Wondering About Flatiron School

Hi everyone!,
Do any of you have some information on FlatironSchool?
http://flatironschool.com/

I hear many good things about the program. They guarantee molding
students with no to little previous programming experience to become a
competent Web/Ruby Developer in 12 Weeks!

I am considering going there- But four things about the school make me
hesitate to apply.
1.Tuition = $10k
2.It is very new and is untested.
3. Can’t you achieve the same effect alone or studying through
Skillshare/MeetUps?
4.Job Placement

Their syllabus look great and many outsiders in programming communities
praise students’ work. I was just hoping that perhaps some of you have
more information on this school and whether you think it is worth the
investment.
Thanks!

i don’t know Flatiron School.

Learning is one way, job placement is another story.

On Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 11:51:08AM +0900, Kevin Y. wrote:

1.Tuition = $10k
2.It is very new and is untested.
3. Can’t you achieve the same effect alone or studying through
Skillshare/MeetUps?
4.Job Placement

Their syllabus look great and many outsiders in programming communities
praise students’ work. I was just hoping that perhaps some of you have
more information on this school and whether you think it is worth the
investment.

It all comes down to how best you learn, your priorities, and your
resources. $10K is a hell of a lot of money for something that can
conceivably be learned on your own. On the other hand, a structured
class setting offers a form of mentorship and some help with rapid skill
uptake, including the time pressures from externally imposed deadlines.

Ultimately, I do not think that these programs are worth anywhere near
that much money in and of themselves. Two things that might make them
worth more are both tangential to the skill acquisition:

  1. possible job placement help
  2. employers valuing documented instruction over autodidactic learning

The first is mostly valuable only because of the second, which means
that
the biggest benefit from such a program in the general case is bypassing
employment gatekeepers who feel the need to justify hiring
recommendations through key resume bullet points rather than relying
solely on actual suitability to the job.

There are specific cases where the benefits of the hands-on
instructional
model might be more valuable to a given student than the increased
ability to slide into the job market. This relates specifically to
people whose best prospects for learning come from that instructional
model, though – and not to people whose learning is best served by
other
approaches to acquiring skills.

So . . . the upshot is that, unless the Flatiron School is just garbage,
the answer is “It depends.”

Just to put in a spanner in the works here. I’m the guy who decides who
gets employed at the company I work at and any CV that has nothing more
to
show than some paper qualification that was bought would go straight in
the
bin without a second glance.

Just saying

Peter H. wrote in post #1089175:

Just to put in a spanner in the works here. I’m the guy who decides who
gets employed at the company I work at and any CV that has nothing more
to
show than some paper qualification that was bought would go straight in
the
bin without a second glance.

Just saying

HI Peter, thanks for you input.
Just wondering, at the risk of looking naive (and I am at this point),
what are the most important elements of a candidate you look for? Yeah,
I did not expect the ‘degree’ from the school would help at all. It was
more of the connections the school may provide.

Thanks!

Chad P. wrote in post #1089161:

On Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 11:51:08AM +0900, Kevin Y. wrote:

1.Tuition = $10k
2.It is very new and is untested.
3. Can’t you achieve the same effect alone or studying through
Skillshare/MeetUps?
4.Job Placement

Their syllabus look great and many outsiders in programming communities
praise students’ work. I was just hoping that perhaps some of you have
more information on this school and whether you think it is worth the
investment.

It all comes down to how best you learn, your priorities, and your
resources. $10K is a hell of a lot of money for something that can
conceivably be learned on your own. On the other hand, a structured
class setting offers a form of mentorship and some help with rapid skill
uptake, including the time pressures from externally imposed deadlines.

Ultimately, I do not think that these programs are worth anywhere near
that much money in and of themselves. Two things that might make them
worth more are both tangential to the skill acquisition:

  1. possible job placement help
  2. employers valuing documented instruction over autodidactic learning

The first is mostly valuable only because of the second, which means
that
the biggest benefit from such a program in the general case is bypassing
employment gatekeepers who feel the need to justify hiring
recommendations through key resume bullet points rather than relying
solely on actual suitability to the job.

