Very interesting read. Thank you!

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Two things I think boot camps should try that they haven't yet (or at least I don't think they have).

1. Why not poach from high school graduates who would likely go to college? Except instead of college, you advertise to them a Bootcamp. Screen them via SAT or ACT if need be. A small market since you'd need parents that can co-sign or pay, but certainly large enough to make some money off of.

2. 6-month boot camps that teach twice as much and make people more likely to get a FANNG job or something.

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I looked into both of these.

The issue with #1 is that signaling still matters. GA's genius was that we would have students who had the traditional signal of graduating from a traditional school - they were just missing the skills. We gave them the skills. Skills alone are still a tough sell.

On #2, there were students that took multiple courses, but the ROI decreased. The cost for a second 3-months would be the same as the first, but unclear that it would get you a job 2x as good. We also thought about "level 2" courses, but there was not enough demand. One thing I thought would work, but we never prioritized high enough was the "triple threat" or something along those lines - basically someone who has taken web development, UX design AND Data Science with us. You could do all three within 9 months, and you would have a really powerful and versatile skill set. Add in part time product management and digital marketing for an "easy" fourth semester and you have a really powerful full year program.

(I only know 2 people in my life that are skilled across all five subjects and both are very senior in very large organizations)

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Very nicely done. Question: I would have thought that ISAs would be hard to enforce, but you didn't mention that. Are they?

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I had left before we got ISAs really going, but two things on this:

1- There is a social pressure to pay off these debts. It is only significant if you are doing well, and being part of the "alumni in good standing" is important to most people. And the lenders can still go after you. Where it trickier is if you work building your own company and claim not to have any income.

2- GA did not take any risk on the ISAs. We took a smaller upfront payment that worked out because ISAs drove conversion rate so much higher. So while long term it was important that the students paid back (or we would lose our lenders), we were not directly on the hook

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Graduated from GA web dev in 2017. Have worked at 2 start ups since. I concur with your comments about graduates being more or less lazy. I was shocked that only ~8 of 30 students in my course completed the final assignment, attended the job fair, and took advantage of the job placement resources. I got my first job from the job fair that GA put on.

In my experience the people that were most successful with the program we already employable in similar jobs before the GA program. Many were working as consultants or for large corporations and probably could have continued in those careers but wanted something different.

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I don't think I agree with "lazy". I do think many students entering the program were missing core "career skills", which was what the "career councilors" were focused on providing. In some ways the GA program was a bundle of:

1- Curation of the skills you need to learn

2- Teaching of those skills

3- Forcing function to learn those skills (easier to tell your spouse I have to go to school, then "I am going to go and self learn some stuff this morning...)

4- Career councilor to help you get a job

We say we are charging for #1 and #2, but you can get both of those for free with a little effort. The real value is in #3 and #4, but no one will actually pay for those on their own.

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so there were people paying $15k for a course but then not willing to attend a job fair? That part of the story was very surprising to me

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Yes if I remember correctly, we had daily (virtual) meetings as part of the career support services and we had to apply to some quota of jobs a day or week. I can't remember the exact numbers. It was a lot of jobs but not a fantastical number (it might have been three per day or 10 per week). What I took away from the career services was that they wanted us to take it seriously and not just hope a job will pop up.

I'll note that the standards I experienced at GA were much more strict than anything I experienced in college. We had to "check-in" to class every morning and if you were late (even by 5 minutes) or missed class three times you were booted from the course (I think you could retake?). Then to participate in the job fair and career services you had to have passed the class, completed all the projects, and finished your portfolio. All of these things were definitely doable with a reasonable amount of hard work, but it may have been a shock to some people who weren't used to having that discipline.

I don't offer that as a criticism of GA. I think it makes total sense. Some people may then say that their job placement numbers or graduation stats are juiced because they kick out the non-performers. I viewed the standards as reasonable and easy to achieve with work. There is definitely some self-preservation in them. GA doesn't want just anyone to complete the course and then give them a bad name. But for me, that means companies will actually take a GA course seriously and not view it as a worthless certificate. So the standards benefit people who are willing to work hard and conform to the standard.

There were some people from my class that had job offers through friends or past coworkers before graduation so there was no need for them to continue with the career services. However there were many who were at the bottom of the class that just didn't take advantage. A few people had the staff work with them on extra work to get them up to standards or have them retake the course (for free I think) to make sure they learned the material. My general feeling was that the staff genuinely wanted people to learn the material and be successful and they would go out of their way to help out.

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It wasn't so much the job fair, as it was the effort that goes into a job search. It often took 3 months for someone to find a job - and doing it right was close to a full time job. The career councilors try to push the students to do the work, but many of the students will just ghost them.

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I should not that the staff at GA were not to blame for people not taking advantage of the resources. The staff were very persistent and helpful and seemed to really want to find jobs for people.

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