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Flatiron School settles for operating without license, employment/salary claims (ny.gov)
317 points by anaxag0ras on Oct 17, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 208 comments

"Between January and June 2017, Flatiron claimed that 98.5% of its students received employment less than 180 days after graduation and that Flatiron graduates had an average salary of $74,447. However, Flatiron did not disclose clearly and conspicuously that the 98.5% employment rate included not only full time salaried employees but also apprentices, contract employees and self-employed freelance workers, some who were employed for less than twelve weeks. Similarly, Flatiron failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose that its $74,447 average salary claim included full time employed graduates only, which represent only 58% of classroom graduates and 39% of online graduates."

Good to crack down on this.

"In order to obtain a SED license, a non-degree granting career school must meet a number of criteria, including using an approved curriculum and employing a licensed director and teachers."

This is worrying. Part of why these bootcamps have been a valuable addition is that they've been able to use their own curricula and train their own teachers.

Having done some work for a school that's jumped through these hoops, I believe that it's a different definition of "approved." It's not "choose one of these curricula we made up and do that," it's "show us your complete curriculum and defend how this makes a complete program."

The response times on approval can be pretty terrible and you get peppered with a lot of dumb requests by reviewers who don't actually understand the material.

(I grew up around my parents' vocational school, board of education interactions looked totally insane)

This. I work at a coding bootcamp and last week we decided to include CSS Grids in the syllabus for the advanced HTML/CSS week and this week we are practicing it. This would never be possible if we needed our syllabus accredited.

> This would never be possible if we needed our syllabus accredited.

Good thing you don't need your syllabus accredited to have an approved curriculum (and in fact not even sure there's such a thing?)

Also, accredited institutions make small changes to syllabi (such as the one you mentioned) all the time.

(e: Just noticed your comment down-thread, and now assume you're not in the USA. So edit, prepend "In the USA" to my comment. Relevant at least to the article I guess.)

I’ve never heard of them stopping you from teaching something extra. Does this mean you dropped something to make room for grids?

In my country you can't function like a normal school if your syllabus needs to be accredited and it's not easy to change it.

We didn't really drop anything, an extra day appeared because they were already better prepared before starting the course with basic materials.

When I went to a university, they got around this by making the syllabi as vague as humanly possible. They even would have a spare course code in each department which was just "whatever the professor feels like teaching, and if it's popular we'll turn it into a real course". Syllabi would avoid specifying the exact languages/frameworks/technologies taught in class.

We had something like that at UToronto Scarborough campus in philosophy. We had independent study course codes which were fourth year course codes where a student or small group of students could work with a prof to develop a custom course. Was amusing in that I think when I started studying there they only had I think four codes, but a friend of mine was there an extra two years and had taken everything upper level basically and they had to make new course codes for him.

My university (in the United States) had a course code like this, except that it was allowed to be repeated so you could take it a number of times under the same course code.

UPenn has that. I took CIS 399 ("Special Topics in Computer Science") once as "Unix/Linux Skills" and once as a Python course. From googling I see that it's also been offered as "The Art of Recursion", "Open Source Software Development", and other titles. It is a half-credit course, i.e. half of a normal course.

I don't see the problem.

A syllabus -- per dictionary.com, "an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum, etc." -- is required by a governing authority that presumably has an interest in what citizen/subject (per your local regime) are being taught. This seems legitimate in the general case.

Your syllabus can be "unit-n: overview of current layout technologies for www browsers". Problem solved, no?

This kind of vaguness must certainly be tolerated for established universities and other parts of the traditional pantheon in any given jurisdiction. But, depending on jurisdiction, new schools and small schools might well be given no such wiggle room.

On timing — absolutely. It puts the old time-estimation adage of "take a developer's estimate and triple it" to shame.

What’s even more worse is people being defrauded of time and money by what amounts to at best an accidental scam. The stakes are high enough that there is arguably an appropriate level of rigor in certification

So what? That's how the world works. You don't get a free pass because you can code.

I've also done work for a for profit school. The issue with approval (as far as I can see) is that it focuses on easily checkable items like "do you have lesson plans" and less on important intangibles like "does your curriculum make any sense."

Still seems like that'd be better than nothing.

58% of classroom graduates making $74,447 average seems better than most universities out there. Too bad they had to lie about it.

A general practice of many coding bootcamps is making admissions selections in part based on the likelihood of career (as opposed to academic) success. There is a degree of "would I like to have a beer with this person" in the application process which is absent from traditional academic institutions like 'Old State U.'

One of the operating models of bootcamps is as a recruiter for tech companies. In addition to tuition from students, the bootcamp receives a fee from employers when graduates are hired. This provides incentives bootcamps to encourage students to take jobs as apprentices. And whether a student has the financial resources to take on an apprentice role can also factor into admission selection.

I have hired or at least interviewed directly from several bootcamps in NYC, including the Flatiron school, and was never asked to pay a referral or acquisition fee.

Fullstack Academy has a fee for hiring grads, but only if the company attended hiring day and the offer was a result of that attendance.

Their acceptance rate is much lower than all but the very top tier schools. Plus the students are a good bit older on average, they have more work experience, and most of them already have degrees.

Most universities teach something besides tech.

I assure you, a bootcamp for European medieval history will not produce average salaries of $73,000.

your logic makes no sense.

That's like saying coding bootcamps don't produce chefs. Different goals for different programs.

> 58% of classroom graduates making $74,447 average seems better than most universities out there.

The parent poster is comparing how successful universities are at getting their graduates well-paying jobs, compared to how successful coding bootcamps are at getting their graduates well-paying jobs.

I point out that this is an unreasonable comparison. University averages are dragged down by low-earning, low-employable majors.

(One may conclude that going to university for the sake of a low-wage, low-employable major is worthless. To which I will have to ask - how well do you think software engineers will be paid, if the 20 million current American college students were to switch their major to comp sci tomorrow?)

Is it better than a university CS degree?

"Better" is tough to say - coding bootcamps are focused on getting a coding job, but university CS degrees are not (CS graduates going into other fields [like finance], research/grad school, etc).

If the goal is to get a high-paying coding job as quickly as possible, bootcamps look good. Would be interesting to look at longer-term trends in a few years - career advancement, job type, management level, industry within tech, etc.

A bit of a rant since I worked in the industry:

> CS graduates going into other fields [like finance]

Finance is just like every other high-professional industry, they train you for what you need to know because they are invested in your success. I worked in that industry for 6 years. Most banks run a 2-3 month internal bootcamp for fresh college hires. I was a math/econ double major and sat next to an english lit major in my class. My brother was a poli-sci major and went straight from college -> bootcamp -> Goldman Sachs as a developer.

I think people greatly overestimate the value of their major (excluding those going into academics). My personal experience in finance and tech is that Finance and CS majors are the absolute worst about overvaluing their education. 2 years of work experience^ erases any "superiority" of an industry-specific major compared to an art history major (all else equal).

^ I've done a fair amount of mid-level hiring. I've told people in the past that mentioning your major in an interview after 2 years of work experience is a strong strike #1 to me. If your major is still relevant to your ability to do a job, I generally assume your recent work experience has been worthless.

Strange. I've found my education has been highly relevant over the last 20 years.

I’m going to mention it if you list it as a requirement and ask me about it.

I would hope you answer if asked about it, but I don't see it as something to bring up unless directly asked about it. Maybe my experience is unique, but on the interviewee side of the table it has only come up once after being in the workforce for 2 years. The only reason was because we went to the same school and were joking about professors.

I can't speak for Finance but if your CS degree isn't equivalent to ~4 years of work experience you went to a bad school.

Some numbers:


    30 weeks
    40 hours per week
    4 years
    = 4800 hours

    49 weeks
    50 hours per week
    2 years
    = 4900 hours
And that's being generous at only a 50 hour work week, as well as being generous in giving a full 40 hours worth of college work. I think your comment perfectly demonstrates my point.

CS majors are also doing 2-4 internships which are by and large more formational experiences than a bootcamp. I don't know where you work that a developer working "only" 50h weeks is "generous" but I hope I never find myself applying there.

> CS majors are also doing 2-4 internships which are by and large more formational experiences than a bootcamp

This seems like a left turn from my comment. Nowhere did I say bootcamps are a replacement for formal education. I was comparing the value of time in the workforce vs. time spent in school. I was discussing finance majors who, shockingly, also do internships. I don't know anyone that took a bootcamp as a replacement to a college education, so I'm not sure where you pulled any of this from.

