Holberton School’s Enrollments Show How They Care About Equal Opportunities

Some of the students enrolling in the class of January 2016

Humanity is known to be bad in giving equal opportunities. With the World’s History filled with important events related to that, and recent events re-ignited this unwanted spark — the controversy in this year’s edition of the Oscars is a good example.

Fortunately, some people and organizations send signs that times are changing. Holberton School, an “alternative” college that offers a disruptive Software Engineering curriculum, makes the equality of opportunities a flagship of their operation, something that is corroborated by their class of January 2016.

That class has 33 students, 40% of which are women and 44% are non-white people. Also, the range of ages within those 33 students goes from 17 to over 50, which clearly shows that age is not a limitation for Holberton School.

But how have they achieved these numbers? The key resides in the admission process they use, which is software driven. Candidates go through a four-step selection process, based only on talent and motivation, and not on the basis of educational degree, programming experience, and especially not on their gender, race, age, origin, or other irrelevant and personal characteristics.

These are the four steps:

  • Level 0: filling of a short online form about themselves (2–10 minutes).
  • Level 1: small online projects and tests that applicants can do at their own pace (2-10 hours of work).
  • Level 2: step by step challenge, where applicants create a website within a specific deadline (~50 hours of work).
  • Level 3: on-site/Skype interview.

This is a much better approach than others that, for example, select women only because they are women. Doing can send a wrong message, that they have not earned their place, and can have bad results, because this can result in selecting women who are not meant to be programmers — something that could not be farthest from the truth.

Holberton School is, therefore, widely establishing new paradigms. This is true not only for their disruptive curriculum and general method of teaching, but also in the way they select their students, which positively contributes to equal opportunities for everyone.