Over the past seven years, V School has undergone significant transformations and is now making its mark with a revolutionary learning model that foregoes the traditional time-based constraints.
The school believes that everyone’s life and experiences are unique, thus our education should be too. With this in mind, it has come up with a one-of-a-kind learning model that takes time out of the equation, replacing it with proficiency-based goals instead.
“Our plan is to be around for the long haul. This means offering the best possible curriculum and support that leads to the best possible outcomes,” V School Co-Founder Mo Reeder said.
To gain a clearer understanding of what V School has in store for tech aspirants, let’s take a closer look at its mission statement, education model, and other offerings as follows:
V School only has one goal; to ensure that students graduate and get the job that they desire. With this in mind, the school customized its curriculum specific to students’ backgrounds and learning needs.
“We think time is a terrible indication of someone’s mastery. Instead of plowing through your lessons, you can do it at your own pace and move on to the next level when you are ready. This is what we call mastery-based learning,” Mr. Reeder added.
“We go out of business unless our students get a job. We are “married” to you. You can be here for 9 months, for instance, and never pay us a dime until you start working. That’s the kind of technical school we are building.”
Meanwhile, Director of Education at V School Bob Ziroll said: “The fundamental philosophical differences between most schools and V School is what sets us apart. We don’t consider our students ‘graduates’ until they get their first full-time job in the field of their study. Most institutions consider you an alumnus once you finish sitting through their courses.
“At V School, we first find out what the industry wants in candidates, then teach those skills to our students. No fluff, just applicable skills, including a heavy emphasis on job preparation and soft skills.”
To support the outcomes-based model, each student is assigned a dedicated Student Success Mentor whom they can convene with weekly. The Mentors will provide guidance and help create a custom plan of action that sets a clear path on how to get to that dream job.
In addition, they provide emotional support throughout the process and act as a V School liaison for any questions or needs from the student.
V School offers a hybrid model consisting of asynchronous lessons where all of the materials are readily accessible online, paired with in-time mentorships and live standups to accommodate all learning styles. The classes are also small in size—with a 7:1 student-to-instructor ratio—to ensure that everyone gets equal opportunity to tackle the lessons.
“We know that everyone is different—you might be a father working three shifts, or a professional from a non-tech background who’s affected by the pandemic. So we offer an asynchronous curriculum so you can learn at your leisure without the added pressure of time.
“We use Scrimba as it allows students to code next to a video tutorial. They are free to watch, pause, and rewind as they please. However, we also want to be there for you so the minute you raise your hands, there will be someone available to help with your problems. We are talking about real support available round-the-clock on Slack, regardless of timezones.”
A web development instructor, who is also a V School alum, Marcus Peterson said his positive experience with V School was what pushed him to spend more time learning and growing through his career with the team.
“Every instructor and TA has an interest in helping the students find success, especially because many of us were once in their position and we want to help them get the same success we have found.
“The responsive program enables students to move at the pace that works for them, and ensures that everyone who finishes V School has a sound understanding of all of the concepts we teach, rather than just a familiarity with them.”
Diverse and Tight-Knit Community
V School is proactively playing its part in making the tech industry a more inclusive and diverse arena as evident in its past efforts. It has also become a ‘melting pot’ for tech enthusiasts of all backgrounds with veterans and women coders making up 30% and 50% respectively of its current student body.
As a continuation of these efforts, this year, the school is giving away $1 million in scholarships to veterans, other minorities in tech, and tech aspirants from historically-underestimated communities.
“Diversity shows up when you eliminate the barriers that impede someone from finding the right resources. In the early days, we gave free housing, free laptop, free bus pass, and train pass—basically every support we could think of,” Mr. Reeder said.
He said that the close ties among the V School family extend beyond classroom hours, adding that the school typically hosts get-togethers to encourage community members to socialize and get to know one another on a more personal level.
“Once you’re in, you’ll have access to our secret parties where we play board games, sip on our favorite drinks, share lots of laughter, swap personal information, and even attend secret concerts. It’s like V School’s own secret clubhouse.”
Check out our previous article to hear what V School graduates have to say about their alma mater.
Flexible Financing Options
As mentioned, V School offers a wide array of scholarships to help ease students’ financial burden. Its latest initiative is a $6,000-scholarship dubbed You Belong in Tech, which is awarded on a weekly basis until funding lasts. This scholarship was announced in response to social and economic inequality and the financial hardships faced globally. At the time of publication, V School still has $1 million dollars left in funding, which can benefit hundreds of students.
There are also options such as G.I. Bill and loans. Additionally, students can take advantage of its Income Share Agreement (ISA), a shared-risk option of lending that now 40% of V School’s student body has chosen to use since introduction in 2017.
