Photo of Grand Circus review as a coding bootcamp

A review of Grand Circus coding bootcamp

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry mentor at Pathrise. I have helped hundreds of software engineers land their dream jobs in tech. Check out my review of Grand Circus.

What does Grand Circus do?

Grand Circus is a bootcamp that teaches web development and software engineering. They typically offer part-time and full-time courses onsite in Detroit and Grand Rapids. However, due to COVID-19, all classes are now online.

Students can choose from 3 tracks: Java, front-end, and C# .NET. Full-time bootcamps meet Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm for 12 weeks, whereas part-time courses (offered for front-end and C# .NET tracks only) meet Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6:30pm-10pm for 26 weeks. 

Before starting, all students must complete the bootcamp’s self-paced, online pre-work. Students learn how to build basic front-end websites using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. In addition, Java students learn about arrays, classes, HTML, cookies, deploying applications, integrating with APIs, and other software development practices. Those in the front-end track focus on HTML, CSS, JavaScript frameworks, Git/GitHub, Agile application development, and more. On the other hand, the C# .NET track covers C# fundamentals, SQL, object-oriented programing, algorithms, data structures, and design patterns. They also create an API, work with Microsoft Azure, and learn about other topics.

The curriculum features coding reviews, demos, lectures, code-alongs, hands-on assignments & projects, Q&A sessions, and soft skills workshops. Moreover, students receive personalized support from career coaches. They offer guidance on LinkedIn & resume building, behavioral & technical interview prep, and workshops for overcoming imposter syndrome. 

Who is Grand Circus for?

People with no coding background but who are looking to land an entry-level web dev or software engineering job can benefit from Grand Circus. The program is a good option for people looking to launch their tech careers in the Detroit metropolitan area. 

What does Grand Circus cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition for each course is $11,750.

Besides paying upfront, candidates can finance their bootcamp tuition in a few ways. They can take out low-interest, fixed-rate loans with Climb, Skills Fund, or Vemo Education to cover their tuition and living expenses. Rates and loan terms depend on an applicant’s previous credit history. Those who take out loans still need to make an $800 non-refundable deposit to secure their spot in the bootcamp.

Grand Circus guarantees $1,750 scholarships to people from underrepresented groups in tech. Veterans, women, African Americans, Chicano/Latino people, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are eligible. No additional application is required. The bootcamp also has a variety of grants and scholarships (ranging from $2,500-$5,875) for people who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 or the recent automobile industry layoffs. 

To apply to Grand Circus, candidates need to fill out 2 online applications and participate in a behavioral interview with an admissions representative. After successfully completing the interview, accepted candidates make their initial $100 deposit and begin the bootcamp’s pre-work. 

Ratings and reviews

Photo of Grand Circus review

Online reviews of Grand Circus are mixed, but skewed towards positive. 

On CourseReport, people praised the instruction, career coaches, and job seeking guidance. As one grad observed, “Instructors and career people knew their stuff, and were always willing to help, be it with a bit of code or an interview. Career people have an interest in seeing you land that position and stay in touch after everything has come to a close, offering tips, interview help and pointing you in the direction of open positions.” 

One Reddit reviewer enjoyed his time at Grand Circus and offered helpful advice for future bootcamp attendees: “you need to study outside of class a lot because they move extremely fast even during the full time program. Ask questions, volunteer your code even if you don’t know what you’re doing, work with people in your class.” To get a better sense of the bootcamp’s curriculum, another Reddit user recommended that prospective students “search GitHub for Grand Circus. You’ll find a lot of code from students.”

People on SwitchUp benefited from the curriculum, including the technical and soft skills components. According to one reviewer, “Everything from the soft skills sessions, that teach you about Agile and imposter syndrome, to the work you put in coding and meeting performance requirements each skill are essential in preparing you for the demands of the work space!”

But, other SwitchUp grads questioned the accuracy of the bootcamp’s job placement rates, with one noting, “I found most [Grand Circus alumni] were unemployed or found a job that had nothing to do with what language was taught in their bootcamp. Also, multiple students were kicked out of their bootcamp before having a chance to graduate, so the graduation rate reported in the outcome reports I saw has to be a joke.”

Alternatives to Grand Circus

Depending on your previous coding experience, Grand Circus might not be the best fit. You might consider one of the alternatives listed below instead. 

More alternatives
  • In the same vein, Codecademy is one of the most popular coding programs online. They provide free courses on many different programming languages. They also offer membership options ranging from $20 to $40 per month for more course options and greater support. Learn more about Codecademy in our review.
  • Online tech bootcamps, Skillcrush, Austin Coding Academy, Eleven Fifty Academy, and Bloc have tracks in web development as well. 
  • Likewise, women, GNC people, and trans people can check out CodeOp, which has courses in web dev, data, and product management. Or, consider Kal Academy, which works with women and underrepresented groups on software engineering, web dev, and data.
  • Udacity and Springboard are online learning platforms with courses in web development, software engineering, and more. Learn more about Udacity and Springboard by reading our program reviews. 
  • People can use online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and Simplilearn to brush up on the basics or advance their tech current skills. 
  • Similarly, SoloLearn is a useful online tool for learning programming languages from scratch. 
  • You can also check out Bubble no-code bootcamps to learn how to make products without coding. Learn more about Bubble in our review.
  • Merit America is a nonprofit that teaches tech sales and software engineering to people without college degrees.
  • Finally, edX is one of the most popular online learning platforms. They have courses from top universities like Harvard and MIT as well as big tech companies like Microsoft. Learn more about edX in our review.

How does Grand Circus compare to Pathrise?

Grand Circus is an online bootcamp, with courses for people who are interested in acquiring the necessary skills to become a web developer or software engineer from scratch. At Pathrise, job-seekers in our program should already have a background in their field of interest so that they can participate fully in our industry workshops, pair programming sessions, and 1-on-1s, which prepare students for the questions they will see in their technical interviews.  

A full service organization, Pathrise helps people land the best job possible. Our mentors, who have years of experience on both sides of the hiring table, provide 1-on-1 assistance on every component of the job search. Besides placing a great deal of emphasis on technical interview preparation, we support job-seekers on resume & portfolio building, cold emailing & reverse recruiting strategies, behavioral interview preparation, salary negotiation, and more. Fellows learn skills that can benefit them in future job searches as well. 

Our program is flexible, with only 4 hours of group sessions per week and 1-on-1 sessions that can be scheduled as needed by fellows. We personalize our curriculum to meet each fellow’s specific needs. 

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. If you are interested in working with our mentors on any aspect of the job search, including the technical and behavioral interviews, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

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Brian Wong

Brian Wong is an experienced senior software engineer and has worked at top bay area startups and organizations. In his free time, Brian works with Pathrise SWE fellows to help them land their dream job and learn insider tips on how to ace technical interviews.

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