> I don't know where you work that a developer working "only" 50h weeks is "generous" but I hope I never find myself applying there.

Maybe my part of the world is unique, but I've never worked less than 50 hours per week in my 10 years and I honestly can't say I know anyone that does excluding people with "non-professional" jobs.

I've worked exactly one job that routinely took more than 40 hours/week and I make sure to not fall into that trap again. 50 hours a week standard is the same as a 20% per hour pay cut

Only if you're not paid by the hour.

True, but is that a significant amount of people who would be going to boot camps for engineering? The type of people who have the personality to get and succeed at consulting jobs seem to overlap heavily with the type of people who can learn on their own

You're saying people who actively sought out continuing education and were willing to do a career transition are people who aren't willing to learn on their own? That's just silly.

I think they are saying the opposite.

Some of the stats in the thread seem to indicate that a not insignificant minority do self employ or consult.

I was saying the opposite.

Sorry, I completely misinterpreted that as "taking coursework" is the opposite of "independent learning"

Nah I meant more that bootcamps aren't the "proper path" for lack of a better phrase, that everyone goes to by default. It takes a certain amount of motivation to go out of the norm, or at least a certain amount of comfort with that risk, and that same mindset applies to entreprenership.

I say this as someone who just went to college because that's what you do and only got into software because my degree led to a $10/hr job which could not pay rent and student loans. If I had gotten 25 or 30 an hour there's a good chance I never would have had the impetus to teach myself anything

> I was discussing finance majors

I wasn't, I explicitly said I can't speak for finance majors. My point I would not consider 2 years of work and a 4 year CS degree from a well-regarded school to be equivalent for technical hires.

My internship experience was what made CS click, rather than the curriculum itself. Agree that they're a critical ingredient. :)

Which plays directly into my comment about work vs school.

As a college student, I consistently put in 60-80+ hours a week into my studies. I know this is just one data point, but I think your estimate of what it takes to be a student is way off. However, I do take a lot of classes, and do research, so I may be on the upper end.

(This is at a state school in the US.)

That's absolutely insane. I overloaded half my semesters and had a double major-double minor and didn't work anywhere near those hours. Maybe college has changed in the last 10 years, but I went to a very good school and had a drastically different experience. It's insane to believe you should be working more in college than after, let alone double.

Seriously, that's insane. I've never heard of anything even resembling that.

For a lot of the classes I took, this is what the hours looked like for my classmates as well. I do not think it's that unusual, even.

This could be tricky to quantify. What percentage of these bootcamps jobs are based in the Bay Area? Salaries are obviously "higher" there (quotes because cost of living is as well).

In my experience (having worked with several people from boot camps and obviously several people with CS degrees), boot camps are much better at attracting/selecting people who are interested in programming and the long term learning needed to be a successful programmer. University CS degrees are much better at teaching CS, and even the skills necessary to be a good programmer. If you look at CS degrees with good co-op or intern programmes, then it's not even close.

My main complaint about boot camps is that they give students the impression that the 2-6 month intense boot camp is close to what they will need to be successful in their career. It's not. However, my experience has been that after boot camp it's pretty easy to reorient those people to understanding that they will need to work hard to improve for their whole career. Basically, a good boot camp graduate is very similar in skill level to a good 2nd year coop/intern student -- but then they need to study the rest of the stuff on their own.

My main complaint about university programmes is actually pretty similar. People leave the programme with the idea "I know CS", sort of like how Neo knows kung fu in the Matrix. My experience has been that it's much harder to explain to new graduates that they still have a lot to learn. People with master's degrees are even harder to convince. In addition, because coop/intern sessions are poorly monitored, quite a lot of graduates are actually completely hopeless at programming.

But either way, I think you can make a successful career. Sometimes you see boot camp graduates complaining, "How could I have known that" when the answer is, "Yeah, having 4 years to screw around with this stuff and do a variety of different projects really helps". Sometimes I see CS graduates say, "Wait, this complexity is completely ridiculous. Nobody can be productive in this mess" when the answer is, "Yeah, working on realistic projects has a huge benefit".

I personally don't like the current generation of boot camps, mainly because of the potential to exploit the students badly. However, I think there is a huge need for something like them and I'm looking forward to seeing how things evolve. Having said that, for people who know they want to be a programmer and are young/able I still recommend getting a CS degree at the moment.

After accounting for the difference in cost and time required, quite possibly.

From my experience, boot camps are more frequently a supplement rather than a replacement to college education.

They have a much lower acceptance rate than the vast majority of CS programs.

You'd need to compare them to Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley etc...

Being intellectually honest, I'd have to say that they aren't really comparable. The low acceptance rate is true, but the sheer amount of completely unacceptable applications that are filled out after seeing one of these "make 75k in 3 months" ads contributes heavily to the percentage.

I attended this school and while most of my classmates were highly-intelligent people of diverse backgrounds, I can absolutely say it is much easier to get into Flatiron school than any of the programs listed above.

I've heard that many people who don't know any coding at all often apply to bootcamps and simply just flunk the first coding assessment they get. They probably help account for much of the low admissions rate at any half decent bootcamp (that have coding assessments).

why do people think coding bootcamps are a replacement for a CS degree? 99% of successful bootcamp grads already have a previous Bachelor's degree and use the bootcamp as a career changer.

I think it's fair to demonstrate that you actually know how to teach adult humans, regardless of the subject matter. A license is a fair standard to measure. Maybe the license criteria need to be modernized?

It is incredibly annoying that access to education is held behind barriers of entry that discriminate based on socioconomics and race. Education has fallen behind industry demands and global standards. The industry has already failed this test of "demonstrating they actually know how to teach adult humans."

1. Education industry fails to meet industry demands and to offer fair, affordable education

So, 2: Innovators ask, "If it pleases the crown, we would like to be allowed to try to fill this gap and offer an education that people can voluntarily pay for if they desire."

3. Only if we say so. Prove to us you can teach adult humans, peon.

4. But you already failed to do this? And you had the advantage of taxpayer dollars funding you. Why do you have authority?

The school should be punished and pay compensation for lying. However, we should not hand over the right to offer education to a government that, given the opportunity to provide it, failed the competency test to "actually teach adult humans" already.

Any accredidation should be voluntary.

Anyone can teach. Just look at the Khan Academy -- Sal started by just posting YouTube videos of his voice over Microsoft Paint.

The thing that is held behind a barrier is issuing a credential. And it seems reasonable that someone generating diplomas (or claims they can teach you enough to get you a job) should itself be held to accreditation or a standards body.

But we (software developers in industry) could be making that standards body, rather than sitting on our butts and waiting for the government to do it.

I agree. I don't think government is useless, but private industry is much better at innovation and meeting consumer demand.

A story everyone speaking of education reform should be cognizant of is that of Jaime Escalante.

Another issue aside from innovating to meet demand: Personally, if I want to sit down tomorrow and earn a degree in a subject, I don't know why I can't just self study and take exams to do this. To me, anyone in the world being able to earn the equivalent of a Harvard degree appears to be the ultimate policy in dismantling inequality and advancing opportunity. Why should Harvard degrees be limited to a small number of people? They really shouldn't.

> To me, anyone in the world being able to earn the equivalent of a Harvard degree appears to be the ultimate policy in dismantling inequality and advancing opportunity.

What happens in the classroom is largely not what defines a Harvard degree/graduate -- quite the contrary, actually. While some classes are very well taught, many of them round to something like "hey, you're smart, I'm going to pretend to teach, give you some reading lists, and you can figure it out for yourself."

There are little learning hacks like office hours (maybe) or talking with TAs (maybe), but again these are not the defining features of a Harvard grad (high quality or otherwise).

> take exams to do this

and who manufactures these magical exams you speak of, and on what authority?

They're not magical. If I want to be a doctor, there are two primary sets of exams I need to take: 1-the MCAT, and 2-the USMLE.

Both sets are managed by non profits.

There should be no reason why a poor minority, boy or girl, struggling to make ends meet in a rough neighborhood cannot get online, self study, and one day go and take a seat for these exams. In fact, this should be subsidized by government more than university classes--it is far more efficient and more fair, just better overall.

So these are the primary tests, both in a literal and figurative sense, which establish ability and competency to practice medicine.

After this point, getting the residency requirements and practical lab skills is just a formality.

If what it comes down to is basically some exams, we should be able to give more people access to that. Especially in STEM fields.

> They're not magical.

> Both sets are managed by non profits.

without an explanation as to how these non-profits are founded, given authority to regulate a given credential, and populated with people, fail to see how 2 negates 1.

