I was in Hacker School's first batch, batch. It was awesome. I was brought into the idea when my friend Dave Albert reached out to me. I met Dave through the hacker culture in NYC.
There was 6 of us in a small room, all working on things and talking about what inspired us. I had some things I was working on at home and loved the idea of working on them with a bunch of other hackers around. I don't personally like coworking spaces, but I thought the term "school" would mean something quite different, something more compatible with my goal of writing a bunch of open source.
Everyone could use their time however they wanted. The basic premise was to see what happens when you put a bunch of people, who love programming, in a room together. Do they sit there? Do they pull out SICP and get to work? What happens?
I used my time there to work on building Brubeck and I also built the demo projects most people use to learn Brubeck. I learned a ton just discussing the system with the other people there, but I learned the most when I would just listen to what other folks were thinking about. Everyone ended up building a huge amount of stuff and we improved each other's work by sharing it, picking it apart, etc.
We come to HN for a particular reason. We're looking for like-minded folks. The word "Hacker" is significant. It is a beacon for us. Hacker School knows this and takes on the challenge of being another beacon, and they do it well.
I have been a reader of PG's essays for 9 or so years and found the culture of Hacker School to reflect the same ideas. They understand the value of doing things simply because it would be neat. They know what it's like to be let down by a typical education experience. Hacker School is what they're doing about it.
I wholeheartedly recommend anyone with a passion for learning and technology to consider applying. What you learn is up to you and your passions, but Hacker School is the environment you've been looking to lose yourself in. That's why it exists!
It's a bummer that they don't do the interviews/final answers until after the first couple weeks of January.
I'd love to take a semester off and do this, but since there's no guarantee I'd get into Hacker School, I would want to have my usual classes to fall back on, and the payment for that is due the first week of January. If I did get into Hacker School, I'd rather not drop the university classes I'll already have paid for.
Maybe this summer the timing will work out better. I'm sure I could learn more in three months there than I ever would here :I
Please apply anyway, and include a note that you need an early admissions decision :) We'll do our best to get you a final answer before the first week of January (and if it turns out we can't, we'll let you know before then, too).
I love the idea of HackerSchool and would love to take part at some point in my life. The only thing that gives me pause is that I've heard the application process heavily emphasizes and selects based on github code and open source contributions vs. other accomplishments. Can anyone verify if this is or isn't the case?
Personally, I love oss and have always planned to get more involved. That's one of the primary reasons I'm interested in trying HackerSchool. But so far in my hacker career I've focused much more on achieving financial stability and freedom, which means that while I've produced a lot of interesting code across many domains and studied a decent variety of languages and technologies, the majority of my work has either been for pay or on personal projects that have (so far unsuccessfully) been aimed at least to some extent at turning a profit.
Just wondering if there would be a place for someone like me at HackerSchool, or if I'd have to spend some time beefing up my github first to be considered.
> I've produced a lot of interesting code across many domains and studied a decent variety of languages and technologies, the majority of my work has either been for pay or on personal projects that have (so far unsuccessfully) been aimed at least to some extent at turning a profit.
I would describe my pre-hackerschool self very similarly.
The important thing is that you want to spend 3 months honing your craft, that you love programming, that you can move to NYC, and that you have demonstrated that you have programmed enough to know that you can commit to doing it full time. Beyond that, it's about balancing the group, and, in all honesty, a bit of chance. There's more applicants than can be admitted, so even qualified applicants aren't necessarily admitted, not for any deliberate reason, but because resources are limited. Based on your description it sounds like it would make sense for you to apply if it's something you really want to spend 3 months of your life doing. I'm very happy to have done it.
Current student here. There's quite an even mix of backgrounds: some people came in with very little up on github, some with lots. Give it a whack -- I see no reason you'd make a poor candidate, or hurt your chances for the future by applying now.
I love Hacker School. It significantly changed the trajectory of my life. I barely didn't go, but in the end I did and as a result met some of the smartest people that were incredibly passionate about technology. Try and apply - they're incredibly warm, open people and a pleasure to talk to in any case.
Alum from the third batch here. In the hopes that I can convince someone else to apply, my story:
I applied to hacker school, on a whim, while I was working on a php app at an advertising company in Boston. I didn't think I would get in, and I hadn't made any plans to support spending three months in NY. When I got in, I decided to drop everything, and left a month later on the dot. It may have been the best decision of my life to date.
