The big idea behind coding bootcamps is that you don’t need a degree to learn how to code—or to get hired by a company like Google, for that matter.
These institutions, which purport to equip adults with a foundation to write software on the job, have eschewed traditional (and pricey) computer-science degrees in favor of hands-on experience learned in eight to 12 weeks.
So it’s intriguing that as the landscape matures, coding schools are gaining reputations akin to colleges—with the most coveted touting higher starting salaries among their grads. And like colleges, there’s now a prep program that aims to help prospective applicants get into their dream bootcamps.
App Academy today (Feb. 1) announced that it is running a bootcamp prep program, guaranteeing participants acceptance into a coding bootcamp or their money back.
The four-week prep program costs $3,000. That’s in addition to the tuition for the actual coding school they ultimately enroll in—with few guarantees they’ll land a high-paying job. On average, coding school students paid $11,852 in tuition, according to the Course Report. Most schools don’t guarantee job placement.
“This is something that helps meet the needs of 97% of those who don’t get into App Academy,” CEO Kush Patel tells Quartz. “We have a lot of confidence we can get people ready to get accepted in these name-brand bootcamps.”
He’s including App Academy when he mentions name-brand bootcamps. If participants end up getting accepted and enrolling at its immersive coding program, the $3,000 they spend on the prep program will go toward their tuition. App Academy charges a flat 18% fee for graduates who land jobs with first-year salaries of $60,000 or more. “We’re only charging tuition if this is successful, if it improves their salaries,” he adds.
Patel stresses that the prep program, which will take place two hours each weeknight in San Francisco, doesn’t go so far as to give participants skills that translate on the job. But it does provide them with the basics to get through the admissions process. Many schools require 50 to 100 hours of prep work as part of their applications.
“This is not [just] an introduction to programming class,” Patel says. “We help you put together an application.”