Wait... You think someone should be allowed to self-study, take a test, and be a medical doctor?

You can do this with some professions, but I'd like to think my medical doctor has had actual experience with living people and cadavers.

Read my post again. Someone should be able to circumvent the academic complex's monopoly on credentials, as long as they can demonstrate the same aptitude and proficiency.

At that point, as I said, the hospital training is just a formality with some exceptions. Surgeons obviously need to demonstrate dexterity and composure. Candidates need to show up to work on time, etc.

Residency is not just a formality. A pre-residency doctor is about as useful as a fresh CS grad who has never seen, or worked on a real codebase in their life.

Except that instead of checking in awful, unmaintainable spaghetti, they'll be making life or death decisions.

I wouldn't let an unsupervised zero-work-experience fresh grad be solely responsible for a product. Doctors make important decisions - without any supervision or 'code review' on a daily basis.

Fair enough, either way we both agree there should still be residency.

That's marginally better. I'm still not sure I want a self trained physician. A lawyer who didn't go to school and still passed the bar is more acceptable.

We standardized for a reason. Could those standards be changed? Absolutely. I still don't think some poor person should be allowed online study and then to pass an exam and be a medical doctor.

What's wrong with 'some poor person'studying and passing an exam to be a doctor?

Fwiw, I'm still saying we should have residencies.

The same things wrong with a wealthy person doing so. There is much more than is on exams. Exams are easy to pass, experience is hard to fake. Much, much more is covered than exams cover. That stuff is also important.

If that is the case, then it equally applies to university students.

In both cases you study the material and are tested on it. There is nothing magical about paying to study inside a university.

They have more tests that are administered and you glossed over them covering more than is on the tests you mentioned.

It sounds like you're on board with the testing idea, but just think the tests should be more/longer.

And more intermittent. They cover things in medical school that are important (and tested for in class) that don't make their way to the final examination. Those are things a medical doctor should know.

There are also labs that cover things that aren't going to be on the tests. There are practical examinations along the way. It's a whole big process and fairly standardized for a reason. It's not like many other disciplines. I got to witness my daughter go through it.

As much as love her and think she's the most brilliant person ever, she needed the full educational experience and would benefit from more. In fact, many medical doctors keep adding to their education.

I think a lot of us here are engineers who came from unrelated disciplines, or some even with no formal education at all beyond HS.

Other fields could be the same way, if they could get over the cultural and authoritarian bureaucracies. Architecture has less scientific foundations, but it's nearly impossible to do without the prestige of an academic institution.

Medicine is one of the most difficult fields, but I still think if you can demonstrate the same ability, you should be able to go to a residency program.

Academia has an unfair grip on modern credentials, and I think that is one of the great things about tech. For example, some of the very most brilliant modern innovators abandoned academia, Musk, Gates and Newell come to mind.

They can CLEP some classes and skip them. That sort of helps.

In med school or just in undergrad?

An objective test removes the power of picking winners and losers from the academics, they will never allow that to happen.

Not everyone can teach well. I've also found that folks who have never had a good teacher in a particular topic don't realize how much disparity there can be.

"The school should be punished and pay compensation for lying. However, we should not hand over the right to offer education to a government that, given the opportunity to provide it, failed the competency test to "actually teach adult humans" already."

"The government" can only do the job that elected politicians allow it to do: the dedication and professionalism of front-line staff can easily be wasted by poor strategy and questionable agendas from the people at the top. Source: 10 years experience working in education.

Innovators == scammers

Most law schools lie about their graduate employment prospects as well. If the risk of being caught times the penalty is smaller than the increased revenue, why not fudge the numbers?

> I think it's fair to demonstrate that you actually know how to teach adult humans, regardless of the subject matter.

This is way too generic. To grant a standardized degree (e.g., BS, MBA, PhD), sure. As a generic, "show me that you are qualified to teach adults before I let you" I could not disagree more. Adults can decide what they want to learn (karate or Python, basket weaving or machine learning) and where they want to go. The state's role, if there is one, should be to inform, not limit the options. My 2c.

The state's role, if there is one, should be to inform, not limit the options

No opinion about this. But taxpayer's money should not be used to enable schools that do not provide an adequate education. No one is better off with a diploma from ITT Technical Institute or Corinthian College, there is no good reason for places like ITT or Corinthian to exist and even less reason to support them with public money.

Why is that needed for this particular field though? I don't have to have a license to be hired as a software developer or manager. I'd go to a bootcamp because their graduates get good jobs and I've heard good things about the experience, not because they got a license from someone.

but did the students learn more?

You're assuming bootcamps have been valuable. They haven't. They're complete garbage.

I've worked with bootcamp grads who have been pretty good, and hadn't already learned how to code. I also have friends who started out as non-coders, went through bootcamps, and are now doing really well.

Though it may seem obvious to people here (on HN) this is a much bigger problem in the industry than people realize. In many ways these bootcamps are repeating the problems found at trade schools in the past. I taught at one for a year, MakerSquare, and found it to be a rewarding and positive experience however I know people at others, including the company that ended up buying MakerSquare who have had different experiences.

When I worked MakerSquare about three years ago they, Hack Reactor, and I think Dev Bootcamp were trying to lead an initiative that would lead to standardized reporting of hiring stats. This was something we were excited about at MakerSquare because our hiring stats were legitimately great at the time and we knew that in many cases this wasn't true of our competitors. When Hack Reactor bought the company it was assuring to see that they were finding similar success.

One thing that concerns me today, however, is that I still see ads on Facebook and other places for Hack Reactor's immersive program that report the exact same stats they were reporting three years ago. I find it very, very hard to believe those numbers are still accurate. In fact I'd go so far as to say they must be lying. They expanded their program dramatically through acquisition (MakerSquare and others) and then ramping up a very large "remote" program (a program that follows the same curriculum but taught entirely online). When I left MakerSquare (then acquired by Hack Reactor) I was under the impression that career services were not provided for remote students. They must be messing with the numbers somehow.

There needs to be more honesty in the industry because I believe there really is a great opportunity to do good.

Hi there -- I'm a cofounder at Hack Reactor.

I agree with your headline: this is a much bigger problem than people realize. The solution is CIRR (http://cirr.org). CIRR schools -- including Hack Reactor -- generally report outcome statistics that are similar to Course Report's third-party industry averages (~70% placement rate), whereas non-CIRR schools generally report 9X%.

It sounds like you've gotten the a couple of wrong impressions about Hack Reactor. No offense taken (thanks for the kind words too!) and I hope you don't mind if I issue some corrections:

We don't use out-of-date statistics in our marketing, and we really don't market based off of statistics at all. It is hard to do so given the problem you pointed out. If you see out-of-date statistics anywhere, it is a grave error that I would love to correct. Please screenshot and email to shawn@hackreactor.com. Current statistics are on our site and cirr.org.

Students in our remote program receive the same career services that our other campuses do: about a third of student-facing staff work full-time on helping alums get jobs. The program is not very large (~20 students per cohort) and is one of our better-performing "campuses".

> third-party industry averages (~70% placement rate)

The ~70% placement rate seems to refer to what percentage of applicants get full time jobs within 6 months of graduating. For within 3 months of graduating, the placement rate seems to drop to 30-40%. (See https://cirr.org/data)

I was referring to Course Report's third-party industry averages, 75.2% within 180 days.


What you said is also true though.

I graduated from HR recently and they do have their CIRR reporting stuff and it's pretty well done. They have tried to drag other bootcamps into using the same statistics, but there is no incentive to do that.

I can't speak to their advertising and if the new numbers are reflected in that. I can't see bootcamps being around in 5 years without some major changes.

P.S. Career services are provided for remote students.

> P.S. Career services are provided for remote students.

Good to hear. There was some debate about whether or not to provide services when I was there. I do wonder how effective those services are however. A big part of providing them is relationships with hiring partners in cities. It's a very tough thing to do from afar.

Oh shoot. Now I see what you're talking about and there's something real there. There are actually two teams that help students: one that builds employer relationships, and one that is a career coach and accountability buddy. The latter does the lion's share of the work at all campuses. The former is less-useful to remote alums that look for jobs outside of SF/LA/NY/ATX but they do still put in serious effort (eg we have partners in ATL, Dallas). Hope that clears things up.

> There needs to be more honesty in the industry because I believe there really is a great opportunity to do good.

As long as there is money to be made by throwing around misleading statistics, this is unfortunately not going to happen.