There are specific cases where the benefits of the hands-on
instructional
model might be more valuable to a given student than the increased
ability to slide into the job market. This relates specifically to
people whose best prospects for learning come from that instructional
model, though – and not to people whose learning is best served by
other
approaches to acquiring skills.

So . . . the upshot is that, unless the Flatiron School is just garbage,
the answer is “It depends.”

Hi Chad, Thanks for your generous respond.
The case study you provide is something that has been replaying over my
mind for the last couple days. At this point, I decided on the following
things.

1.Flatiron School is legit in that the program will greatly help you
getting vast knowledge and experience in very little time.

  1. Still, I can’t count on being placed or finding a job right after
    graduation. Rather, it is more likely that I will have to spend
    1-2months finishing up portfolio and applying for jobs. (which cannot
    happen with out #1)

3.10K is a rip off. However, the benefits outweigh. Colleges are bigger
rip offs.

  1. Two alternatives: quit my job, spend 6 months preparing with the 10K
    I won’t spend on the school instead of 3months. Attend many Skillshare
    classes and use CodeSchool and such.

or
attend Other programs.
Hunter College Front End Development Certificate Program: $3400.00
http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/ce/certificates/computer/web-programming

NYU Wed Develpment Intensive course:$4000.00
http://www.scps.nyu.edu/content/scps/academics/course_detail.html?id=INFO1-CE9742

Hi,

promising to “turn you into a web developer” in 12 weeks (even if
you have no previous experience) is just laughable and stinks of snake
oil.

Learning to program takes years of practicing. Just ask the guys in
this forum. In Germany, for example, becoming a “programmer” takes 3
years. And that’s some pretty intense training, which consists of both
working at a company and going to school. Many companies even require
you to have solid programming skills beforehand.

So after those 12 weeks you will not be a web developer who’s actually
fit for the job. If they’re good, they’ll give you a basic overview of
different techniques. If they are bad, they’ll teach you nothing but a
bunch of buzzwords and tell you that you’re a “Ruby rockstar” now.

So I’d be very sceptical about this. Personally, all that hipster-talk
alone makes we wanna close the page immediately.

On 15 December 2012 23:20, Kevin Y. [email protected] wrote:

HI Peter, thanks for you input.
Just wondering, at the risk of looking naive (and I am at this point),
what are the most important elements of a candidate you look for? Yeah,
I did not expect the ‘degree’ from the school would help at all. It was
more of the connections the school may provide.

Well we are a RoR shop and so an ideal candidate would be someone with a
few years RoR experience. Having said that none have come forward over
the
past two years when we were recruiting (maybe London is too much of a
backwater, but I suspect it is that our industry sector - sports data -
is
not interesting / sexy enough).

What we ended up with were CS or hard science graduates (maths, physics)
with little or no Ruby experience who showed an interest in computing
beyond what was needed for their degree. It was this interest beyond the
needs of their degree that swayed us. One had written some Facebook apps
just for the hell of it. Another had taught themselves Android
development
and created a scientific app that probably only twelve people in the
world
will use.

An interest in computing without immediate commercial gain. The ability
to
teach yourself new skills. A desire to learn. These things made us want
to
interview them, the degree (while I would like to say having a degree is
not important it does show an ability to study and think analytically)
subject area is of less importance. I’m not sure how we would view a
degree
in Medieval Literature but one guy in another department has a degree in
Theology so I suspect that it wouldn’t be a problem.

So what we are looking for is:

  1. The ability to study and think analytically - a degree is a good
    proxy
    for this
  2. The ability to teach oneself new skills
  3. The creation of applications with those skills that have made it into
    the wild - application of those skills
  4. An interest in computing beyond marketable skills
  5. Experience in a commercial computing environment (around 1 year is
    good)

But thats what it takes to be interviewed by us, other people will have
other criteria. We are a small shop so making a bad hire would be a real
pain but with the criteria I have given here we have not made a hire
that
we regret in the slightest.

Ask yourself what adding Flatiron would add to your CV in light of this.
I
suspect that by itself it would add nothing.

