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Nearing the End – A Review of Flatiron School

This is a “no bullshit” review of the program so far, meant to highlight the my top pros and cons of the program. I am currently at the end of Section 4 (JavaScript with Rails) and only have one section left before my program is complete. I will post a final review once I complete work with career services and do a few interviews.

Pros

  • Most of the curriculum flows really well and builds upon previous lessons. You don’t have to try to map out what to learn and when to learn it. This is an amazing thing. You can certainly learn on Udemy and other sites, but there is no curriculum to take you from beginner to junior developer that covers everything Flatiron does.
  • Flatiron has an ‘Ask a Question’ feature on their platform. When you are stuck, you can immediately get help and screen share with someone. This feature is really helpful in the beginning when everything is basic, but as things become more complex it is a bit less useful. Every time I used it I immediately asked for a screen share. Typing paragraphs of information is no fun for anyone and it was far faster to just talk to someone.
  • You are in charge of your learning. You either grow or stagnate based on the time that you put in.
  • Cohort leads and educational coaches are motivated, punctual and very helpful.
  • I learned to program and can build and deploy full-stack applications. I feel confident that I can continue to learn on my own and create things that excite me.

Recommended Improvements

  • My current cohort has 3 people left in it. There isn’t any communication in the Slack channel. I haven’t experienced a “Close-Knit Cohort & Group Learning” as promoted on the Flatiron website. However, to be fair, I have heard other cohorts are different and more engaging.
  • I switched from a part-time to a full-time cohort and in each cohort there were people weeks behind. The students had not kept pace with the weekly assignments. Flatiron needs to hold students accountable and move them to self-pace. You cannot do weekly pair-programming when you are on your CLI project and your partner is learning about loops. Well, I guess you could, but would you want to? Perhaps more importantly, should you be expected to? I wanted to see what other people were doing and what they had learned during the week while the content was still fresh in my head. What did they catch that I missed?
  • This isn’t meant to be a slight against those people because everyone absorbs information differently and learns at their own pace. It is about maintaining high standards and expectations in the cohort and for the program as a whole. Do you want to be on a team of motivated people who are working their butt off to learn and improve, or on a team that has an atmosphere like a high school wood shop class?
  • Cohort leads, who are basically your mentors are advisors through the program, have not worked in the industry and are past students who now work for Flatiron. They are motivated, very helpful, and overworked (managing 3 cohorts at the same time).
  • Coming into the program as a student, I thought we would be able to have discussions with professionals who had experience working in the industry and are giving back as teachers. This is not the case.
  • Outside of the one hour meeting every week, it is hard to get answers to questions from the person who has been with you through the journey. It isn’t because they don’t care. They don’t have time.
  • Section 4 (JS/Rails) is a complete mess. All other sections so far have been outstanding. I am told an entire overhaul is coming for this section, but that really doesn’t help those of us that are finishing it up (not to mention paid to learn it). It looks like learning the native JS API will be up to me. Hopefully this will not be an issue for anyone attending in the future.

If I was to do it over again…

I would choose the self-pace option from the beginning. Part-time and full-time options do not have the benefits to justify the extra cost in my opinion. You can complete the program much faster if you are willing to put in the effort.

If you are motivated, willing to put in the time and decide you want a structured program, choose full-time from the start. You can always move to part-time or self-pace. Part-time does not require 45-50 hrs a week and feels very slow moving. I would recommend this for people who have very demanding jobs right now and want to do it on the side and still keep up. I put in probably around 40-50 hrs a week in the full-time program and have kept pace just fine.

Overall, right now, I am glad that I chose to attend Flatiron and would recommend it to others.

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