I think bootcamp students and grads need to do more to give back and also clear any misconceptions about the process. I am currently going through one and am recording a long-form narrative documentary about the process following the paths of 8 students in a panel at impostor-syndrome.org.

Transparency can come from many fronts.

Funny to look back at this now: https://nyti.ms/2vtd04V

NYT on 24 August 2017: "The Flatiron School in New York may have discovered one path. Founded in 2012, Flatiron has a single campus in downtown Manhattan and its main offering is a 15-week immersive coding program with a $15,000 price tag. More than 95 percent of its 1,000 graduates there have landed coding jobs."

two months later

NY AG, 17 October 2017: "However, Flatiron did not disclose clearly and conspicuously that the 98.5% employment rate included not only full time salaried employees but also apprentices, contract employees and self-employed freelance workers, some who were employed for less than twelve weeks. Similarly, Flatiron failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose that its $74,447 average salary claim included full time employed graduates only, which represent only 58% of classroom graduates and 39% of online graduates."

Makes the Times look pretty stupid and/or like shills either unwitting or paid!

I don't know why you're being downvoted. The epitome of so-called "fake news" is a newspaper reprinting stats a private corporation provides it in a matter-of-fact tone as the Times did here.

Instead of writing, "More than 95 percent of its 1,000 graduates there have landed coding jobs." The Times should've written "Flatiron claims more than 95 percent of its 1,000 graduates there have landed coding jobs." Those two words Flatiron claims are the difference between reporting and restating as fact.

In fairness to the Times I wouldn't call this fake news; just slightly sloppy reporting. Fake news implies that it's deliberately misleading which this doesn't appear to be. They are simply repeating claims.

Flatiron was going around parading themselves as the only coding school to get their job statistics audited by a third party, so I don't necessarily blame the NYT for believing their claims.

Ironic that the only audited school is now the one having issues with misleading statistics.

We have become inured to the Times's anti-journalistic practice of "simply repeating claims" for years now, but it's still a problem worth pointing out.

Or perhaps, as seen directly in the quote "Flatiron did not disclose clearly and conspicuously...".

Duke Law School maintains a 100% post-graduation employment rate by ... paying its otherwise jobless graduates at the exact moment the statistics are counted.


Many coding schools also hire graduates as teaching assistants.

At the bootcamp I went to, this was below "get a job at Google" and above "get a job at a generic start-up" in desirability. It both paid well and providing excellent networking opportunities.

yep ^ it also provided a way to work on your algo/interview questions for a few more months without having to worry about money. the job hunt can take upwards of 3 or 4 months, and it's a lot easier to get a good job if you already have an income.

The issue isn't fake employment stats.

If you read the AG release, the complaint was that "Flatiron did not disclose clearly and conspicuously" what the 98.5% and $75k numbers consisted of.

This information was included, in detail, in each of their job reports. This is from their earliest one from December of 2014:

"Of the 225 job seeking graduates with salary information available:

a. 162 accepted full-time salaried roles,

b. Forty-one accepted paid apprenticeships (An apprenticeship is defined as a paid position of defined duration, usually 8-12 weeks, often paid hourly and on a contract basis. Often an apprenticeship is used to evaluate a candidate for full time salaried status),

c. Twelve accepted contractor positions (A contractor position is defined as full-time or voluntary part-time, paid at market rate, and without the expectation that the initial rate is temporary and will be re-evaluated in 3-6 months).

d. Ten accepted freelance opportunities."

"7. Initial compensation for the full-time salaried roles ranged as follows:

a. Salary range of $40,000-$59,999 – nine individuals,

b. Salary range of $60,000-$69,999 – forty-six individuals,

c. Salary range of $70,000-$79,999 – forty-four individuals,

d. Salary range of $80,000-$89,999 – thirty-eight individuals,

e. Salary range of $90,000+ - nineteen "

On the web pages that contained the 98.5% and 74k figures, there was a link to download the report with the detailed data. The AG did not think that was clear enough for consumers - likely because the average consumer isn't going to download and read the details.

There's a difference between saying the data wasn't clear enough and the data was fraudulent. In this case, they are not disputing the numbers, they were disputing the marketing around those numbers.

Full Disclosure: I am a Flatiron alum and I worked at Flatiron for 3 years. I have problems with the top-level management team and would not work for any of them again. None of my reasons are related to their desire and ability to create great outcomes for the students that come through Flatiron School. I would (and have) recommend the immersive programs to people who want to start careers in web development.

Wow. This was impressive.

I can't remember last time I saw anyone but lawyers manage to defend someone they really don't like

It seems the headline numbers were intentionally misleading, not just not 'clear enough'.

I would agree, and I think a fine of this magnitude seems appropriate. "Buyer beware" is not a good excuse. In dream world where people have infinite time to parse fine print, it maybe could work. But in the real world, there is tremendous information asymmetry at play. A school should be focused on how to present information in a way that can be readily understood.

excellent response, very fair of you to disclose and defend the parts that you think are worth defending

I know some folks who graduated from Galvanize's Data Science program. They were told that historically 90% of graduates find jobs in 6 months. She is 6 months out, and only half of her cohort has a job.

As someone who attended that program, the statistics are rosier than they're reporting. I have examined the employment claims, and know the program pretty well.

I believe the 90% claim, historically, is close to valid. A fairer representation might have been 5 in 6 (83.3%), but it was pretty close to the mark. You can see where people in the early cohorts are working, and the success rate is very high.

What has changed? (1) Job market is more competitive. There are more "graduates" of "boot camp"s out there, as well as graduates of accredited degree programs.

(2) Admissions standards have dropped. With more boot camps, there are more students attending boot camps everywhere. Galvanize used to admit half as many students. Correspondingly, less qualified applicants are attending boot camps than before. More than half the reason prior Galvanize graduates succeeded in obtaining data-scientific positions was because many of them were already very well qualified for many STEM jobs _before_ entering the program.

(3) Hiring standards have tightened. With a body of data scientists out there, organizations don't need to hire newbies.

Boot camps can augment your résumé, but can't substitute for lack of relevant experience. A data science bootcamp will have great difficulty in magically taking a person from 0 to a data scientist job offer in the absence of relevant experience. Many of the people I've seen struggle to obtain employment had thin résumés before entering the program or had weak interview skills.

The 90% number might be valid historically, but as we all know, the more important number is your chance moving forward.

I've heard the cold, hard truth about DS bootcamps is that your job prospects after completing one will be about the same as they were prior to the bootcamp.

I did a data science program with another org, and while I had an extremely positive experience and got a great job out of it - I do think the sales pitch of these programs can be very misleading, especially to those coming in with less experience.

They would have you believe that you can come in with little to no relevant experience, spend 3 months learning ML in python and walk out with a job as a Data Scientist - when the reality is what job you can land post-bootcamp is probably going to be based on what experience you had going in. A couple years of experience in analytics, research, finance, or similar plus a DS bootcamp will lead to a very different outcome than 1-2 years of sales or retail + the same bootcamp.

But that's not a great sales pitch from the bootcamp org, so its "in 3 Months you'll be a data scientist working on cutting edge ML/AI!" instead of "in 3 months you can probably get an entry level data scientist role if you have 2+ years of relevant experience, or if you're completely new to this a data analyst job where if you work hard and keep your skills up in the mean time you can get a better gig in a year or two!".

From my own experiences looking for a job in SF (where Galvanize has a strong DS base), full-time Data Science positions typically require a Masters/PhD, even if it is stated as optional on the application.

I did meet a Galvanize DS grad who was working as a DS at a large SF startup...in a probationary role created explicitly for bootcamp graduates. (I had applied for the same startup with a strong referral and was eventually ghosted due to lack of Masters/Phd)

* Past Performance Is Not Indicative Of Future Results

Sure, but you've got bigger problems when...

* Past performance may actually be totally made up.

Galvanize just updated their public placement statistics. They are currently at 81% - https://www.galvanize.com/san-francisco/data-science#outcome...

An HN user's perspective as a Flatiron student, from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11734796

> One of the things that attracted me to Flatiron School was their audited jobs placement report. Very detailed statistics about how many students graduate, how long it takes them to find jobs, and how much they earn. I've never seen traditional colleges hold themselves to that standard of disclosure.

Apparently these phony statistics played a huge role in many student's choices to attend.

edit: 'illegitimate' or 'misleading' would apparently be a better choice than 'phony.'

That quote is from me, and it’s true that the (apparently illegitimate) stats influenced my decision to attend Flatiron. It’s very possible that I would have made other choices if the numbers looked different.