So the real question is “I have $10k, how can I make myself employable
as a
RoR developer?”

Sorry, I have no answer for that.

On Dec 16, 2012, at 1:41 AM, Jan E. [email protected] wrote:

Hi,

promising to “turn you into a web developer” in 12 weeks (even if
you have no previous experience) is just laughable and stinks of snake
oil.

That might be a bit of an upsell, but 12 weeks of intensive training can
get you very far.

Learning to program takes years of practicing. Just ask the guys in
this forum. In Germany, for example, becoming a “programmer” takes 3
years. And that’s some pretty intense training, which consists of both
working at a company and going to school. Many companies even require
you to have solid programming skills beforehand.

Just because the formal apprenticeship takes 3 years to complete doesn’t
mean that you need 3 years to learn “programming”. Quite frankly, most
of
the curriculum in Germany for programming apprenticeships is pretty
laughable.
For universities, there is a common joke: “Students know Java very well,
all
you have to do is teach them programming.”

I know more than one apprentice that were perfectly good and productive
team-mates in bigger projects after the first 2 month if you knew about
what
they were good at and what they lacked and allowed for some time for
self-training
on each tasks.

Also, the number of non-“certified” programmers in good positions in
Germany
shows that programming itself is nothing that you have to be tought to
work in
that field. Formal education certainly helps, but for many tasks, you
don’t need it.

So after those 12 weeks you will not be a web developer who’s actually
fit for the job. If they’re good, they’ll give you a basic overview of
different techniques. If they are bad, they’ll teach you nothing but a
bunch of buzzwords and tell you that you’re a “Ruby rockstar” now.

Someone that can do many basic tasks is already a valuable asset if you
know
how to treat that relationship right. It will certainly not make you a
“i am a ninja
and get a lot of cash”-Programmer, but getting to a decent productivity
level
for basic tasks in 12 weeks is certainly possible. Have him do landing
page
for 3 weeks, you can never have enough of them :).

Also, the concept of having such intensive courses is pretty usual:
pretty much
every database vendor sells you DB knowledge in 4 days or less (and
you’d be
surprised how good some of these are) and most european universities
have
courses on top of their studies that teach skills at a decent level in 3
months.

So I’d be very sceptical about this. Personally, all this hipster-talk
alone makes we wanna close the page immediately.

Thats true, trust is another thing. I wouldn’t accept an applicant just
by merit of
having finished such a school alone, but thats a question of how the
applicant
sells himself. Being upfront about “I am switching professions and took
a course”
goes a long way.

Subject: Re: Wondering About Flatiron School
Date: Sun 16 Dec 12 08:38:31PM +0900

Quoting Peter H. ([email protected]):

So what we are looking for is:

  1. The ability to study and think analytically - a degree is a good proxy
    for this
  2. The ability to teach oneself new skills
  3. The creation of applications with those skills that have made it into
    the wild - application of those skills
  4. An interest in computing beyond marketable skills
  5. Experience in a commercial computing environment (around 1 year is good)

I wonder how you deal with people who offer lots of experience (say,
around a quarter of a century). I mean: what could a person learn in a
year? If I compare myself now and after one year being employed, I
certainly wouldn’t want to go back… And I had already done one
year’s Fortran77 at the university plus an unforgettable year writing
administrative code in GWbasic (compulsory military service).

Carlo

On 16 December 2012 12:38, Carlo E. Prelz removed_email_address[email protected] wrote:

I wonder how you deal with people who offer lots of experience (say,
around a quarter of a century). I mean: what could a person learn in a
year? If I compare myself now and after one year being employed, I
certainly wouldn’t want to go back… And I had already done one
year’s Fortran77 at the university plus an unforgettable year writing
administrative code in GWbasic (compulsory military service).

Carlo

We have come to the conclusion that experience is experience regardless
of
the languages or technologies (personally I have been programming since
the
late 70s and was originally a mainframe COBOL programmer, spent a few
years
writing financial software in Basic). You can learn a lot in a year, but
it
does depend on the year. As someone said “They know Java, now they need
to
learn how to program”, well that one year counts for a lot. Given the
choice between two candidates one who has left university with 3 years
of
Java but no real world experience and one who has completed one years
employment as a PHP programmer the candidate with real world experience
actually has the upper hand.

