With that in mind, please remember:
QualityTimeWithResident + HardWorkBuilding = HigherProbabiltyOfSuccess
QualityTimeWithResident + not(HardWorkBuilding) = LowerProbabilityOfSuccess
not(QualityTimeWithResident) + HardWorkBuilding = HigherProbabiltyOfSuccess
not(QualityTimeWithResident) + not(HardWorkBuilding) = LowerProbabiltyOfSuccess
So while very nice, QualityTimeWithResident is neither necessary nor sufficient, but HardWorkBuilding is definitely necessary.
Best wishes to those who get this opportunity. And best wishes to those who don't.
We've had a number of Ph.D.s and postdocs in various subjects including CS go through Hacker School. We would be happy to have any of our residents as Hacker Schoolers if they wanted to.
So in short: you should apply to Hacker School :)
The best tool we have to affect the demographics of Hacker School is outreach to specific groups, which we do a fair amount of via mailing lists, events, meetups, etc. I have a hunch that any demographic shifts from news like this will be more than offset by any active outreach work that we do.
I would love to vicariously live through the experience.
As to why we were living in New York, I can only answer for myself, but here you go: I grew up here (city and suburbs), most of my family still lives in the area, my friends live here, and I love the energy of the city. It feels like home.
If he wanted help/sponsorship running SF or Seattle, I'm sure he could find it, though.
I actually think Hawaii or Thailand would work -- you could get a few cheap house rentals on the big island, with minimal distractions, and do it there.
SF to Hawaii flights are $300 r/t. If it were in a place like Boulder or Utah, you might be able to get local companies/VCs to sponsor it, though.
Each Hacker School attendee needs to be the best they can be and motivated to learn more and teach others. The fact that there are no teachers and each attendee is a teacher is a wonderful model, and as such they have to be exclusive. Not everyone who could code up a FizzBuzz deserves an admit.
This is not where you go to learn common stuff, this is where you go when you're already good at coding & looking to expand further and can contribute positively to the class.
Disclaimer: I applied for the second or the third batch and got rejected promptly. Only then did I realize that I never deserved an admit.
does anyone have any advice on what specific skills/areas to work on to maybe have chance at admittance into this program next time around? i don't think i have anything worth submitting for the may 2 deadline.
Choose a single language, and focus just on that. Python (which it looks like you've already started with), is a good choice. Spend some time with books, online classes, etc, but spend ~80% of your time actually programming and not just reading. Start with small projects that take you an afternoon and gradually increase in size as you successfully complete them (some ideas: a game of hangman, a game of tic-tac-toe, a game of tic-tac-toe with artificial intelligence). Find someone you know who's a better programmer than you are, and ask him or her to review your code -- going over the code together is best. Do this repeatedly, if possible. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what all of your code is doing. Learn to debug systematically (i.e., when something doesn't work, don't just change your code randomly -- read the error message or look at the output, think about what might be wrong, form a hypothesis, and then change your code accordingly).
Most importantly: Don't give up, and have fun!
I hope this helps and I hope to see you apply sometime down the line!
EDIT: To more directly answer your question, we look for smart, friendly, intellectually curious people who enjoy programming and want to get dramatically better. We care much more about people demonstrating that they can get a good understanding of one language than a shallow understanding of lots of languages.
Nicholas' edit is true in my experience: HS cares more about your desire to become a better programmer, which is not a function of how good you are now.
sounds like i should definitely stay focused on python for now and develop some projects with that language, as opposed to reading lots of books on lots of different languages.
i've saved your post and i plan on following your advice and applying. thanks again! experienced guidance is rare and valuable as self-teacher.
Not to say books and MOOCs can't be excellent learning tools, but you're creating an either-or fallacy.
considering Hacker School is free, I find this claim pretty indefensible.
nothing beats learning hands on from a pro.
You could arrange something like hacker school in your home town too, if you wanted to recreate this.
> "...runs the Boston Python Meetup,"
> "Organizers: Ned Batchelder, Deb Nicholson, Giles Hall, Jason Michalski, Jessica McKellar"
I don't know enough about the other organizers, but I know Ned does a tremendous amount of work for the meetup group.
Thanks for the correction!
EDIT: Just updated the site.
[Disclaimer: HS alumn, from a batch before she joined.]
Is there anything I can do to make it to Hacker School this summer?
We have plans to better communicate what we're looking for in admissions and our thoughts on becoming a better programmer, which will hopefully be helpful when you apply again.
Admissions are undoubtedly one the hardest, least enjoyable, and most psychologically exhausting parts of running Hacker School. We do our best to get it right, but we have to make decisions on a relatively small amount of information (a written application and/or one or two ~15 minute interviews), and we know we sometimes get it wrong. To make matters worse, the stakes are high (it's virtually impossible to fix a bad decision), and we have to do the process hundreds of times, so even if we're right 90% of the time, we're still wrong a lot.
I recently got into programming and wanted to apply for HS but living for 3 months in NYC isn't affordable for me. I'll be applying for next year's summer batch. Till then I'll arrange money and build up my knowledge.
I mean, I'm in Hacker School this batch (which is sadly ending this week) and I live in a hostel in Bed-Stuy for $650/mo. You don't have to be rich. Certainly way cheaper than college tuition for me.
Attending hackerschool is not solely a matter of circumstance but intention. If you want something enough you'll do what you need to do in order to get it.
The service Hacker School provides is free.
That doesn't look like an arbitrary social barrier designed to exclude the many to me. MOOCs are still there, and still awesome.
Also someone did run a kickstarter to get funding for their expenses in NY, and it met the funding goal almost overnight.
Hacker School is a one of a kind experience. If you attend you will be among a group of people that will have 100% participation, no one there is unsure about what they want. You also will work with some of the smartest people in the industry through the Resident program.
($5k isn't enough to support a family, but it has been enough to make a difference for past alumni with families.)