Still, at the end of the day I’m getting a lot more mileage out of my Flatiron experience than I have from any of my three degrees from “real” accredited schools.

I really enjoy my job as a dev, and based on the amount of recruiter spam I get, feel that I have lots of flexibility and options should I ever need them.

I hope that whatever changes arise from this don’t impede Flatiron from making constant changes to their curriculum, and employing amazing non-certified instructors like the ones I am honored to have studied with.

Just to be super clear, I didn't mean to pass any judgement on the choice of attending nonetheless. Bootcamps seem like a great value and I'm glad to hear you're doing well!

Disclosure: I worked at Flatiron School from 2014-2016.

I just want to point out the the numbers in the audited jobs report were never 'phony'. The report, which was available for download long before the settlement, clearly shows the %s of full-time salaried, full-time contract, part time and self employment used for the totals.

My understanding of the settlement is that the AG's office was upset that the quoted numbers in advertisements did not make the type of employment clear and did not make it clear that the average salary included only the employed students who took a full-time salaried position.

This was certainly a misleading aspect of the advertising, but a prospective student who downloaded and read the report would have been able to see these numbers clearly.

But it isn't just the ads or how outcomes are portrayed with a broad brush on the school website to prospective students. It's how the CEO of the Flatiron School answers direct questions from prospective students and interested others online. Here's a question from Quora answered by Adam Enbar, the CEO of The Flatiron School:

question: "The rise of the coding boot camp has resulted in a recognized glut of junior developers. How does Flatiron plan to distinguish its students in future?"

Enbar's answer, in part: "Look at salary data and remember what we’re talking about here: a three-month educational program that leads to a ~$75,000 salary (for Flatiron graduates; Course Report lists about $68k for a national average of bootcamp grads). The point at which there are more people prepared for those jobs than there are existing job openings, we will see salaries decrease—that’s supply and demand. But the “price” to hire a developer has not gone down because the supply has not grown enough. There may be a giant, growing supply of unqualified talent who are not getting jobs. But the supply of qualified talent? It’s been so far behind the demand that the salaries have not lowered. (It’s also worth noting that for a three-month education training program, given average salaries across this country, a $75,000 salary is insane! There is room for average salaries to come down and still provide a great ROI on bootcamps, so long as they are providing outcomes.)..." ---

He doesn't even answer the question! He challenges its "assumption" that there is a glut of junior dev talent out there now in a tightening market. He offers no information about how future Flatiron grads will distinguish themselves in this market except the implication that they will continue to get jobs and make money because these jobs are just so plentiful, and he implies that Flatiron grads are just so exceptionally skilled. "Skills Gap", the old refrain- but the issue of this recent ruling is that the Flatiron School's outcomes in this junior dev job-plentiful market aren't as super duper! as they make them out to be. (or since Enbar claims there are just so many junior dev jobs, perhaps Flatiron grads aren't distinguishing themselves within that pool?...which was the original question he was supposedly answering) Then, Enbar flatly states that his coding bootcamp leads to ~$75,000 salary job. He even says that it's "insane"!But do note the huge emphasis on supply and demand (and the salary lowering potential offered by a "distant" future glut) for these ~$75,000 jobs. It's a long answer, but within his answer, Enbar cites a graph from code.org highlighting everybody's favorite "skills gap". The problem is again conflict of interest with this graph and where it comes from- the source is not an uninterested party just doing a study. The founder/CEO of code.org, Hadi Partovi is an investor. Code.org itself is supported by donations from all of the big tech companies who would ever require coding talent. These companies have an interest in driving supply so that one day, salaries cold be lowered, and one day, H1B visas could be a thing of the past to solve this "skills gap" "problem". In fairness, toward the end, Enbar points to the outcomes report link from The Flatiron School, but the real deal is always hidden in the fine print. And there isn't even enough detail in the report to get a real handle on who gets what. That would be the "transparency" Enbar constantly 'advocates for". This ruling is just scratching the surface's surface of what is going on in these bootcamps and with this so-called "skills gap". We need an anonymous transparency platform. Enbar says he's all for real transparency when it comes to coding education and this "skills gap". So I'm guessing he won't mind.

"Under today’s agreement, Flatiron will pay $375,000 in restitution to eligible graduates"

That's better than a fine. Though, it does mention 1000 students total, so perhaps not enough.

The school, which has taught approximately 1,000 students, charges students between $12,000 and $15,000 for a 12 to 16 week in-person class and approximately $1,500 a month for online coding classes.

Let's assume a very conservative estimate of 800 students doing 1 of online work, and 200 students paying $12k for a class. That works out to $1.2M in online tuition, and $2.4M in in-person tuition. Given how conservative my estimate is, $375k seems like a pittance for operating without a license and lying about success rates.

It's funny, I did the same math and concluded there's no way they profited enough from this scheme to cover the cost of noncompliance. Even if they took $3.6M in revenue, they had to pay salaries, expensive rent, and overhead for 5 years. That's barely scraping by. Hopefully they're sitting on a pile of investor money they can use to pay this settlement.

You're forgetting the dropouts. For every online student who graduates from Flatiron, there are many—maybe a dozen, maybe more—who drop out. Flatiron bills online students monthly, so they're raking in a good deal of money from dropouts who can't get their money back.

You need to flip the number, the online program is relatively new. The 1,000 taught reflects mostly in-person students.

Bang. You nailed it. So, so far from enough. These students are being told that there is a lack of skilled labor in tech. The city makes a tech-talent pipeline! It seems to the students like a huge opportunity. The news gets Katie Couric on it! And then they are presented with these really positive outcomes that are "verified". It seems like a lot of work to them, but it also looks like real hope.

In the end, when the truth is revealed, each eligible student gets only $375? That might be enough for some raw denim. Who cares about any kind of certification? Real penalties for false claims alone would do it. How about providing each student with that salary they signed up to the program for for a full year? I have a feeling the teaching would get a whole lot better and the admissions process would keep the program small and help with individual mentorship. Not only are these programs wasting students' money, but they are eating up their time in a youth-favoring labor landscape. These schools should have to pay hefty restitution to every student who, encouraged by the so-called "verified", robust outcomes, signed up, and who eventually stopped doing their online course mid-program because they correctly assessed the bootcamp's lack of honesty/interest/vigor regarding the post-apocalyptic tundra that is the web-dev software employment landscape for career changers just entering it.

If a student/grad gets more employer response from a résumé with the "well-respected" bootcamp removed from it...is that something that gets a bootcamp to hold a school-wide pow-wow to brainstorm ideas on how to approach the issue? Does the director send everyone a sincere and heartfelt apology for that? Are there transparent steps taken to get to the bottom of the issue and change it? No, the problem(s) get buried deep under the suffocating culture of infinite positivity that is designed to mute productive critique (that critique, if encouraged, might inspire positive change).

The current students and grads talk to each other and find out just how few employers are interested in bootcamp grads, and of those employers the even smaller group who is interested in bootcamp grads who are also career changers and let's just say "those who are not an obvious culture fit".

On one hand, this is a total pittance, on the other hand the value from getting actual statistics out there is pretty huge. I don't know if reaching a small settlement helped with that, but kudos to the AG for shining some light on the issue.

I'm also happy about it being restitution vs a fine that goes to the government. The latter happens often.

And the $375k understates the 'total cost of ownership'. I am sure legal fees ran them anywhere from $50k to several hundred thousand additional.

I was a hiring manager at a large shop in NYC. During that time I hired and worked with Flatiron School graduates. I know it's just anecdotal evidence, but I found them to be extremely competent, driven and bright, even in comparison to my non-bootcamp people, maybe even more so.

Jeff Casimir, admittedly somewhat biased, can lay claim to being one of the world's top experts on running code bootcamps. He has a great writeup about it here: https://medium.com/@turingschool/why-i-recommend-flatiron-sc...

I would give Avi and Flatiron School the benefit of the doubt in this case. I don't think they were out to do anything malicious or fraudulent.

I was a student at Hack Reactor Remote. They were supposed to be one of the best bootcamps. I don't know how they do it, but I feel like their stats are completely false. Most of the members in my cohort are still unemployed and they provide little guidance. They might have been good 5 years ago, but it seems times have changed.

Do you feel qualified after your bootcamp experience? I think there will always be those with a developer mindset, and even already writing code, that join a bootcamp, and those will be the ones capable of getting hired and being productive. I feel that the bootcamps leverage that to pitch to another group: those who haven't coded before, and want some of that good cheddar. In the end they aren't really ready to professionally exercise those skills without significant hand-holding, which most employers aren't interested in. (Though some may be interested in growing developers with novice-level skills at a beginning salary at 1/2 or less of the typical junior-level)

Not sure I understand the misleading salary/job type part.

