7 C's Review #2: How to Find the Best Coding Bootcamp for You

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: January 13th 2023

The second in our series on coding bootcamp reviews

Nucamp’s Review of Thinkful

If you’re considering a career in the tech industry, you need to learn to code.

It's important to find the right educator to help you build the technical skills needed to meet the job requirements of a software engineer.

In our Reviewing Online Coding Bootcamps blog, we described the 7 criteria to use to help with your decision: cost, commitment, curriculum, class format, community, career services, compliments & critiques.

The second school we're assessing is Thinkful.

 

What you should consider:

1) Cost:

For students who can pay the full tuition up front, Thinkful’s costs range from $4,950 for their least expensive 26-week flex programs, to $20,000 for the most expensive 16-week immersion program.

Their software engineering bootcamp is $7,800 for 26-week flex, and $17,600 for 18-week immersion.

For those who can’t pay-in-full upfront, they offer several financing options.

(Note: financing options are based on the time of the writing of this review in August 2022.)

  • A monthly interest-free payment option
  • Deferred Tuition Loan: Tuition is repaid monthly after graduation over a 3-year period, with a 10.5% interest rate.
  • Income Sharing Agreement (ISA): Once a graduate secures a job of $40,000/year or more, they pay Thinkful 15% of their gross salary for three years. The repayment cap is $28,000.
  • ISA plus Living Stipend: Thinkful loans student $1,500 a month.

This living stipend assists with food, rent, and other living expenses while attending the full-time immersion program.

Once a graduate secures a job earning at least $40,000/year, they pay Thinkful 15% of their gross pay for 4 years. The repayment cap is $40,000.

Thinkful also offers a Tuition Refund Guarantee if a graduate does not secure a job paying at least $40,000/year within 6 months of graduation.

There are strict conditions to meet for claiming a tuition refund.

Read the fine print to ensure you fully understand who is eligible for a tuition refund and under what circumstances.

2) Commitment:

Thinkful's full-time immersion bootcamps hold on-line classes with a dedicated instructor from 10:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M EST, Monday through Friday.

The weekly time commitment is 50-60 hours.

The immersion programs are designed to be completed in 5-6 months, with the accommodation of 2 make-up weeks.

Their part-time flex bootcamps are self-paced with no dedicated instructor.

Students independently follow an online curriculum.

The weekly time commitment is 20-30 hours a week.

Most of the flex programs are designed to be completed in 26 weeks.

3) Curriculum:

They offer a variety of technical bootcamps.

  • Software Engineer: Full-stack development, and agile methodologies
  • Data Science: Designing algorithms, analysis involving big data, machine learning
  • Data Analytics: Data analytic tools, skills, and programming fundamentals
  • UX/UI Design: The full design cycle: design process, design thinking, and user experience
  • Digital Marketing: Digital marking trends, campaigns, branding, content marketing
  • Technical Project Management: Product development, business processes, UX design, and data analysis
  • Some courses require a pre-req phase and a technical evaluation before students are accepted into a program.

4) Class Format:

Full-time Immersion bootcamps:

Thinkful’s programs are all online.

Their immersion programs have a 75:1 student to instructor ratio.

Immersion students attend instructor-led workshops that include review of the course material and opportunities for coding demos.

Students must be on-line during the scheduled class time. Repeated failure to attend could result in being released from the program.

Immersion is not self-paced. Students must keep up with the rest of the class.

Being 10 minutes late to class or leaving 10 minutes early is considered an absence.

Immersion students have access to teaching assistants on weekends.

Students are paired to complete some assignments together.

Video Office Hours are also available.

 

Part-time flex bootcamps:

Thinkful’s flex programs are self-paced.

Students independently follow an online curriculum which is 40% video, and 60% reading.

Have no dedicated instructor, but online “office hours” are available if needed.

Students in the flex programs watch instructor videos, complete assignments, and capstone projects.

Both full-time and part-time students have an assigned mentor who they meet with one-on-one for 45 minutes twice a week. The mentor’s role is to give technical guidance.

Programs require students to complete 1-2 capstone projects and pass 2 mock interviews which include code challenges. Failing any of these twice could result in dismissal from the program.

Grades are Pass/Fail, not numbered percentages.

The Academic Success Managers and mentors are available to assist struggling students.

5) Community:

Additional academic services available during technical bootcamp:

Slack forums & channels for student collaboration

Video office hours

Dedicated Academic Success Managers guide each student through their course completion plan, and intervene if the student falls behind, or doesn’t adhere to the policies and procedures defined by Thinkful.

Dedicated mentors who provide technical guidance.

Full-time students cannot choose their mentor, although they can request to be reassigned.

Part-time students can choose their mentor.

Personalized feedback on graded assignments.

Career coaching becomes available as students near graduation: resume writing, salary negotiation skills, build LinkedIn profiles, mock interviews etc.

6) Career Services:

Thinkful graduates have access to 20 hours of career services for 6 months after graduation.

Thinkful requires graduates to strictly follow their career search recommendations to retain access to these job placement services.