The ISA program allows students to get started on their education promptly without having to worry about their education fees. In exchange, students will agree to pay back a percentage of their paycheck once they land a job earning over an agreed-upon amount.
“Payment is never a reason you shouldn’t attend V School. We’re going to find a way for it to work for you financially. We have good partners in the space. The point is your life is better with V School and not stressful,” the school said.
Lifelong Career Support
At V School, students are guaranteed lifelong access to its career team which includes assistance with technical interviews, resumes, and networking. This is a great perk that can help its alumni stay on top of the game and continue to upskill, even if they’re already holding a prominent position in the tech-o-sphere.
“Realistically, the chances are, you’re not going to land your dream job right out the gate. It happens, of course. We have stories of our graduates making it from a restaurant straight to Adobe, but more often, it’s a process. You’re always going to keep transitioning to something bigger.
How It Started
Established in 2013, the school had its start as a web development shop called Verisage in Utah. As time grew, the projects began to require more in-depth technical skills and that was when the shortage of local tech talent became more apparent to the stakeholders.
To address this, the founders decided to train some friends who shared the same interests in tech, and soon after, V School became a collaborative avenue for technologists in Utah to convene, learn, and work alongside each other.
“Our main focus with the dev shop was to build beautiful software so we were also very specific and intentional about the projects we picked up. Having a tight-knit community is important to us so we chose to work with friends and this inspired the co-working space slash training hub.
“This was back when the concept was still foreign. We were just doing what we thought made sense. We received a lot of support from various quarters, including then-Mayor, now-Congressman John Curtis,” the school said.
Over the years, Coding Campus was formed as an extension of Verisage, offering the same community-centric vocational training. In 2016, the school rebranded as V School and took in Mo Reeder, former Regional Campus Director at General Assembly (San Francisco) and Chief Creative Officer at DevMountain, as its Chief Operating Officer.
“Michael Zaro (founder) and I learned a lot from our experiences over the years. We were taking notes of the do’s and don’ts and we knew that when it’s our turn to do it, we have to create the best in class. It is important for us to do the right thing so we made sure that our offerings are directly aligned with the industry,” Mr. Reeder said.
Since its early days, the school has been committed to empowering underestimated communities and minorities in tech including people of color, LGBTQIIA+, veterans, women, and refugees. Mr. Reeder said this was a part of V School’s overall efforts to make the industry an inclusive and diverse space.
“Early on, we decided that we must take proactive steps to promote inclusion and diversity. Initially, this was a scary decision to make because it didn’t seem profitable but we went ahead with it anyway because it was the right thing to do.
“We opened up a school in the Middle East to teach coding to refugees who were affected by the Syria-Lebanon crisis. Being a bootstrapped organization, we held our breaths and sent half of our staff across the world. We were fortunate to have good partners that helped pull that off.
“We also partnered with MIT and BYU for a bootcamp in Ghana but because the situation is now unstable, it is tough to go back and continue these initiatives. Our altruistic bend proved to be our top quality because when we came back, high-profile corporations took note of our efforts and decided to collaborate on several projects,” he said.
Since then, V School has gone on and worked with a number of respectable corporations and nonprofits alike. It was even entrusted to train future employees at Adobe, among others.
What Can I Learn at V School?
Rooted in reality, this course aims at equipping students with the right tools to become ‘a flexible, collaborative, effective’ user experience designer that the industry is looking for. In this course, students will learn technical skills such as UX/UI Design, Information Architecture, and Design Strategy, alongside soft skills like collaboration and communication techniques.
Where Can I Go After V School?
The short answer is, anywhere you want! Some of V School’s graduates have landed a job at the biggest corporations in the likes of Apple, Adobe, IBM, and O.C. Tanner. Meanwhile, some others have embarked on their own entrepreneurial journey. V School’s curriculum is designed to prepare students for some of the most sought-after jobs in tech such as software developers, app developers, UX/UI designers, and tech consultants.
Sign Up for V School Today
V School is changing tech education by taking time out of the equation. Students can now fully concentrate on mastering a skill without worrying about the duration it takes to get from Point A to Point B. The school says this also allows students to demonstrate their technical abilities well upon graduation, making them a prime candidate for future employers.
“Most institutions are bound by a time limit—they need to graduate students within a certain amount of time. Because of this, many students leave their studies with an incomplete portion of what they really need to know to thrive in the real world.
“Our responsive learning model enables students to focus on understanding and application of concepts as opposed to focusing on ‘finishing in time’. Using evidence-based pedagogy, this model helps students learn and apply concepts before allowing them to move on to build on them,” Mr. Ziroll said.
If you’re interested to learn more, head on over to V School’s website or click here to start your admissions process.