Flatirons full jobs report for 2017 is here: Online: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/69751/2017%20Online%20Outcome...

Onsite: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/69751/NYCJobsReport%20July%20...

Looks like these reports were made before the fine. Inside these reports, salary and job type are broken down and clearly stated.

Were these reports altered after the fact?

The fine is for the stats that were on places like their website. They didn't define the stats clearly on their site.

I had the same question when I saw those.

Before the fine is not before the investigation though.

They may have changed those as the investigation started and they got questions about the disclosure.

They may have fined them on the basis of the students who went through the program before they made the changes.

Why are students willing to pay so much to for-profit coding boot camps? In many areas you can learn the same skills from community colleges and university extensions for far lower tuition. For example in the Bay Area the UCSC Extension has a good reputation and offers several certificate programs in software development.


I think the length of the program is a good place to start: 15 weeks full time vs. 9-12 months full-time is a huge difference: https://www.ucsc-extension.edu/certificate-programs?cname=So...

I know people I've talked to (work with a similar company) feel the weight of family duty very heavily with career decisions. Having children or other family to be responsible for is one of the things that holds people back. Child care is incredibly expensive and having to carry that burden on your own can be very taxing and can get in the way of your work if you're at home.

Shorter runway to earn more is a much more desirable option.

Hi! I paid $18k to attend Hack Reactor in 2015 because:

1. I got to write code in an environment alongside other equally motivated peers, because let's face it: An $18k commitment is more difficult to let go of than a few credits at a community college

2. Our focus was on writing code and doing things that professional software engineers did, not satisficing or cheating our way towards a letter or percentage grade

My tuition also mostly paid for itself with the +$15k they helped me negotiate with my first job.

I think part of the sell was that the bootcamp had built more specific professional contacts than a community college might have, or had agreements with employers which a community college wouldn't bother with. Community colleges also take longer.

That bootcamps produce similar graduates as (community) colleges in less time is up for discussion, but having to fudge your numbers as FlatIron has done doesn't necessarily move the debate in your favor.

The shady employment outcome reporting issue mirrors a problem that has plagued law schools for years.

In the worst cases, all 200 or so U.S. law schools would boast about high percentages of students landing 6-figure starting salaries. In reality, schools often only disclosed statistics based on students who completed enrollment surveys.

https://www.lawschooltransparency.com came about as a resource to try to correct the record, but surely a lot of young people got swept up in the marketing only to discover the real outlook was much more grim.

It's not surprising that law schools seem to figure prominently in these sorts of stories. They used to be a fairly reliable meal ticket for liberal arts majors who decide it's time to get a real job. These days, especially outside of the very top schools, employment prospects aren't great and neither is pay even for those who do find a position.

I'm not the biggest job-hopper, but I've worked at 3 companies in the last 5 years in the NYC area, and have never once worked with, known anyone who's once worked with, or knew a hiring manager who would even consider someone whose only significant background in software was a coding bootcamp. For those who've experienced it, are they hired out of desperation into firms that need manpower and have enough more senior devs. to get them up to working competency or what?

All of the last 3 companies I've worked at in NYC (Percolate, Etsy, and a seed stage startup) have hired multiple engineers straight out of bootcamps. They often were hired into junior roles but if they proved themselves, they would advance. Bootcamp grads are hungry, they're usually taught how to code collaboratively and how to push code to production (skills that are usually less emphasized in CS curriculum). Bootcamps aren't going away and would imagine your experience will be less and less common over time.

Same at Tumblr and Rent the Runway. As a hiring manager I have hired bootcamp grads that showed plenty of promise, and they have all worked out great.

thanks for giving bootcamp grads a chance!

I specifically seek out Bootcamp grads. I once hired a CS grad 3 years ago that didn't have even basic Git/Github skills, had never used CI, among other things. He could algorithm with the best of them, but the last time I had to actually write a binary search tree was at a coding interview. Yet optimizing ActiveRecord queries or tweaking Varnish configurations -- that's something I deal with regularly.

Obviously not all CS grads are clueless, but unless they spend some time independently learning something beyond the college curriculum, they're often worthless when they start their first job. A bootcamp person (I've hired from General Assembly in NYC,) can generally build a complete CRUD app without much help, including deploying it to AWS or Heroku, using SCM correctly and ensuring it's covered with tests.

Of course, everyone's business has different needs. If I were working with SPARK or Ada on ultra-critical systems, at the entry level, I'd definitely prefer the CS grad, but for general web applications, the bootcamp grad often hits the ground running.

My brother and I both took one. He's at Goldman Sachs, and I work for a company that builds medical software. I finished my course 3.5 years ago and 75% of my class are still working as developers. Major employers include Google, Conde Nast, JPM, GS. Most people work for mid/small size companies so they could get better mentorship than the corporate life.

I think one major issue people like you have is that they don't realize that most people who take these courses aren't baristas. My class average was late 20s with 5+ years of proven work experience, most frequently in high professions (law, medicine, finance). I worked in finance for 6 years. I didn't need to take "CS250" to be capable of learning data structures. I just did it on the job instead of over one semester. It's easy to train people who have a proven history of success at work. It is much harder to gamble on a 22 year old with no work experience, regardless of their degree. That's a pretty easy decision for many hiring managers.

Yes. Many coding boot camps are full of people who are simply very employable. I think that's part of the reason why some of their hiring stats are so good-- there's huge selection and survivorship biases in their grads. I went to a bc 4 yrs ago and several of my classmates had cs degrees or actual work exp in a software dev role.

There are plenty of reasons to go to a bc besides "welp, I woke up today and felt like being an engineer"-- maybe you're working for a doomed company, or you want to change cities, you feel your growth is limited at your current gig, or you just want a break from your routine. Ymmv but it's a mistake to flat out dismiss all bc grads.

I've worked with two folks from (Bay Area) bootcamps. Those two were fine junior developers; compare with someone just out of school. One was actually quite a bit better than someone just out of school, because he was a bit older and had real-world experience that filled in a lot of blanks.

Not saying that's normal. But my very limited experience with bootcampers has been positive.

Yes, they were hired for the same reason bootcamps exist: demand.

In NYC - We brought someone on from a bootcamp a few months ago. He's the best bootcamp grad we talked to BY FAR and everyone more senior wouldn't take less than triple the salary we're all taking. We're a really small team, also.

I've hired 5 people from flatiron school, all of which worked out very well. desperation had nothing to do with it, I found the folks there were very helpful with matching potential candidates to what I was looking for. Additionally, I found candidates to have more diverse backgrounds on average and that was a positive thing for me.

Of course, anyone coming out of a bootcamp (or undergrad if they have no work experience) is going to be a relatively inexperienced hire, and not all companies have the inclination/ability/experience/desire to support these kinds of hires and the mentorship they require.

I've been a hiring manager for a very long time, and my opinion is that it's foolish to dismiss any potential source of candidates, especially one where you are not directly competing with google/facebook/amazon/goldman sachs. Many people from flatiron have engineering or math degrees, and realized after school they loved to code.

Also, back in the day, when I was a sophmore in college, someone hired me to be a sysadmin when the only experience I had was running the network in my college dorm for 6 months. Within a very short time I was writing all kinds of code, learning a ton, and making small but meaningful contributions. I've worked as a software engineer ever since. My first boss took a risk on me, and it worked out really well for him, and me. Some of the best hires I've ever made had skillsets that didn't, on paper, line up very well, but they turned out great. These experiences are why I'm willing to take risks in hiring.

I think most hiring managers are far too narrow minded when it comes to this stuff, although I understand why that's the case, too.

I've worked the last 5-6 years in the NYC area also - and I've seen plenty of companies that hired bootcamp grads, and have worked at one myself.

My anecdotal observation is that bootcamp grads favor consumer tech companies where the product (or sub-product) isn't very technologically complex, and has room for (very) junior developers. It does not take a senior dev nor a CS degree to stand up Rails and produce by-the-numbers CRUD workflow apps.

I think the reasons for hiring bootcamp grads are varied, but they are much cheaper than degreed candidates, get the job done (for junior-level work at least), and are "hungrier" than degreed candidates - especially compared with candidates from pedigree schools who sometimes perceive themselves as being above junior-level grunt code.

Anecdotally everyone I've hired from a bootcamp has worked out, but it's worth noting that the pickings can be slim. I reviewed two graduating classes for candidates and would say maybe 1/4 of them even come close to being interviewable.

