In 2012, the founders of Thinkful saw an opportunity in the education field and the tech industry. They decided to create a tech school designed to appeal to people looking for a midlife career change or for those who didn’t or couldn’t attend traditional colleges and universities. Beyond education, the founders at Thinkful saw an opportunity to improve the lives of attendees and diversify the tech industry.
We’ll explore the programs Thinkful offers currently, which programs fit different needs, and how you can finance your education at Thinkful.
Thinkful Program Structures
Thinkful programs strive to cater to students of many backgrounds, education levels, and professional experiences.
Thinkful offers two styles of programs: flex and immersion. In simpler terms, flex is a part-time program. Flex programs move at your own pace, but it’s recommended to spend about 20 hours a week on your coursework. Immersion programs require you to be a full-time student. These programs require around 50 to 60 hours of coursework a week.
Whichever Thinkful program you enroll in, you’re guaranteed flexible and holistic support from the team at Thinkful. Your first line of support is the 24/7 tech support via Slack. Current students find this feature very helpful as it’s not dependent on time zones and pre-appointed meetings. It gives you more flexibility in getting the support you need.
While the 24/7 support is great for small issues, if you’re going back to school or changing careers some personalized coaching is helpful. Thinkful has a team of specialists to offer 360 support for all their students. It starts with your academic success manager, who supports you in staying on track and managing your workload. Then there’s your mentor, a person working in the tech field who’s passionate about coaching emerging tech entrepreneurs. You’ll have biweekly, one-on-one virtual meetings with your mentor throughout your course. Finally, you’ll have access to a career coach to support you in your first job search in your new field.
When you finish your course work, you’ll receive a certificate of completion and become part of the Thinkful alumni network. All graduates of flex and immersion programs receive a certificate upon completion of their program. Keeping in touch with your instructors, mentor, and cohort members isn’t required but it’s strongly encouraged. You may have opportunities to pay it forward to new Thinkful students or get support from other alums.
Flex vs. Immersion
Whether you choose a flex or immersion program, Thinkful will prepare you for a career in that field. For example, if you compare engineering flex vs engineering immersion, your job prospects should look the same either way. Both courses cover essential material for jobs in the field. That said, there are some differences between flex and immersion programs that are important to understand.
Flex programs are self-paced. You can do as much as little each week as you want. Typically, Thinkful recommends students do around 20 hours a week. Depending on the content and your learning style, this might take you more or less time.
The flex programs range from 12 weeks long to 26 weeks long. While the program is self-paced, you are expected to complete it within a certain timeframe to receive your certificate. It requires self-discipline and good time management to maximize the flex program. If you’re nervous about these skills, discuss them with your academic success manager when you start the program.
Flex programs are less expensive than their immersion counterparts. This is primarily due to the instruction style. Lectures are pre-recorded so you can watch on your own schedule. While you have your mentor and other Thinkful resources, you do not have access to a teaching assistant (TA) during class.
A flex program might be a good fit for you if you have significant personal responsibilities and/or want to work part-time during your program. It could also be a good fit if you want to stay at your current employer but want to gain new skills to move within your company. Some employers might offer reduced hours or tuition reimbursement to do this.
The name is the most important thing you need to know; the immersion program requires focus and time. Bootcamps like Thinkful take less time overall because they ask students to focus intensely on the learning and work at hand.
Thinkful’s immersion programs typically require at least 35 hours a week for classroom and project time. That’s your typical work week; so it’s important you see the program as a full time job! Depending on which you choose, immersion programs take between 11-20 weeks to complete. They all feature a 2 week “catch up” time built in. This is time for you to focus on skills or tasks you struggled with or review particularly tricky concepts.
An immersion program might be a good fit for you if you view your time at Thinkful as an alternative to college or graduate school. You also may want to consider an immersion program if you’re looking at a shorter course. If you have the support to finance your living expenses while you go to school full time, this could be a great fit.
