Launch School
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Launch School

Why Don’t We Get Negative Reviews?

Businesses generally live in fear of a bad review. Getting a lot of bad reviews can seriously undermine the business. The flip-side is that not getting any bad reviews can also be bad for your business. That might sound strange, but research has shown that uniformly good reviews with no bad reviews causes consumers to be suspicious.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Launch School rarely gets bad reviews. Combined with the 100% job placement rate for our Capstone Program, this has led to some skepticism from people who aren’t familiar with what we do, and comments such as ‘too good to be true’, ‘must be fake’, ‘what are they hiding?’, and so on.

A rewarding and successful educational experience is all about school-student fit.

I wanted to try and counteract those kinds of comments, and that led me to think about why we don’t get many bad reviews. Launch School isn’t perfect for everyone. We have a particular approach and way of doing things, and that isn’t going to work for every potential student. A rewarding and successful educational experience is all about school-student fit. When that exists, magic happens. But just because a particular school isn’t the right fit for a certain student, and vice versa, doesn’t mean that the student can’t be successful elsewhere, or that the school is necessarily bad.

However, given that every school will enroll a certain proportion of students where the fit isn’t right and things don’t work out, you’d naturally expect that certain proportion to directly translate to an equivalent proportion of negative reviews. Launch School hardly gets any. Why is that?

I’ll take a shot at an answer:

  • First of all, we don’t focus on chasing and converting leads, aggressive marketing, or hyping ourselves up. In fact, we tend to fly somewhat under-the-radar. The kinds of students who are attracted to Launch School tend to spend a lot of time and effort to learn about and really understand us. Added to that, we’re upfront about who we are and what we offer. We’re not trying to trick people into enrolling in our program, just the opposite in fact.
  • This leads to my second point — you can’t just start paying us. Before you enroll in the actual paid program, you have to first complete our free prep courses, read a number of our books, then write an application essay. By this point, a student should already have a good idea of whether Launch School is a good fit for them, and they won’t have paid us a dime.
  • Finally, once you do start the paid program, you can leave at any time without financial penalty. Since the standard payment structure for Launch School is a monthly subscription, there’s no up-front fee or long-term financial commitment. In fact, we do the opposite of most companies — at Launch School signing up takes a lot of work, but it’s really easy to leave.

To summarize all of that a little more succinctly:

  • We go to great lengths to try and make sure that there’s a good school-student fit before we charge anything.
  • We designed our program so that students can leave at any time. In other words, Launch School is structured to prevent Educational Entrapment.
Photo by Rayson Tan on Unsplash

In a roundabout way, I think this explains why we don’t get many negative reviews. Most of the negative reviews I read about schools in the Tech Education sector express a similar sentiment: the students felt trapped. Perhaps there wasn’t a good school-student fit, or they felt there was a bait and switch, or the substance didn’t live up to the marketing hype. Those things on their own aren’t the main problem. Here’s the thing that generated those negative reviews: despite all of those feelings, they can’t leave. This is what those students are complaining about, the part where it’s very difficult or prohibitively expensive to leave — the entrapment.

We want to empower our students, not trap them.

At Launch School, we designed our program in the opposite way. For our Core Curriculum, the subscription model means there’s no up-front financial commitment and you can leave any time. For our Capstone, we only accept students into the program after they’ve completed Core. By then, we know them well, and they know us. There’s a mutual trust that’s been built up over years. There’s no hard-sell for Capstone either. We don’t need one. After completing Core, each party more than understands each others’ pros and cons, and is in a position to make a very well-informed decision either way.

Capstone isn’t perfect either. The program is tough and demanding, and a real change of pace from Core. Some students struggle with that, and not everyone who goes through Capstone necessarily ends up having the best experience. So why doesn’t that generate negative reviews? Because the outcome of Capstone, even if students didn’t enjoy the process, is that they end up landing a high-paying job! There’s no entrapment, because even if your experience during the program was somewhat negative, the overall outcome is a net positive. The baseline scenario for Capstone is still really good.

This is what we mean when we say that we’re student-centric. We want to empower our students, not trap them. We are the most student-centric educational institution, and that’s why we don’t have a lot of negative reviews.

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