But then again as I have said we are a small shop and need people who
can
take on a problem and handle it by themselves. A large bank that is
hiring
a dozen programmers probably has completely different criteria.

It is my experience that much of the technology that I have learnt over
the
years is, of itself, completely useless (and as a consequence does not
appear on my CV). I have used languages and operating systems that are
almost extinct so they are not marketable skills. The real skills (the
ones
that are not tied to a language or platform) accumulate very slowly. So
the
difference between no real world experience and one years experience is
significant, but the difference between 1 year and 3 is less marked. 25
years experience is not 25 times greater than 1 year - I would only
consider the last 5 to 7 years of your CV to be of interest.

If however your CV showed that you had been doing the same thing for the
last 15 years then it might start to count against you - I like to see
someone learning new things (or at least new to them).

@ Florian:

It seems we have a very different understanding of being a programmer.
Somebody who can do basic tasks within a team that looks after him is a
code monkey to me, not a programmer. Yeah, you can probably become a
decent code monkey in a few months. Many school kids today don’t even
have to be taught the basics, because they’ve already published projects
on GitHub, maybe done some small jobs etc.

But that doesn’t make them programmers! There’s a big difference
between, say, writing an SQL query that kind of works – and being able
to understand an execution plan and write a query that won’t break down
even if thousands of customers visit the page simulatenously. A
programmer to me is somebody who actually knows what he’s doing and can
come up with workable solutions in a short amount of time. And that’s
something you won’t learn in a few weeks.

Of course you don’t necessarily need formal education. But it does help
to come down to earth and get real knowledge and experience as opposed
to “Hey, I’ve read some PHP tutorials, I’m a web developer now!”.

It’s like with any other serious job: I’m sure there are many great
self-taught architects out there. But when you hire one, you probably
want him to have an actual diploma and not just a certificate from
“Learn statics in only 1 week!”.

I’m not saying that those Flatiron courses are useless. I don’t know
them. But I think they give a a very wrong impression of what you can do
with your knowledge. What kind of jobs will that be when all you need is
a few weeks of training?

Chad P. wrote in post #1089291:

On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 08:40:19AM +0900, Kevin Y. wrote:

3.10K is a rip off. However, the benefits outweigh. Colleges are bigger
rip offs.

For purposes of pure learning . . . yes, they are. Keep in mind,
though,
that many employers simply will not hire anyone without a college
degree.
A lot of those say they’ll hire without a degree if you have
“equivalent”
experience, but mostly (even if they believe it) they don’t really mean
it deep down inside. Exceptions tend to be made for people who are
“rock
stars” (e.g. someone hiring for Ruby on Rails might not turn down DHH
even if he didn’t have a degree), but most of us aren’t famous that way.

Is that really true that employers will not hire a candidate without
programming related degree? I know at least two people who went to fine
art programs and one is doing very well as an iOS app developer and the
other something else I do not know at this moment. Also I attended few
SkillShare courses that are taught by professional programmers who were
self-taught and they definitely did not think that college degrees are
necessary as long as your work reflects certain level of skill. There
wasn’t any conflict of interests as those classes were free.

Subject: Re: Wondering About Flatiron School
Date: Sun 16 Dec 12 11:47:23PM +0900

Quoting Peter H. ([email protected]):

It is my experience that much of the technology that I have learnt
over the years is, of itself, completely useless (and as a
consequence does not appear on my CV). I have used languages and
operating systems that are almost extinct so they are not marketable
skills. The real skills (the ones that are not tied to a language or
platform) accumulate very slowly.

You are very right. Nevertheless, you seldom find those slowly
accumulating skills mentioned in job requirements. I see a clear
tendency at giving a predominant rank to the current buzzword in
whatever IT faculties have recently established as “best practice.”