We have a few folks from bootcamps. For our team, it gives us options into a pool of talent with other non-coding skills and backgrounds. For example, one of our developers from a bootcamp was an accountant, and another was a financial analyst. Both are useful skills for a fin-tech company [eShares].

My team specifically went to several bootcamps (three I believe) and interviewed at least 30 different people. Of them, only two of them barely passed the interview(s).

The one person we ended up hiring had previous experience in a very relevant field and we felt would add perspective. We recognized they would need some work and we all took / take time after work to work with them. They've improved a lot and now are a pretty potent developer (six months after we hired them).

I think that's probably a standard experience. Perhaps a 5% pass rate for new junior developers from bootcamps, followed up with a known need to develop them further. That's fine though, because we can pick them up at a much lower rate (initially) and grow them. Those people are usually much more loyal, and will have a lower turn over. As long as their salary grows consistently with their competency.

From my cohort several grads got jobs at Google/Amazon/Microsoft/Facebook right out of the bootcamp, and several more who have migrated to those companies after a year or two.

When I was interviewing right out of bootcamp, there were hiring / engineering managers who told me straight up that their companies would never hire bootcamp grads and that they didn't know any 'reputable' eng orgs that did either. Which was hilarious given that I knew people at the top companies whose only software background was in bootcamps.

Part of the reason is that most of my friends took the bootcamp experience off their linkedin after working for a year or two. It wasn't relevant anymore, and there were always people who think bootcamp grads only get hired out of desperation.

While I don't doubt some are hired out of desperation, most of the people I know hired out of bootcamps went to bigger companies that have the means (both funds and senior developers/mentors) and time to grow junior developers. While they don't have the CS background (notably data structures and algorithms), they usually have a step up on new grads in terms of collaborating on code, using modern frameworks, etc. They also generally take lower salaries than CS grads. So there's pros and cons to hiring bootcamp grads.

I hired a bootcamp graduate a few years ago. He worked out pretty well and is still with the company.

We (the interviewers) did spend a lot more time discussing him than other candidates that same year. He interviewed extremely well, had a compelling story about why he took the path he took, but we hadn't hired somebody without a 4-year STEM degree in ages. He was persistent, didn't get scared off by our hesitation, and we decided that his persistence was a strong enough additional signal to take the risk and make an offer.

Wow, you must not know anyone in NYC tech

Of all of the replies to my initial question, wherein I already confessed my insularity, yours is the only one I haven't upvoted.

I think there's some other world of NYC tech (maybe those oh-so-hip DUMBO companies?) but I have had the same experience. We get a flood of resumes from bootcamp grads whenever we post an opening for web dev or full stack and historically have found them difficult to hire.

Disclaimer: Former Flatiron School student here. I'm seeing a lot of comments (and the title) about fake employment stats. There is nowhere in the article that alleges this. FS clearly publishes their jobs report and make it extremely accessible from the homepage of their website. The AG does not dispute any numbers in this jobs report.

The main allegations, aside from the SED license, are that they did not clearly state their methods of arriving at these numbers on their marketing materials. While that's true, I have faith that someone who has been thinking seriously about a career change enough to apply to a costly educational program such as Flatiron School would do their research.

Based on my experience, I don't find the numbers they report to be surprising. I'm personally more than a year into my first job (was hired almost immediately out of FS at almost exactly their 'average salary') and many if not most of my classmates have a similar experience. Flatiron, like any school, has students who put in the extra effort and students who expect to be successful when they're done just because they showed up every day. Those students tended to struggle throughout the course, and many needed to take internships before landing a full-time gig.

When I first looked into Flatiron, I checked the jobs report. When I saw that 52% of grads landed a full-time job, my thought was not 'oh good this school gets me a job.' It was 'I know with relative certainty that I will learn enough to be useful in a full-time junior dev role if I continue to work my ass off.'

It's no surprise that DevBootcamp and Iron Yard, who recently closed, are not on the list of schools participating in CIRR (www.cirr.org/about). Also no surprise that Flatiron is also not in CIRR. Basically, any bootcamp not in CIRR is shady imho.

Full disclosure: I graduated from Hack Reactor in Austin, and got a job 2.5 months after graduation at a very reputable company in town. We also have 3 other HR grads, and a 30-ish person engineering team. This shit works. It's a shame schools like Flatiron drag the industry name down.

Pardon the throwaway to not identify myself from my actual account, which has lots of identify-able info.

This is what has always concerned me. A lot of bootcamps are popping up making it hard to figure out which ones are legitimate. On top of that, as a military vet, I have worked hard to figure out how to get the G.I. Bill to be used with these bootcamps. Today, not many qualify because of a number of variables, but mostly include how the curriculum is dynamic.

Flatiron is one of the better orgs with a pretty good reputation. It's tough to read that they've fallen short for their students. It causes a lot of anxiety for those trying to utilize these schools to learn coding.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good bootcamp?

I have an employee (graphic design) that has shown an aptitude in web development, but I do not have the time to devote to mentoring him.

I can afford to send him to a bootcamp, but stories like this make me hesitant.

Also, I have a front-end guy and a CS intern, who both could benefit from a SQL bootcamp (as another poster mentioned, team development, source control, and SQL do not seem to be emphasized in the CS curriculum). Is there such a thing?

I am only interested in on-site, immersive experiences for all of them.

Hack Reactor in SF is great. I did to enable my own career switch, and it was the most intellectually challenging and stimulating experience of my life. (Definitely more so than my college and grad school). It's a 12 week course with focus on full-stack web development, with the final four weeks dedicated to team projects. I recommend the program to anyone who's interested in bootcamps.

Hack Reactor recently merged with the Maker Academy, which had locations in SF, LA, and Austin. Not sure what the quality of the other campuses are, but I know that they all use the same syllabus / course material now. Hack Reactor on Market St is the original location.

No SQL bootcamp that I'm aware of, however.

I did AppAcademy, which seemed to deliver on the job placement rates when I attended (early 2015).

They spend about a week on SQL, mostly going through SQL Zoo, and later on you build your own toy clone of ActiveRecord.

For me, it was probably the best part of the whole curriculum -- it was the only part that I didn't already have experience in.

That said, I have sort of mixed feelings about that bootcamp and the industry as a whole right now. For the right people, on a short schedule, it's great. If you gave those same people the same curriculum for self study, they'd probably get the same out of it though. If your employee is motivated, I'd spend that same money on books and time in their schedule (or pay them for the extra study hours) and the promise of a pay bump if they can get through it and show competence.

I recently hired several graduates from General Assembly and several from CodingDojo in Washington DC to be junior engineers on a team including intermediate and senior engineers. I would hire them again in a heartbeat.

Many years ago I was consulting when HungryAcademy graduated 24 engineers into the ranks of a large Washington DC based company. And they were all excellent as well. That program was run by Jeff casimir, who has also started several other programs, not at Turing School in Colorado.

I'd recommend any of those programs based on first hand experience hiring their graduates.

1. https://www.freecodecamp.org/ 2. https://www.pluralsight.com/courses/introduction-to-sql 3. https://www.pluralsight.com/ Has lots of great concise courses. You can even speed up or slow down the play back. Especially would be good to get started now, vs in a few months.

if you are only interested in onsite you should probably state where you are. i'm at a NY bootcamp and you can get the full details at impostor-syndrome.org

I am willing to send them out of state, so as long as we are in the contine tal US, it is a possibility.

The answer is Hack Reactor or bust. Don't bother with any of the tier 2/3 Bootcamps such as general assembly, ect.

How is GA "tier 2/3" ?

Was that too high of a rating? We could call them tier 4 I guess. There isn't really any definition of how many tiers there are, so I didn't want to be too specific.

What are best options for low cost self study version of these bootcamps? I'm basically retired at 44, live outside of a city, and have time and motivation but need serious instruction. I don't need the employment finding part of this - but really like the structured "real world" focused curriculum vs some of the more academic offerings I've seen online.

>Reinvent your career at tech’s most trusted bootcamp

If this is "most trusted" , i wonder what shady stuff is going on in other bootcamps.

It's just marketing crap. The same way every company says "we're the leading software company doing X". Where is this chart that you're leading? Is your lead verified by someone else?

I wrote a pretty detailed breakdown of why this doesn’t actually mean what you think it means: https://medium.com/@turingschool/why-i-recommend-flatiron-sc...

