The most recent Make School class

Ramp: A Free Introductory Course for Prospective Make School Students

Preparing prospective students for a Make School education

Jordan Arnesen
Oct 29, 2018 · 5 min read

What is Ramp?

Make School has always had applicants with a wide range of programming experience. Some applicants already have degrees in computer science, others have never coded before in their life.

For more experienced applicants we ask for links to previous projects or code they’ve worked on. We’re not looking for perfect code, but we are trying to confirm that the applicant is passionate about programming, as evidenced by the hours they’ve already devoted to it.

But when it comes to applicants with little or no coding experience, it’s harder to know if someone will be a good fit and enjoy dedicating themselves to programming. Worse still, we worry that a lot of people without an already strong programming background often don’t apply at all, thinking that they won’t be ready to succeed at Make School.

Over the past year, to help make the application process more consistent and useful, we created and piloted Ramp — a free online self-paced introductory course for potential students.

The goal of Ramp is to:

  1. Help potential students decide whether programming is something they really want to do professionally.
  2. Get potential students up to speed so they can make the most of their Make School experience.

Can Ramp Really Prepare Me for Make School?

When this year’s Ramp students arrived at Make School, they may not have felt ready to excel at Make School. New students of all experience levels tend to feel a bit of imposter syndrome when they first start, but that’s natural in any new learning environment. Their problem-solving skills, their determination to learn, and their willingness to push themselves got them into Make School, and those same factors will lead them to success.

If a student completes Ramp and they want more of that kind of challenging learning experience, then I’m confident they’ll be ready to make the most of Make School.

Ramp lesson on functions

How Ramp Works

The overall focus of Ramp is computational thinking, problem solving, and developing a programmer mindset. These are all core skills that empower students regardless of the coding languages or projects that they choose to pursue during their time at Make School and beyond.

Ramp was so successful this year at helping our less-experienced students with both of the goals above that we are very excited to expand the Ramp experience to include even more content and support to potential Make School students of all experience levels.

Starting this year, all new Make School students will participate in Ramp. Depending on a potential student’s existing level of experience, they will be able to jump into the content at the starting point that is right for them:

Level 0 — Introduction to Programming

Practice the fundamentals — variables and objects, arrays, loops, conditionals, functions, and classes — by completing programming challenges that increase in complexity as you build up your coding skills.

Level 1 — Object-Oriented Programming Project

Once you are comfortable with the basics, you’ll take on a larger project — building a portfolio-worthy project from scratch using object-oriented programming.

Level 2 — Technical and Professional Development

Prepare for success at Make School by further leveling up both your technical and professional skills before you arrive.

Along the way, Ramp students will be supported in their learning with:

  • Personalized feedback on their code
  • Weekly online office hours with video chat and screen-sharing
  • Peer and instructor help in chat

We know that some people will take more or less time in different sections depending upon their pre-existing experience and their affinity for coding. The hours each person spends on an assignment may vary widely, and that’s okay. As we tell the students,

“Programming is challenging, and it’s very common for even experienced programmers to get stuck at times.

WE WANT YOU TO GET STUCK. It may sound harsh, but this is truly the real world experience of being a programmer, and we want you to have that experience early on so that you can practice overcoming the challenge.

The most important thing is to keep a positive attitude, utilize your resources, take a break when you need it to help manage your emotions, and reach out for help when you need it. WE ALSO WANT YOU TO GET UN-STUCK! :)”

It’s not about where you start, it’s about where you finish. While everyone will begin their Ramp experience at different times and different starting points, the goal is that everyone is able to complete the program and feel confident about their ability to thrive at Make School.

Ramp lesson on shapes and colors

The Door to a Career in Coding is Open to You

Whether you just discovered coding recently or are simply excited about the possibilities of working in tech, we want you to feel empowered to take your career into your own hands. At the same time, you shouldn’t have to commit thousands of dollars or years of your life to programming before you know if it’s the right fit.

That’s why I’m so proud of the Ramp program. It lets potential students test the waters and see what they are capable of before arriving at Make School. It’s the perfect way to build your knowledge and skills while also building your confidence that programming just might be the perfect path for you.

To learn more about how to access Ramp and the Make School admissions process as a whole, feel free to send an email to

Make School

A collection on technology, startups, and the future of education.

Jordan Arnesen

Written by

Educator, Software Engineer

Make School

A collection on technology, startups, and the future of education.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade