This blog post also directly corresponds with my previous blog post on, “How to Decide on a Coding Boot Camp in 2019? 7 Reasons Why I Chose Bloc Online Web Developer Track”.
Reading that post would give a more balance perspective on how I made a decision to join Thinkful/Bloc coding bootcamp and why I decided to pivot into a self-taught option now.
If you need some tips in preparing for a coding bootcamp, starting from where you are now, then check out my other blog on “How To Prepare For Coding Bootcamp: My 18 Months Best Practices”.
Enough introduction and self-marketing, let’s get to it.
My Challenges in This Decision Making Process
Quick update: I spent $1063 for 1-2 months worth of the coding bootcamp and that helped me finish the 1st API capstone project which covered fundamental concepts from HTML to jQuery which took me 6 weeks to complete.
Phase 1 was fine. However, once I got to the 2nd Phase, things just went downhill. And I decided to
quit pivot to the self-taught developer track.
This blog post is going to talk about the challenges I faced.
Who Is This Message For?
This blog post is for people considering joining the Bloc Web Developer coding bootcamp or a similar online coding bootcamp like Bloc or Thinkful.
Moreover, this blog post is also going to helpful for students in the Bloc and Thinkful coding bootcamp who might be going through the same challenges and wonder if they should pivot also.
How Should You Use This Blog?
The blog is written as a self-qualification/introspection exercise for you to determine if attending an online coding bootcamp similar to Bloc / Thinkful would be a good fit for you BASED on whether you can accept the following challenges I described or not.
6 Reasons Why I Pivoted To Self Taught Developer Path After 6 Weeks
Hey stress sucks. I used this shoulder massage pillow to help me through it. 😉
#1 Pure Text-Based Curriculum Sucks For Learning
I remember during week 7, I had tremendous stress and anxiety attacks because the material that Bloc and Thinkful provided did not encourage learning.
Instead, it created analysis paralysis in the form of a text based curriculum. I should have backed out when I figured this out in mid-January when I first started this coding bootcamp.
Initially, I thought they were going to provide some video content that accompanied their text based curriculum. I think there was only 1 checkpoint in 1 of the modules that provided 1 video content. However, after that point, it was just an silent sea of text.
Extended over 7 weeks of time, I realized this type of curriculum style is not the best fit for my learning style.
Especially when entered phase 2 of the program which covered React, Node, Authentication, and Data Structures and Algorithms, the text based curriculum pedagogy is a terrible way to facilitate learning.
I’ve spoke to former Thinkful and Bloc students who mentioned that they also dislike the text based curriculum and thought it was not beneficial to their learning.
Some of them spent $8500 for 6 months but failed to complete it because of this reason of not finding learning value from the curriculum for the cost.
From these horror stories and my own personal experience and convictions, I’ve decided to pivot out of this bootcamp.
#2 Weekly 30 Minute Mentorship Not Enough
Weekly mentorship of 30 minutes is not enough. It’s enough to potentially tackle one problem, and, it will be rushed learning.
In next weeks blog post, I will talk about my strategies on getting a similar experience of mentorship, but with strong, designed purpose, effectiveness, and efficiency.
#3 Student Support, Live Sessions, Slack Not Helpful
Student support not helpful in fixing problems fast enough like trying to switch mentors or other administration problems.
Live sessions are only good enough to answer one question before instructor has to move on to next student. Moreover, the instructor’s brains are usually dead after they get to your questions.
And Slack channel responses are slow, where you probably already solved an issue before even getting a response back.
Look, I get it. Bloc / Thinkful are supporting 1000s of students at any given time and they are a business. Therefore, they give higher priority to students who are part of the Full Immersion class who have a higher dollar value.
However, that does not warrant them from providing a sub-par experience for their non-flagship products like the Bloc Web Developer or Full Stack Flex options.
#4 Relied on 3rd Party Resources vs Bloc Curriculum
I would say, 80-90% of the time, I look at a topic that the bootcamp curriculum would cover, skim through the text and searched for video content or Googled 3rd party resources to supplement my learning.
To the point, where I relied on this 3rd party resources more than the bootcamp curriculum. These 3rd party resources would be YouTube, Udemy, and other paid resources from Wes Bos, Tyler Mcginnis, and more. And these 3rd party resources were all video based contents.
The fact is, all the best teachers and instructors are online and they have an array of powerful learning materials for you to leverage for a much affordable, value-packed offering versus a coding bootcamp.
Another thing is, when I talked to my fellow boot campers, they themselves would send me 3rd party resources!
I found myself in a deja vu experience that was reminiscent of high school and college: students would laugh and giggle about how much a class or a professor sucks, but it was a communal joke because you needed to stay in that limited course in order to get units to graduate.
That is depressing as hell if you think about it. Look, I love education and learning, but I don’t like following things for the sake of following things because the masses are doing it, which is getting a certificate.
Think about it, there are big companies out
The shift is occurring now where the old paradigm of possessing a degree or certification to signify value and worth to employers is being replaced by demonstrating to employers that you have
#5 Cannot Finish This In 3-4 Months
This was entirely my fault (sorta). The course was not designed for 3 months, instead, its suppose to be 6-8 month part-time investing 20 hours a week.
However, the salesperson I talked to at Bloc was quite misleading and based on our conversation, I knew she did not know what she was talking about when it came to popular technologies in the market right now.
In order to make a sale, she told me that it was possible to finish within 3-4 months. What she didn’t know or didn’t bother to tell me was that Thinkful bought Bloc.
Usually, during a merger/acquisition event, things change. The Bloc curriculum changed and there a lot of modules that read “Coming Soon!”, which was extremely discouraging because it displays that Bloc/Thinkful did not have their rubber duckies in line.
In summary, because of these changes, it was hard to predict how long it took to finish this program from the original estimation during the sales call.
I realized half in (6 weeks in) that I could not complete this program even if I extended it to 16 weeks versus my original plan of 12 weeks.
Therefore, I took matters into my own hand, and decided to go the solo route and accomplish my own goals, own and enjoy my learning of becoming a developer, and basically, be responsible for my own success and overall mental well-being.
#6 Tuition Price Did Not Justify Value
A $10 course on Udemy provides more knowledge and practical value than the Thinkful text-based curriculums.
Talked to some grads who paid $8500 for full stack flex, but chose not to finish because the curriculum did not help them succeed when learning React, Node, and definitely data structures and algorithms.
For me, I was screaming and dumbfounded at the thought of paying $1063/month for the quality and value of education I was getting from this bootcamp.
When I compared it with alternative education platforms like Udemy and solopreneur developer curriculums, the Thinkful/Bloc curriculum just does not compare to the amount of value you are getting for the price.
The fear we have in all our minds is that less price equals less quality. That is not necessarily true. Usually, when you are paying more, you hope to shortcut through things you would otherwise have to do on your own: plan a curriculum, be discipline, have accountability, etc.
However, if you can rise above these self-objections on why you need to fork over more money for self-discipline, accountability, and having a mapped out plan by actually planning and executing on these things for yourself.
You will find that you are getting ripped off financially by attending a coding
Now, if Bloc/Thinkful included video content into their self-paced bootcamp options, and created independent roadmaps for full-time completion in 3-4 months and 6-8 month part-time roadmaps instead of throwing all the students with different goals into the same curriculum, then they might have a stronger chance of retaining their customers.
Right now, the
At that point, in my opinion, it’s better to go the self-taught route, produce compelling projects, and start applying and failing faster to achieve your goals.
Key Takeaways & Action Items
Taking Self-Ownership & Responsibility Of My Path To Becoming A Developer
Ultimately, for the challenges I was facing above, I decided to choose the path of a self-taught developer and take full ownership of my learning and outcomes of becoming a developer (or not)
I thought about it and decided I did not want to attribute Thinkful or Bloc for my failure or my success. In the end of the day, a coding bootcamp is just a tool, not a silver bullet to becoming a software developer.
The self-taught developer path is definitely the harder. It is effectively you clicking hard mode when playing a game, but it is definitely not impossible.
The main argument for this choice is: to take complete self-ownership and responsibility of becoming a developer.
I refuse to act in a victimized role where I bet the entire success of my career, personal development, and overall well-being on a coding bootcamp.
If you resonate with this argument, then you should consider taking the path less traveled.
Evaluate My Arguments And Make A Decision
For People Evaluating A Coding Bootcamp
As someone considering joining a coding bootcamp for the first time, you resonated with 4 out of the aforementioned 6 arguments plus my self-ownership & responsibility argument, then you disqualified yourself from attending a similar online coding boot camp like Bloc (Thinkful).
Then you should consider exploring an onsite coding boot camp as another possibility if you still wish to attend a coding bootcamp.
For People Evaluating Going The Self-Taught Path
For the readers that are in a similar boot camp like Bloc or Thinkful, who have just started the program or has went through the halfway mark and has serious doubts of their learning progress.
If you resonate with 5 out of the 6 arguments plus my self-ownership & responsibility argument, then you might want to consider going the self-taught route and finish your “bootcamp” experience.
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This blog has been inspired by these creators who specialize in inspiring other potential, prospective upcoming software developers with their content: Chris Sean, Whatsdev, Joshua Fluke, Traversy Media, Dylan Israel, Engineered Truth, freeCodeCamp.
This blog was made to serve you. Enjoy.