Photo of Launch School Logo

A review of Launch School as a software engineering bootcamp

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now software engineering mentor at Pathrise. I have worked with hundreds of job-seekers to optimize their job search and get results like 3x more responses to their applications, 2x higher interview scores, and 10-20% increases in compensation through negotiation alone. Check out this article to learn more about the Launch School platform, costs, and user reviews.

What does Launch School do?

Launch School is an online bootcamp that teaches the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer. Students begin by learning basic problem-solving in JavaScript or Ruby, though they can study other languages as they progress through the program. After becoming proficient in the language of their choice, they study the basics of web development, including HTTP, front-end vs. back-end, SQL, relational databases, and more. By the end, they can build libraries and frameworks, as well as use tools such as Rails, Angular, and React. 

At the Launch School, there is no set curriculum, lecture, or instruction, but the program does recommend a list of resources such as blogs, videos, and exercises to prepare students for assignments and projects. The core curriculum is self-paced and assessment-driven. Students spend 8-16 months learning the fundamentals. To move on to a new topic, students must demonstrate mastery of the previous one through written exams, 1-on-1 live coding interviews, and take-home projects. 

If students do not pass an assessment, reviewers offer detailed feedback on how they can improve before they try again. While Launch School does not provide tutoring or 1-on-1 mentorship, they do have staff TAs who offer feedback and monitor the course forums, where students can post questions when they are stuck on a coding problem. 

Once students complete the core curriculum, they can enroll in the optional capstone program. Admission is competitive and based on a student’s portfolio. This program takes 4-7 months of full-time work, or 800-1000 hours, to complete. For the first 16 weeks, students participate in 8 hours of live instruction per day Monday-Friday. Attendance is required, as lectures are not recorded. Following that, they spend 1-3 months in the job search process. To be considered for the capstone course, candidates must be willing to find a job in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, or another approved location.

Who is Launch School for?

Students with some experience with programming who are looking to develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer could benefit from the Launch School. The program is not a good fit for those who are new to programming, need a job quickly, or want some programming experience to launch their startup. Launch School requires 12-24 months of work, so students should be ready to commit a fair amount of time. Prospective students should also note that they do not provide clear learning goals, 1-on-1 mentorship, or a cohort of peers. 

What does Launch School cost? How much work is involved?

Taking the mastery-based learning core curriculum at the Launch School costs $199 per month. Before enrolling, students need to complete the free prep course or prove that they meet the prerequisites. To register, students create an account, complete the prep course, and make their initial payment via credit card.

Those who are interested in the capstone program need to complete an application. Candidates must pass every assessment in the core curriculum, submit a portfolio of previous work and writing samples (such as blogs and essays), and conduct a behavioral interview with an instructor. The current capstone fee is either an income share agreement (ISA) of 18% of a student’s first-year salary or $18,000, whichever is higher. Launch School also issues no-interest loans of up to $15,000 for participants who need it. Borrowing plans are tailored to a student’s specific needs.

Ratings and reviews

Reviews of Launch School are generally positive. CourseReport grads benefited from the mastery-based curriculum and felt like the Launch School curriculum adequately prepared them for technical interviews, with one student noting “even today, when I go for technical interviews, concepts from Launch School come to me naturally because they are imbued in my mind after so many exercises.”

On SwitchUp, another reviewer who praised the program’s pedagogical approach said that “it took me 1 year and 4 months to learn Ruby on Rails, from fundamentals to more advanced topics such as APIs.” Students and grads on a Reddit thread similarly praised the Launch School. One student reported that “I was most drawn to Launch School because of the transparency they give upfront. It isn’t quick. It requires a lot of self-discipline.”

But, a grad on a different Reddit thread said Launch School “seems to assume that I signed up because I wanted a job and not to learn and spoke to me in an unfriendly tone via their forums.” The reviewer also felt that Launch School encourages the “slow path” because “they want to stay forever” and “charge you $200 per month).” Nonetheless, the student felt that the content was “well presented.”

Alternatives to Launch School

If you decide not to enroll in Launch School, you might consider one of the alternative bootcamps or online resources available below:

  • Covalence and Galvanize offer full-time and part-time software engineering bootcamps for students looking to learn in less time. 
  • Similarly, people can also consider App Academy and Hack Reactor. Both have in-person and online course offerings for aspiring software engineers.
  • Based in Chicago, Actualize provides a full-time bootcamp that can be taken in-person or online. The online option is live, so remote students can follow along with their Chicago-based peers.
  • Those enrolled at Lamba School and Holberton School can also use an ISA to finance the tuition for their software engineering bootcamps.
  • General Assembly and Thinkful are also options for those looking to enroll in a software engineering bootcamp.
  • People who are interested in online learning platforms should check out Coursera, which offers free and low-cost college courses on a wide array of topics. 
  • Udemy, Udacity, and Springboard are also online learning tools that students can use to learn the basics or brush up on their current tech skills.

How does Launch School compare to Pathrise?

Launch School is an online bootcamp, with courses for people who are looking to develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer. Students enrolled in the capstone program receive additional assistance with the job search process, including preparation for behavioral and technical interviews, portfolio building, and resume reviews. They do not provide 1-on-1 mentorship, however.

At Pathrise, our mentors have years of experience on both sides of the hiring table and fellows receive 1-on-1 support every step of the way. We provide assistance with every component of the job search process, including resume and LinkedIn optimization, portfolio building, technical and behavioral interview prep, cold emailing and reverse recruiting strategies, and templates for negotiating salary. The Pathrise ISA is just 9% of a fellow’s first-year salary and we never require upfront payments or deposits. 

The Pathrise program is flexible, requiring only 4 hours of group sessions per week and 1-on-1 sessions with mentors that can be scheduled as needed by fellows. All of our lessons are live, as well as recorded, so fellows can review previous material and keep learning. 

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 to optimize your job search, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

Pathrise logo

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *