.
Students need discipline and determination to make it through the long days. In describing her day, Nyki said she filled most of her time with studying or prepping for class, the class itself, and then some time for breaks to eat and walk around. Instructor Brian Crawford Scott advises, “Routine and healthy habits are the only proven ways to make it through the marathon of a coding bootcamp (and App Academy really is a tough marathon). We work really hard to provide a structure that promotes discipline and good habits.”
Underlying that discipline and determination is motivation. Students considering App Academy really need to know what their “why” is to make it through bootcamp. Is your “why” enough to get you through the challenges, intense learning, and length?
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the values students have found in their App Academy experience. Dillon had to leave college due to the pandemic and picked up at App Academy instead. In talking about his experience, he said “This program is absolutely amazing. It is long and hard but it is absolutely worth it. I honestly learned more in the first twelve weeks of this program than I learned in my entire CS degree.”
Nyki had a different background coming into App Academy, but she still found the experience rewarding. She noted the program was “immensely grateful” for the experience. A highpoint for Nyki was, “in the end where we started fleshing out fully functional applications, and we would all dream about having full time jobs, our new salaries, and having rewarding work.”
With these students’ comments, it seems that App Academy’s work to retain the quality of their program has paid off.
Varied Financing Options
Recently, politicians and the media have covered the crushing student loan debt in America. On average, college grads in 2020 will have $30k in student loan debt. And yet there are still many people who acquire student loan debt but do not complete their degree.
Bootcamps like App Academy are disrupting the traditional education financing by offering multiple options with a variety of payment plans. App Academy has several financing options that can help get the coding education you want and budget for your long term goals.
The lowest payment plan is to pay in full on the first day of enrollment for a price tag of $17,000. Keep in mind, the average cost of 1 year of college tuition is between $9,000-$35,000 a year. App Academy’s pay in full price tag falls on the lower end of this spectrum. Paying in full is ideal if you have good savings or you can get partial financing through a current employer.
If you don’t have $17,000 offhand, you might want to consider one of the hybrid financing options offered. Option A offers a refundable deposit of $3,000 upfront with the remainder paid after you are hired for your first job after App Academy. In total, you’d pay $25,000. Hybrid option B requires you to pay $9,000 upfront and $14,000 after you’re hired. With this option, you’d be $23,000 in total.
Finally, App Academy offers traditional student loan financing through Climb. With this, you’d begin monthly payments plus interest during your time at App Academy. This spreads the payments out over a longer period of time, which could be the best option for you.
Regardless of which payment plan you choose, it’s important that you review your finances and make a sustainable financial plan before you invest in App Academy. If you choose a hybrid option you are still taking on debt. On the flip side, you are likely to increase your salary after App Academy. Everyone will have a different option that fits best for them. Feel free to talk through financing options when you speak with your admissions rep at App Academy.
Setting Students up for Success
App Academy has taken the time and effort to adjust its virtual classroom to maintain its standards. They have worked with students to help them manage the challenges of the intense bootcamp experience and the virtual classroom.
If you’ve been interested in App Academy in the past, now might be the time to take advantage of their virtual experience. You can start the process here.
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