Halfway Point of Launch School

Daniel Lew
Mar 10 · 4 min read

I know it’s fairly evident from the title of this article but I’m going to reiterate it again (mostly out of pride): I’ve made it halfway through Launch School.

This means that I’ve completed the Back-End portion of the Core Curriculum. I did this in just over 6 months putting in 20–30 hours a week, progressively contributing more time to my studies the deeper into the curriculum that I’ve gotten.

The reason I’m so proud of myself for doing so is that I came from a place of no exposure to programming, or even math really. I’ve almost exclusively held service industry jobs.

Every step along the way I thought I’d reach a wall and get stuck somewhere in the curriculum, where I’d be left in the dust by people who have been tinkering on and off for years, or have taken their time going through the curriculum, steering off the path, and going down multiple rabbit holes.

While that’s obviously a valid (and debatably better) approach, as I’ve seen some students create incredibly neat projects or learn something on their own that they were able to share with others, that was not the approach I took. Keeping yourself curious is definitely important as you’re going through, but for myself I know I can get lost in those rabbit holes, so I tended to lean towards staying on the Launch School track.

The point is I never hit that wall. I did however, run into another mental wall: There were times that I felt I wasn’t doing enough, but I remind myself that everyone has a different journey. It’s hard to be in this space, learning something in solitude, when we’re accustomed to compare ourselves to others for perspective on where we stand and how we’re doing.

Not everyone who is going through the Launch School program focuses on creating a portfolio of projects, and learning things beyond the scope of the program. I felt myself falling into a similar mindset that I always got annoyed at others for being in. I’ve heard this a lot: “I don’t like kids they’re so loud and obnoxious”. While yes, kids can be loud, but if you already don’t like kids, your brain is going to look for instances where kids are loud to confirm this. Not to mention that loud kids take up way more space and attention than quiet kids.

Which brings me back to my observation: Everyone in this program is creating complex projects while going through the course material.

Once again, we’re looking at a similar bias. We’re in isolation, so we don’t know the others in the program, we only see those that are contributing publicly, which means that they’re likely:

  1. Proud of what they’re accomplishing
  2. They’re doing something that is additional and worth sharing

Which also means that we’re more likely to:

  1. Remember the students that have contributed something beyond the program
  2. Attribute these exceptional projects by students as the norm.

The easiest way to to combat this is to do any of the following:

  1. Start diving down those rabbit holes, create a project that you’re proud of. This can be something that you work over the course of many months of your program, or something you take a detour from the curriculum for a couple weeks and finish.
  2. Meet more students, maybe this looks like contributing to conversations more often, or maybe it looks like creating a study group.
  3. Find people outside of the program you can talk to about programming, whether it’s a tech meetup, someone from your network who is also learning programming, or friends in the industry.
  4. Or, and this is the most cliché of all, trust the process. Realize that these are your own personal issues and that it really is a tried and true process, you will make it if you are committed.

Launch School does a great job encapsulating ideas and shielding us from what we don’t quite need to be concerned about. While not in Capstone yet, from what I can understand, everything in the curriculum prepares you for the Capstone, we don’t need to learn things beyond the scope of the program quite yet.

Something that I love doing is to look ahead at the exercises from the courses I’m not quite at yet, open them up, just look at them and take in how it looks like a completely different world at that point.

“There’s no way I can solve this” I think. Every time.

And when I get to the point where it’s time to do these exercises, I realize how easy it is.

Launch School has given me the confidence in my ability to learn complex topics and really proven to myself that I’m still capable of learning. I’ve been out of school for over 5 years, and the kind of learning I had been used to was to learn in a way that I could convince a test that I knew what I was doing. Not that I actually knew what I was doing.

Besides what we’re actually learning, how we’re learning is incredibly refreshing. I look forward to approaching the Front-End portion of the curriculum and coming to terms with everyones love/hate relationship with JavaScript.

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Daniel Lew

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