Financing Your Education
Student loan debt is a concern for most families in America today. Whether the heads of household are carrying loan debt from their own college experience or families are concerned about saving and supporting children’s education. Tech bootcamps like Thinkful are a great alternative to the traditional four year college experience.
Thinkful takes a fraction of the time to complete compared to a 4-year college. You will also have access to a career coach to support you in getting your first job, which many colleges don’t offer. And there’s the fact that Thinkful graduates increase their salary by $20,000 or more after graduation.
Tuition at Thinkful ranges from $4,500 to $18,500, depending on the program. Knowing that finances are an important factor for many applicants and students, Thinkful admissions staff reviews the financial options at the beginning of the application process. We’ll review the three basic financing options here.
If you’re leaving a full-time job to attend Thinkful, you might want to consider the pay in full option. This can be paid via wire transfer, check, or credit card. There is no interest and you will be free to start your new career without debt.
Then there’s the monthly payment option. This divides the total tuition across the months that you are enrolled. Let’s say you do Engineering Immersion (full-time). This program is 5 months at $16,000 for a monthly payment of $3,520. If you do Engineering Flex (part-time), you’re looking at 6 monthly payments of $1,300.
The final option is an ISA or Income Sharing Agreement. This loan is set up differently than your typical student loan. With the ISA’s offered at Thinkful, you’ll get your tuition covered in full. There is an option to get an ISA with a living stipend as well, which might be best if you want to do an immersion course.
When you sign the ISA agreement, you will sign on to pay a set percentage of your salary toward the ISA until your loan is paid off. The ISA will not charge you interest, which is a major difference from the traditional student loan set up. Every agreement varies, but the general guideline is that once you earn $40,000 or more you will pay 15% of your paycheck toward your ISA until the loan is paid back. (And don’t worry, there’s a cap on how much you’ll pay back).
Recently, Thinkful launched a deferred tuition plan for their flex courses. This means that you will enroll with no deposit. You don’t start paying your Thinkful tuition until you land a job. You complete your course just as you would any other program. Once you secure a qualifying job, you begin a repayment plan that spans 36 months (or three years).
Each financing option has its pros and cons. It’s important to review your financial situation thoroughly, talk with your family and support system, and make a sustainable financial plan. And when you speak with your Thinkful admissions rep, feel free to ask questions and talk through concerns. This is an important decision, so Thinkful outlined the options in their own words here.
The immersion program might be the right fit for you if you need to make a major career change and have few existing tech skills. Or maybe you don’t think traditional higher education (either four year colleges or graduate programs) is the right fit for you. You must be able to accommodate the structured hours M-F, roughly 9-5 daily. Working full time during an immersion program would not be possible.
Discounts and Perks
Thinkful wants to help people from different backgrounds start their careers in tech. This idea is infused in every layer of their planning and educational approach, even financing options.
Thinkful offers discounts on tuition for some underrepresented groups in tech. For veterans, Thinkful has created scholarship funds that reduce tuition by $100 a month. They’re also on the lookout for other opportunities to connect vets to resources outside of Thinkful.
Female identifying and gender non-binary folks are also underrepresented in the tech industry. Thinkful offers a specific scholarship for women and gender non-binary students through their web development program. Again, the staff at Thinkful is also happy to help students connect with additional resources and mentors.
Thinkful promises to help you in your career. Specifically getting a job in tech and increasing your salary. This is because they believe in the curriculums they’ve designed and they have thousands of students as proof.
But sometimes things don’t go the way we plan. Because of that Thinkful offers a tuition refund if you are not employed at a specific salary level within a given time. The staff at Thinkful is confident you won’t need to use this feature, but it is there just in case.
Ready to Get Started?
Thinkful strives to create opportunities for different people with different goals. They’ve created flex and immersion programs to meet those needs in the classroom. Financially, Thinkful takes the same approach, offering five different payment plans for different needs.
If you want to talk more about Thinkful’s programs, how to apply, and what financing options might work for you, set up a call with one of their admissions representatives today.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.