It boils down to the wisdom of the person who is called to
evaluate candidates. Difficult job…

Carlo

On Dec 16, 2012, at 3:28 PM, Jan E. [email protected] wrote:

@ Florian:

It seems we have a very different understanding of being a programmer.
Somebody who can do basic tasks within a team that looks after him is a
code monkey to me, not a programmer. Yeah, you can probably become a
decent code monkey in a few months. Many school kids today don’t even
have to be taught the basics, because they’ve already published projects
on GitHub, maybe done some small jobs etc.

I never wrote that it makes you a fully-fledged programmer - but it can
make
you fit for working in a company. Many companies pass by perfectly good
talent because of exactly that mindset.

Also, the differentiation between “code monkey” and “programmer” on
skill
is maybe the most snobbish thing I heard in a while, if not actively
harmful.

Granted: there is a difference between someone that just copy and pastes
code and someone that applies skills. But if you apply programming
skills
in a creative way - how meager they may be, you are nevertheless a
programmer - just not a good one (yet).

But that doesn’t make them programmers! There’s a big difference
between, say, writing an SQL query that kind of works – and being able
to understand an execution plan and write a query that won’t break down
even if thousands of customers visit the page simulatenously. A
programmer to me is somebody who actually knows what he’s doing and can
come up with workable solutions in a short amount of time. And that’s
something you won’t learn in a few weeks.

I’ve seen people with zero knowledge in either algebra and SQL doing
query
optimization perfectly well because they saw the need and learned what
they
had to learn
. It took them long, but hey! Taking the right actions and
learning
what you need for it is what makes a programmer, not your skill level.

And yes: I would never let such a person work alone, but with more
experienced
supervision, you can see a lot of awesome things happening.

Of course you don’t necessarily need formal education. But it does help
to come down to earth and get real knowledge and experience as opposed
to “Hey, I’ve read some PHP tutorials, I’m a web developer now!”.

We’re not talking about “some guy who read some tutorials after
midnight”,
but taking a course for a quarter of a year. (assuming that the course
is good)

It’s like with any other serious job: I’m sure there are many great
self-taught architects out there. But when you hire one, you probably
want him to have an actual diploma and not just a certificate from
“Learn statics in only 1 week!”.

Now you are mingeling topics: I agree with you that a course certificate
does not give you any more credibility in the hiring process. I just
don’t
agree with the premise that such a course can only yield unusable
personnel. Even self-teching yields perfectly good people from time to
time,
so how can a good

I’m not saying that those Flatiron courses are useless. I don’t know
them. But I think they give a a very wrong impression of what you can do
with your knowledge. What kind of jobs will that be when all you need is
a few weeks of training?

As I said: basic jobs with an opportunity to improve. Lets face it: Many
companies
are searching for people to make even the most miniscule tasks. At
worst, they
allow very basic tasks to be done by expensive

On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 08:40:19AM +0900, Kevin Y. wrote:

3.10K is a rip off. However, the benefits outweigh. Colleges are bigger
rip offs.

For purposes of pure learning . . . yes, they are. Keep in mind,
though,
that many employers simply will not hire anyone without a college
degree.
A lot of those say they’ll hire without a degree if you have
“equivalent”
experience, but mostly (even if they believe it) they don’t really mean
it deep down inside. Exceptions tend to be made for people who are
“rock
stars” (e.g. someone hiring for Ruby on Rails might not turn down DHH
even if he didn’t have a degree), but most of us aren’t famous that way.

On Dec 17, 2012 2:44 AM, “Florian G.” [email protected] wrote:

have to be taught the basics, because they’ve already published projects
on GitHub, maybe done some small jobs etc.

I’m going to agree with Jan on this, and it doesn’t have to do with just
programming. My first job in IT, we had a guy that convinced his way in
by
pretending he knew things. I was his “go to” for things he couldn’t
handle.
Needless to say, he’s now a very unqualified system manager. It’s
unfortunate for them, but it happens. I have a handful of similar
stories
dealing with this or that person’s clout, meaning, he’s not the only one
that slipped invasively through the cracks.

In interviews, I take the middle ground with prospective help, all the
while keeping in mind that even though young blood is good, somebody
that
has already walked through fire to get here is much, much better than a
signed piece of paper, and, in this case, one that carries little
weight.

Hi Everyone,

So I’m Avi, the founder and main instructor at the Flatiron School. I
guess I just want to address why I started the school and give you a
sense of what our program is about.

Our program is geared to people with no technical experience and our
goal is first and foremost to help them fall madly in love with code.
Once someone loves this, I know they’ll never give up on learning it and
will value being great at their craft. Being a programmer, we take so
much for granted when we think of beginners. One of the first
assumptions we make is that a layman will connect in the same deep way
we have to code. It’s important to show them what we take for granted.
That programmers change the world more on a daily basis then any other
profession. That technology now influences every aspect of our lives,
culture, economics, and politics. Just look at the US elections and how
better software helped Obama rally a vote where Romney’s platform is
largely cited as having failed. That as a programmer we have the wealth
of human wisdom at our finger tips, able to bend it to our whim like
branches in the wind. That code presents a larger design pattern behind
all systems of massive complexity, of composition of synthesis, of
building up a system from smaller units of itself, like notes in a song
and atoms in a compound. So ya, that’s Flatiron’s first job, to help
people connect to the wonder of code.

Second, the mechanics and syntax of code are the easy parts. In fact, we
don’t even teach that stuff, we expect you to learn it on your own
through our prework curriculum (which is open sourced
http://prework.flatironschool.com ). What we focus on isn’t the science
of programming but the art of expression. Knowing how to define a method
isn’t as important as understanding when methods are needed, what they
really mean, how they represent behavior. Programming is about
articulating an idea clearly, not to a machine, but to ourselves. I try
to show them how to break problems down, how to use the vocabulary they
have learnt to solve a problem, how to work in teams, how to come up
with effective plans, how to actually build. There is just so much more
to programming then the gestures of a particular language. We try to
teach all those other things.

Third, it’s about seeing this as a career. We do our best to provide you
with the best leg up on a fruitful and long career as a developer. This
is not a program for people with great ideas that would make a billion
dollars if they could just learn to code. This is a program for people
wanting to spend the rest of their lives writing. We help find you jobs
that will continue to mentor you, teach you how to promote yourself by
writing blogs on technology and code, by presenting at meetups and
conferences, by contributing to open source, and by actually shipping
software.

Okay, this rant has gotten super long. But anyway, I hope that answers
some questions about our program and what we value. If it isn’t for you,
that’s fine. If you would never hire one of our students, that’s fine
too. We aren’t doing this for you. We are doing it because it makes us
happy.

Avi Flombaum

It isn’t marketing lingo. Don’t you feel pleasure and wonder coding?
Seeing what you can create and how you can express it? I mean connect to
that - this isn’t just a job, we’re not code monkeys or pixel pushers,
we’re artists. It’s wondeful. Connect to that. I know the job can get
stale but let’s not forget what we’re doing here.

Things Flatiron Students built this semester:

http://openissu.es - open issues aggregator off github with bounties,
difficulty rating, owner endorsements, and upvotes.

http://flatiron.teamline.io - timelines for teams based on activity like
tweets, commits, and blog posts.

http://openexam.org - collaborative quiz generator

and more.

plus I think we’ve had like 8 open source commits, have open sourced all
the student projects, written like 60 blog posts on topics, and built
http://xta.github.com/HalloweenBash/

Happy to provide more pudding for proof.

I know my language can get lavish when talking about code, it isn’t a
gimmick, it’s how I feel.

Avi

On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 4:33 PM, Avi F. [email protected] wrote:

So ya, that’s Flatiron’s first job, to help
people connect to the wonder of code.

“Wonder of code” - that’s too much for me. Maybe it’s necessary
marketing lingo - or I am too long in the field.

with effective plans, how to actually build. There is just so much more
to programming then the gestures of a particular language. We try to
teach all those other things.

Absolutely agree. If you regularly succeed at teaching that to people
who have no previous exposure to software development in 12 weeks then
hats off to you!

Kind regards

robert

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