Going in, I was a programmer, but I wasn't very good. Hacker school was so transformative, so incredibly valuable that three months later I was accepting an offer at Stripe, where I am now.
The strange thing is - the value doesn't come from lectures, or workshops, or anything like that. Hacker school is valuable because it gives you the space to grow into your full potential on your own. Just having three months where I could dabble and play in the company of similarly-minded people was the best thing for me, and it's hard to overstate how much I learned.
Do it! Apply! I don't know of a better way to spend three months.
What level of programming knowledge do you prefer incoming students to have? I see a couple testimonials that mention people new to programming, but your code requests and FAQ lead me to believe that's a rare exception nowadays...
Hey there, I did Hacker School this past summer. I was one of the most beginner-level programmers in the beginning. I never opened my terminal, never heard of functional programming, and didn't even know how html and css worked. I was a noob. The only things I could do were solve project euler math problems, which was enough to know I loved programming and wanted to commit to improving. Despite my initial skill level, I found a full-time job shortly afterward as a developer.
TLDR: if you can code fizzbuzz and know you love programming, you're good enough to apply. :)
While I can't speak for the facilitators, I can tell you that the range of knowledge is varied; from people who dabble a few languages, to those who have mastered several, to those who are just starting to dip their toes. If you're genuinely interested in programming, go ahead and apply. I can say I'm certainly glad I did!
I was in the batch with dillonforrest. Like him, I was a beginner. The only code I had written was in MATLAB. I am not sure if I am a rare exception or not, but your level of programming knowledge should not deter you from applying. If you can code FizzBuzz and want to improve, you should apply!
I don't know if there is a 'pitch' concerning pausing college for a semester. I think the same thing applies as for those people (like me) who quit their programming jobs to come to hacker school:
I've learned more in the last 2 months than I have in the last year at my job. Pair programming with people who are better than you in a specific skill is an incredible way to learn. If you love programming and want to become a better programmer by spending time doing what you love with other people who are driven by the same passions, come to hacker school. You have found your space.
We might expand someday, but we're still far from perfect with only one location, and we want to stay focused on making Hacker School in New York the best it can be before expanding to more locations.
In the meantime, we've had good success with people moving to New York for Hacker School. About 20% of our past two batches have come from outside the US, and the majority of our last couple batches moved to New York for the batch.
Hi, how much trouble have non-US people had getting (US) jobs afterwards? I know you support yourselves by acting as recruiters and it seems likely that it would be really hard for people without permanent residence to get visas.
it's about promoting the program for females, to help balance the gender divide in programming. In my batch, there was no scholarship yet, and we had no females. Same for batch. batch didn't have the scholarships and they had just one female. Since starting the scholarships, the program has been just under half female, which has been extremely beneficial to hackerschool culture.
The scholarships do help fix the gender divide, and honestly, I think that's very important, for both females AND males. I don't think it's acknowledged widely enough the relationship between gender diversity and happiness in a working environment. I would be very, very surprised if scholarly research didn't reveal that all-male or mostly-male workplaces lead to unhappy males. As a CE undergrad, I had almost no female classmates. A few years out of graduation, I've come to the conclusion that having no females in my program contributed to the severe depression that I experienced as an undergrad. Part of fixing that is making it clear that we want females to be a part of our community, and part of it is actually making sure that can happen. The scholarships are a good thing, even for the guys that don't qualify. As an alum, I support the scholarships for female applicants, and can testify to the positive impact they've had on our little community.
It's not just about happiness, but also productivity, diversity of thought, ideas and working styles, having a well-rounded team, and all that jazz. Though I'm sure happiness comes into it, too.
I'm female, and half the reason I'm tempted to apply is the scholarship. I find that a little disquieting, and I can't quite put my finger on why. Unfortunately, the scholarship is not enough for me to give up my (non-programming, but in technology) day job and move across the country, so it's something of a moot point. I'd love to do Hacker School, it's definitely a direction I'd really benefit from growing in, but the sort of person to whom the scholarship makes a substantial difference in applying... let's just say not every woman falls into that category.
I pretty much left my programming job to come to HS. As i'm in the current batch, i'm entering the nob market around now. While I don't know about average salary or job placement rates, if you are a professional programmer before hacker school you'll only be a much better professional programmer after hacker school, and that means it won't be too difficult to get a job.
But Hacker School is not a job placement program. It is a place for people who love programming to come to become better at their craft. That this results in increase job opportunities afterwards is often a beneficial side effect, but not the primary motivator for people to come here.