Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton are just a few elite colleges in the US. These schools are embedded in our culture as the best of the best; if you go to one of these schools, every door will be opened to you after graduation. Or, that’s what we’ve been led to believe.
Even if you don’t get into one of the Ivy League schools, the popular opinion is that if you get a college degree you’re going to have a good job and a good career. While folks with college degrees do better than those without, it might be more educational to look at how people who graduated from college in 2020 compare to those that graduated in 1990 or 1970.
Let’s look at the money. First, the cost of college has gone up significantly in the last 30 years. Between 1985-2018, the cost of college has doubled across the board. Second, we see that income has not kept up with the increased cost of higher education. Data shows that college tuition is 50% of men’s median income and 80% of women’s median income.
And then there’s student loan debt. It’s hardly surprising this has been coined a national crisis when you see how much the cost of higher education has increased. The average student loan debt is around $30,000 per person, which is roughly half of one year at Harvard.
Looking at the numbers, it doesn’t seem like a great investment. And with the traditional college experience, there’s no guarantee on when you’ll get a job or that it will be in your field of study.
Bootcamps like Thinkful saw this issue and wanted to create something to fill the void. We’ll take a look at Thinkful’s mission and how they’re working to make careers in tech financially accessible.
Understanding Thinkful’s Roots
When talking about the beginning of Thinkful, founder Dan Friedman said, “What we knew was that adults needed a better, more efficient way to build skills that would let them succeed in their career.” With that in mind, Thinkful has created a student-centered bootcamp experience.
Thinkful chose to focus on cultivating relationships between students and their educators. Thinkful’s team believes that the best learning happens when students feel connected and supported. That’s why they have developed a strong support team for each student including a mentor, an Academic Success Advisor (ASA), and a career coach.
In addition to creating a learning environment where students can thrive, Thinkful’s staff is also focused on student’s experiences after they leave. Founder Dan Friedman stressed the importance of students finding a career rather than a job after they leave Thinkful. To that end, Thinkful conducted a survey of graduates more than 1 year after they completed their course. From the roughly 300 respondents, the survey showed that the majority of students continued to excel in their field after they landed their first job.
Thinkful’s courses are conducted remotely. With COVID, this is a vital practice, but Thinkful’s program has always been fully remote. This means that as long as you have a reliable internet connection and an appropriate computer, you can complete a Thinkful course.
As we explained, Thinkful sees human connection and mentorship as vital to the learning process. Due to the remote nature of the Thinkful classroom, connecting with your education team might seem more difficult.
However, Thinkful works to overcome these challenges. Students and mentors share their availability, with a priority on the student’s free time. Career Coaches and ASA’s work to stay connected with students through regular meetings and availability via Slack. Additionally, there’s a 24/7 chat line for basic technical support.
Lowering Financial Barriers
More than half of American’s do not have $1000 on hand to pay for an emergency event. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine people would have several thousands of dollars available to pay for enrollment at a bootcamp. Thinkful offers a variety of payment plans to help folks from different income brackets finance their education.
Recently, Thinkful rolled out a deferred tuition plan. It’s pretty straightforward. You apply and upon acceptance, you select the deferred tuition plan. From your date of enrollment to completion of your course you pay Thinkful $0. You don’t pay anything until you accept a qualifying job. When you do start paying tuition, you’ll have fixed monthly payments.
There are some parameters for using the deferred tuition plan. Deferred tuition is now available for immersion and flex programs. Additionally, the job you accept after you complete your coursework needs to meet a minimum salary requirement. You can learn more about this program and see sample payment plans here.
If you’re interested in doing an immersion course, you might want to consider the Income Share Agreement (ISA). Like deferred tuition, you pay $0 when you enroll and throughout your program. However, you sign on to pay a percentage of your salary for a fixed period of time. This means you can’t anticipate your monthly payments until you have your starting salary.
Either way, you will be taking on debt. The tuition for an entire program at Thinkful is significantly less than one year at Harvard, but it’s still an important financial decision. Make sure you take the time to consider all the implications for you and your loved ones when making your decision.
During your application process, feel free to ask your Admissions Representative questions about financing options. They can help you determine which financing option meets your needs.
A Work In Progress
Working for access and equity in education is always a work in progress.
Our society has changed so much in 2020 alone. The scientific community shattered records and developed a viable COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year, when the previous record was four years. This was thanks largely to technology that allowed scientists’ results and discoveries to be shared in real time around the world.
Thinkful has evolved since its founding in 2012. Dan Friedman confessed, in the beginning, they didn’t really know how they wanted Thinkful to be different from other bootcamps, but “What we knew was that adults needed a better, more efficient way to build skills that would let them succeed in their career.” Thinkful evolved from there.
The staff at Thinkful are continuing to work on making their programs more accessible to people from different education levels and backgrounds. If you want to learn more about Thinkful and the opportunities they offer, get started here.
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.