The Community Spirit and Success of Smooth Start Cohort 4

Launch School
Launch School
Published in
5 min readMar 12, 2024

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Greetings Launch School community! This is Karis, coordinator of the Smooth Start Program 👋. Following the success of the previous cohort, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate the positive impact of our most recent iteration: Smooth Start Cohort 4.

A Quick Recap of Smooth Start

For those who don’t know, Smooth Start is a 4-week orientation program for new Launch School students designed to:

  • Introduce new Software Engineer students to Launch School and learn more about the Core Curriculum, Capstone and the Software Engineering Industry
  • Provide an opportunity to connect with our vibrant online community
  • Discover community resources and tools to optimize learning
  • Make study buddies and ask questions to seasoned students and working Software Engineer alumni
  • Help new students feel more welcome as a free-to-join program, open to all who are interested.

Cohort 4’s Continuing Success

Building on the efforts of the last 3 cohorts, Cohort 4 brought together a group of 100+ participants, guided by 9 student Leads. Leads created a space for students to build study habits and ask questions, and also participated in Q&A sessions as Smooth Start guest speakers. New to Cohort 4, student Q&As provided an invaluable perspective for new students to learn from an experienced student’s journey through the Core Curriculum, and how they mastered programming fundamentals.

Cohort 4 also introduced in-meeting and post-meeting group exercises designed to help practice and build collaboration skills. Using Gather Town’s virtual space, students had the opportunity to meet after weekly calls and work on group-oriented exercises, fostering stronger connections.

Working Software Engineer “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Session

In our final week of Smooth Start, Leads organized a special “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session featuring several Capstone graduates currently working as Software Engineers. This session invited students to draw on the Capstone grads’ wealth of knowledge. Discussions included their personal journey through Launch School, advice on the job hunting process, and the daily life of a Software Engineer. This was another invaluable opportunity for Smooth Start participants to gain insights from those who have already transitioned into a Software Engineering career.

Thank you’s

As we wrap up Cohort 4, I’d like to first express my gratitude to all the Leads who dedicated their time to help orient new students through Launch School. Your commitment and ongoing efforts made such a difference in shaping new students’ first experiences of Launch School.

I’d also like to extend my thank you’s to the guest speakers and alumni who volunteered their time to inspire and guide the next generation of Launch School students. Your willingness to share insights and personal experiences has been been vital for students and is one of the biggest reasons for this program’s continuing success.

And of course, a big thank you to all the students who participated in our 4th Smooth Start cohort. Your enthusiasm, friendliness, and commitment to showing up each week is what makes this community so unique and special. The staff, TA’s and senior students welcome you to Launch School and look forward to helping you through your software engineering journey.

As we all know, student feedback is important to us. So I’d like to leave you with some of the wonderful feedback we’ve already received from our fourth cohort:

“After a long period of searching I have found the right school. I like that it is mastery based and it prepares one for a “career” in software development and not just a way to make money. Students all appear to be vested in a high level of achievement.”

“It was really great to be able to talk to people in all parts of the journey. From people who were just a couple of courses in, to a graduate who was now on hiring panels.”

“I loved the guest speakers! We had two people that were far into the Core Curriculum and a capstone graduate join. Each one of them answered so many questions and made me feel like launch school is possible. I also found it nice that we were broken up into smaller groups so that we could meet outside of Smooth Start. I ended up meeting with my group a couple of times and we had a lot of LS related things to talk about.”

“I would like to thank to all our Smooth Start lead and everyone who has worked on the program to make it happen. Smooth Start Program has helped me to find answers on my questions about Core and Capstone. Our group lead and the guest speakers have shared about their experience in Core and Capstone, which was very valuable. The tasks during sessions, optional exercises for our group, and discussions in a private Slack channel have helped me to discover that I am not alone, having fears and concerns. Now, I feel more confident in understanding about LS expectations and different experiences of other students.”

“It’s hard to put into words how helpful this was! I learned how to use Gather, was exposed to all kinds of study techniques, strategies, and tools, met other students, and benefitted immensely from the Capstone Q/A — I wasn’t sure if I was going to apply to Capstone upon completing Core, but now I absolutely will be applying!”

“The most helpful part of the smooth start program for me was hearing the experiences of guest speakers, and even our cohort leader’s experiences. They provided a lot of insight about what sort of expectations I should have for myself, and what kinds of expectations Launch School has for its students. Additionally, hearing what things are like in capstone and beyond cleared up a lot of the questions I had.”

“Such a friendly and supportive community! Meeting with fellow learners, knowing we share similar challenges, and the willingness to get help and support each other I think was great. I enjoyed the openness in questions and answers.”

“The most valuable experience to me was meeting other students that are taking the same courses as me. Having smaller shared Slack channels, and then private dms with our sub study groups are also very valuable.
Hearing from students that are further along and even finished Launch School was also very encouraging.”

“Smooth Start showed me what a fine team atmosphere there is at the school . It introduced me thoroughly on how to prep myself. The speakers were phenomenal and eager to share their experiences. I really feel more comfortable and confident about the program.”

“My favorite thing was being able to talk to current LS students and Capstone grads. I thought it was invaluable to hear about their experiences and gain some insight into how they’ve succeeded in LS and in their career. I also enjoyed how Smooth Start encouraged us to talk to our peers and form connections with the rest of the LS community. I felt very welcomed!”

Definitely getting connected with folks at the same level helped orient myself inside of the course. I was having a hard time telling how I was doing on my own and being able to compare with other students has been invaluable.

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Launch School
Launch School

The slow path for studious beginners to a career in software development.