Thank you for writing this. As someone who is about to apply to several software schools, the numerous and disparate opinions on HN about their quality / honesty / placement can really affect signal:noise. Sometimes people who appear to work in the industry say things that make it obvious they've done little or no research. Still their statements affect my deliberation even after parsing the numbers as carefully as I can--I'm an outsider making a calculation from a distance. Having followed you for some time since your CodeNewbie interview, I actually trust your words.

A while back, Zed Shaw was claiming to have some bootcamp takedown in the works based on dirt from students and insiders. But then nothing ever came of it. Not sure if he was afraid of getting sued or it was just posturing.

This is the same Zed Shaw who believes Python 3 isn't Turing-complete because it's not compatible with Python 2? Why should anyone take him seriously?

I'm not defending all of Shaw's ridiculous critiques of Python 3, but the Turing-complete thing was a joke.

The conversation, IIRC, was something like this:

ZS: Why can't I import or translate Python2 into Python3?

P3: That would be a technically challenging thing to do.

ZS: But surely it is technically possible, even if it is pragmatically unfeasible?

P3: We can't do it.

ZS: OK, Python 3 must be Turing-incomplete, ha ha ha!

source: https://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/nopython3.html

It was definitely not interpreted as a joke by the target audience (people who are new to programming, let alone to the idea of Turing-completeness) - e.g., the third Google result for 'zed shaw turing' is a Reddit thread containing this comment: https://www.reddit.com/r/shittyprogramming/comments/5ejbr9/p...

So, I don't know if he was serious and then later edited that page to say it was a joke, or if he meant it as a joke and intended to misteach beginners, or if he meant it as a joke and did not realize he was misteaching beginners, but in all three of those cases, I don't see why he's a person worth listening to, especially on the subject of training programmers.

Never heard about that. Maybe it was all bluster then to promote his own stuff over bootcamps.

A side note/question.

How did they (both the school/bootcamp and the General Attorney) verify the data?

I mean, I go to the bootcamp and give them US$ 15,000 for the course (whether this is a fair amount or not is a distinct matter).

I learn something, get a diploma/certificate whatever and that's it, reciprocal obligation are fulfilled, it's not like we became friends or something like that.

I then find a job in the field.

Why would I:

1) tell them that I found a job in the field (or outside the field for what it matters)?

2) tell them how much I make on that job?

How is this an example of how the private industry needs to take over on education? This is the opposite. Proof that you can't let commercial interests override public interests.

Online schools like Treehouse don't have to worry about local regulations, or pay for a building.

Why hasn't capitalism made flipping the classroom a reality?

I'd like to see standardized employment stats from traditional universities.

The Dean's letter to the students after the recent settlement

Hi Joseph,

On Friday the New York Attorney General announced a settlement with Flatiron School. In the press release, they discussed our licensure and our student outcomes. Everyone at Flatiron School and our community has felt this deeply and we wanted to speak to you directly.

Regarding our license - we’ve been working with the NY State licensing agency for nearly four years. We were licensed in our Brooklyn location. We also sent in an application for our Manhattan location. It was only when we reached out about an extension for the Manhattan location a year later that we found out that the application was never processed. We immediately filed the appropriate paperwork and have since been licensed by NY State.

The second issue was about our student outcomes. We present data on our website in aggregate, such as our 98.5% employment rate for graduates. The Attorney General felt a link labeled “Download our Outcomes Report” next to “98.5% employment rate” taking you to the full breakdown of jobs was not “Clear and Conspicuous”. We understand that in our efforts to be transparent, we exposed ourselves to a new level of scrutiny and we will live up to that in the future. Here’s an example from our settlement:

The NYAG finds that Flatiron’s claim that 98.5% of its graduates are employed in the software engineering field within 180 days of graduating, does not clearly and conspicuously disclose that “employed” includes not only full time salaried positions, but also paid apprentices, contract employees and self-employed/freelance employees. This information was available by clicking on the “Download Our Outcomes Report” link and entering an email address in order to download a multi-page report that contains graduation and employment rate information. The NYAG finds that labeling the link “Download Our Outcomes Report” did not sufficiently convey that it contains information relevant to the employment calculation.

We're proud of all of you and have shared your success on our website to inspire others. Ultimately, we know that the concerns of our students and community are about the truth of our outcome data. We want to restate, unequivocally, that our reports are accurate and have not been falsified. In fact, the Attorney General explicitly agreed that we can continue using all of our historical reports and you can find them on our website today.

That’s really it. We understand how it’s been easy for these important details to become lost in the public discussion around this settlement. We’re most sorry for the way this affects our community of students and alumni. Learning to code is hard enough and thinking of the distraction this causes breaks our hearts.

I encourage any alumni reading this to focus on what matters - themselves, their code, their work, and their community. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure this does not blemish your journey. We hope you still feel proud that your journey began at Flatiron School, we still feel it a privilege to have been part of your lives. We will continue teaching passionate people how to code and helping them find the jobs they love. We are excited about the future of the school.

If you have any questions about this, please do reach out. We always love to hear from our alumni.

Learn, Love, Code // <3

Avi Flombaum and Adam Enbar

Extemely shady leadership team that treats staff poorly because they think they know it all. Plus they hire a lot of the grass to work on their internal product so it further skews the job claim.

Now it's acquired by WeWork.

It upsets me that they didn't finger the person ultimately responsible for this, and single them out.

its getting real

Back in 2014, coding bootcamps were advertising rates in the 90s. See https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-job-placement-rates-at-va.... From that post, this is what the director of admissions at Fullstack Academy claims are the job placement rates of some popular bootcamps:

- Fullstack Academy: 97%

- Hack Reactor: 99%

- App Academy: 98%

- Dev Bootcamp: 90%

- Flatiron School: 98%

(He edited his post to take this down literally as I write my comment. Ie. after this article exploded on Hacker News. See the logs for proof: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-job-placement-rates-at-va.... Here is his original post: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jsek2oum4lioeja/Screen%20Shot%2020...)

The Quora post doesn't mention it, but I assume these numbers refer to job placement rate within three months. I attended Fullstack Academy back in 2014 and recall being told these numbers by Fullstack, and by all of those other bootcamps (I applied to them too). And I recall all of them referring to job placement rate within three months.

I believe there is plenty of evidence that all of this is true. There are plenty of press articles, such as http://www.businessinsider.com/4-traits-that-make-developers... corroborating it. And there are thousands of applicants and students who probably remember being told about job placement rates in the upper 90s.

Now take a look at the data from CIRR. Below I list the percentage of graduates who are hired as full time employees within 90 days of graduating:

- Fullstack Academy (New York City): 30.4%

- Hack Reactor (New York): 43.6%

See for yourself: https://cirr.org/data.

I can only conclude that back when we were all told that the numbers were in the upper 90s, we were either lied to, or intentionally mislead. Credit to them for pushing for transparency with CIRR, but shame on them for lying/intentionally misleading us all for a very, very long time.

There's other ways of manipulating the numbers too. I attended App Academy, but as an "auditing student" meaning I paid the same price and did the same work but, according to the information, I might not get a pair to program with if the classroom count was odd.

However, I'd bet a shiny nickel that auditing students aren't part of their advertised statistics. Or at least auditing students that don't make the numbers better. I "graduated" just fine and found a job at above their salary avg, so who knows if I'm part of their numbers or not.

Edit to add: Not trying to say anything bad about AA here, I really enjoyed the program and it has been money well spent. I just wanted to chime in on the topic of "9X% of students make 6 figures after graduation"

I too will chime in! I attended App Academy as well, as a fulltime student in New York a couple years ago. Between my cohort, the cohort before and the cohort after, I would say it was something like 80% of people were placed in fulltime jobs by three months. I was one of the last to be employed (we graduated in late Feb, I was finally working by the end of June). A few people had jobs before the whole 12 weeks were up. I can't say for sure about salary, but it wasn't drastically lower than advertised.

80% sounds really high. Other bootcamps seem to be in the 30-40% range within 3 months.

Also, I find it suspicious that App Academy seemingly isn't taking part in CIRR.

There is also market saturation. My brother took the GA bootcamp in 2013, I took it in 2014. The outcomes were drastically different because their hiring partners/relationships couldn't keep up with their output. When he took it, they had a speed-dating event at the end of the course where employers had already signed up to take on an intern, i.e. 100% job placement. One year later, my class had nothing more than a meet and greet. Less than half of my classmates were hired through that event. I can't imagine the outcomes are any better now.

True, but that doesn't seem like enough to explain the drop from 90s to 30s in job placement rate within 3 months.

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