These recommendations include but are not limited to:

  • Collaborate with your career coach to create a personalized job search plan.
  • Regular check-ins with assigned career coach.
  • Track all job search activity and be prepared to review them with career coach.
  • Apply to at least 10 job positions each week.
  • Attend at least 5 networking events per month.
  • Live within reasonable commuting distance for about 30 cities in US/Canada.

7) Compliments & Critiques

Course Report Reviews:

Dom A: Course - UX/UI – flex

I had a good experience in Thinkfuls program. Be prepared to read ALOT. The amount of time you spend with your mentor is just the right balance. I do wish that you could use the TAs when you're in the self-paced program. Overall, the program should give graders more direction with how they view the student's work.

Angel A: Course - Engineering - immersion

Overall what I was taught at Thinkful got me my current role, and I learned a lot.

Pros:

  • You get a mentor who can be your saving grace
  • You learn industry best practices
  • You will walk away a better Developer going through this program

Cons:

Getting help after hours can be time-consuming because of how busy some of the Technical Assistants get and they are only allowed to help you through a messaging app, no zoom calls or phone calls which may make helping others faster

Brad R: Course - Engineering - flex

Thinkful's mentor system supplements the curriculum, and your mentor will extend your reach as a student, teaching you useful design patterns and best practices.

Most of the curriculum is text-based with not a ton of video, but I prefer that mode of learning.

Rachel V: Course - UX/UI - immersion

Grading: You cannot speak to or contact graders, so this makes it difficult to understand grading revision requests. Also, you don't get the same grader for each assignment, so you have to make sure to be explicit on what a previous grader said each time you submit a revision. I don't think the graders can see previous grading from other graders. This becomes an issue when you have a deadline to complete an assignment, but you keep getting grading revisions that run you in a circle due to the graders not communicating with each other or to you directly.

Jason: Course - Engineering Immersion

For my situation, the Income Sharing Agreement with Living Stipend was my best opportunity - the extra monthly income would help make sure my expenses were covered and I could dedicate myself to the program! It will ultimately be more expensive for me, but it was a trade-off I was willing to make to launch a new career. If you can afford to pay up front, that's the best way to do it, but know that there are plenty of financing options available.

 

Course Report's rating: Thinkful vs Nucamp:

Thinkful - 4.55 average rating from 910 reviews

Nucamp - 4.75 average rating from 1520 reviews

 

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What are income sharing agreements? Are they a good option to pay for coding bootcamps?

Income Sharing Agreements (ISA) allow students to delay paying tuition while they’re attending the school.

The student agrees to reimburse Thinkful after graduation, by paying a percentage of their gross salary (not net salary) once they secure a job above a specified amount.

These payments continue over an agreed upon number or years, or when the reimbursement reaches a cap.

Be Careful With Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) To Pay For College | Forbes.

For some students this is the only opportunity for them to attend the bootcamp, so they agree, knowing that they’ll pay well over what the tuition would have cost had they paid in full in the beginning.

As stated above, Thinkful graduates pay 15% of their gross salary once they secure a job paying at least $40,000 per year.

For Thinkful’s ISA plan, the graduate pays 15% for 3 years unless they reach the repayment cap of $28,000.

With Thinkful’s ISA plus Living Stipend plan, the graduate pays 15% of their gross salary for 4 years unless they reach the repayment cap of $40,000.

In Jason’s review above, this option worked for him. He quit his job as a truck driver and received the living stipend to cover expenses while he attended the immersion engineering bootcamp.

The additional expense was worth it for him to be able make his desired career change.

There’s been much debate over the years about whether ISAs are loans and therefore subject to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).

In September 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stated, “The ISA industry cannot pretend that core consumer protection laws do not apply to their products.”

Recent regulatory action signals a turning point for ISAs | Higher Ed Dive.

For students who don’t have the means to pay tuition up front, or to make monthly payments, ISAs may be their only option.

Before committing to and ISA, read the fine print and understand the following:

  • the percentage of your gross salary that you’ll be paying per paycheck
  • over how many years you’ll be paying it
  • the repayment cap amount

 

Key Takeaways:

Thinkful graduates give high marks for the one-on-one mentorships and the caliber of the teaching assistants.

Thinkful has strict policies and procedures for how and when to complete their bootcamps.

The job search services are thorough, intense, but inflexible.

Many reviewers commented on how the grading process for assignments is inconsistent, and students don’t have access to the grading staff.

Read the fine print before you commit to a financing plan. Make sure you fully understand how it works.

Each student is unique, so some give the curriculum high marks, while others don’t.

Some students appreciate the various financial options, while others don’t.

This is common. Different schools have different offerings, methodologies, and expectations.

Attending a coding bootcamp is a big commitment and choosing the one that best aligns with your schedule, learning style, and career goals is crucial for your success.

At Nucamp, we're committed to ensuring you have all the information to choose the best coding bootcamp for you.

The right education is crucial to achieve your career goals and get a job after a coding bootcamp.

 

Learn to Code with Nucamp.

Nucamp’s primary mission is to educate and help people successfully upskill or make a career change into the exciting and ever-changing tech industry.

Our coding bootcamps are high quality, flexible, and one of the most affordable in the industry.

We’re confident we can help you make that career shift and encourage you to compare what Nucamp's online coding bootcamps have to offer.

To learn more, please schedule a call with a Nucamp advisor.

N

Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.