Building the #1 ranked coding education

Recently, Course Report rated Thinkful best overall coding bootcamp out of over 100 schools:

3,500 alumni rated schools across several categories — curriculum, job placement, instructors, online bootcamp, and overall program — and Thinkful came out #1 across all five. I want to share what we do in each of Course Report’s categories to earn that success.

#1 in Curriculum

We push you to work on larger and more challenging projects than any web development resources on the internet (and we’ve reviewed lots of them), providing the support you need to persist. Our curriculum follows a simple pattern: introduce a concept, illustrate with an example, challenge with a drill, then put it all together with a project. Every concept is actively used so that you retain what you learn, and projects build on each through the course so that you have to re-use concepts from earlier sections as you progress.

What’s next? We continue to look for ways to help you overcome hurdles in the learning process towards becoming a self-sufficient programmer. We’ve begun testing video lessons where visual content has a unique ability to illuminate the process of writing software, showing a beginner not just what their code should look like, but the actual step-by-step of how it gets written by an experienced professional.

# 1 in Job placement

Our Career Prep program is one of the largest reasons people choose Thinkful, and we’re often asked for access to it even by students who attend other bootcamps. Our mentor team conducts 5 mock interviews so that you don’t panic when a stranger asks you to stand at a whiteboard and reverse an array. Our partnerships team makes 3 to 5 introductions to companies that are hiring. And our career coaches hold daily standups to help you make the most of your time in the job search, advising you on how to allocate your time between meeting developers at events, preparing for interviews, and crafting applications.

What’s next? A number of companies from our employer network have hired grads and are now looking to roll out Thinkful in their local communities to invest in training new developers. Thinkful already offers industry-aligned education; now industry is starting to play a role in actually training for the skills they need. Keep an eye out for more announcements in this area soon :)

#1 in Best instructors

When students finish a course with Thinkful, they write a note to their mentor. From just the last 3 days, here are some of those notes:

  • “Chris, your expertise is really second to none.”
  • “Thanks for everything Praveen! I loved working with you!”
  • “Hi Max! I wanted to thank you for all your help and guidance during the course. You were always so willing to answer my many questions and answer them in a way that really helped illustrate to me the why and the how. You made sure I understood before we proceeded to a new lesson, which was invaluable. I cannot thank you enough for everything.”
  • “Thanks for all the help Ernie! I know I went long on some of the lessons, but you were a great help and mentor. I wish everyone taking this course could have you as their mentor.”

Every student thinks their mentor is the best mentor. And they’re right — every mentor has the technical expertise to teach complex materials; crucially, each also has the empathy to relate to beginners’ struggles.

What’s next? We just hired two lead instructors into our Full Time program to continue to drive improvements in how we teach. Tauhida Parveen was most recently chair of the department of software engineering at Keiser University. She also has tech industry experience, having led a team at WikiMedia. Chris Klanac has been an engineer or engineering manager for 20 years at big companies like UBS Bank and Cars.com, and for smaller freelance clients. Chris and Tauhida will be teaching cohorts of the Full Time program, setting standards for every instructor, and spreading best practices across the community.

#1 in Best online program

Online learning has its advantages: Online means no commuting. Online means you learn on your own schedule. What offline schools spend on rent for classrooms we spend on providing exceptional 1-on-1 mentorship to each student.

But we’re honest with ourselves about the challenges of online learning, and we work like hell to overcome them. We’ve built tools to facilitate student-to-instructor communication. We’ve partnered with groups like Lesbians Who Tech and Women Who Code to create an inclusive online community. Effective education requires authentic relationships between you, your instructor, and your peers, and we create a structure and provide the tools for those relationships to develop online.

What’s next? The challenge in online learning is helping students maintain engagement over a long period of time. MOOC’s — and most online learning programs — fail that challenge. We’ve succeeded thanks to the incredible 1-on-1 support we provide, and we continue to work on providing more structure to drive more engagement. Specifically, we’ve seen the success of pair programming as a learning tool in our Full Time program, and have spent months piloting pair programming features in our Flexible program. Soon, every student at Thinkful will consider pair programming core to the experience.

#1 in Best overall experience

What makes the best overall experience is not a single statistic or a single feature that nobody else offers; it’s a feeling that starts with the first student who signs up and gets built with every hire (at this point, we’ve made over 500 hires). As we’ve written before, massive is the opposite of good in education. The best learning experiences feel small, when teacher and student together focus on a stated goal, reflect on the progress, and constantly revise plans to achieve that goal.