How to Prepare for Computer Programming Schools

Are you the right type of applicant for computer programming schools? If you're passionate about learning code and have put in the time and effort to improve on your own, chances are you'll fit right in. Other factors will come into play, particularly your ability to progress. At Hack Reactor's development bootcamp, we study the way each applicant solves  difficult problems during pre-course interviews to see if they're a good match for the advanced pace of our curriculum.

Here are a few ways to prepare for computer programming schools before you apply and take on your pre-course interview.

Research As Many Computer Programming Schools As You Can

Go online and examine all your options extensively (Quora is a great resource for coding/programming schools). Separate the low quality options from the high, and weed out any schools that don't teach skills meant for real world work.

Take note that the coding school industry is taking off, and that means there are a lot of new schools looking to make a quick buck off the tidal wave of success the more established academies are having.

We've seen and heard of computer programming schools that do no more than sit students down in a desk chair and have them watch tutorials online. That's not real learning, and it's not the immersive environment you're looking for. For the price you end up paying, you deserve real instruction from talented senior software engineers.

Hack Reactor instructor and Twitter software developer Marcus Phillips advises people make a serious investment in their coding career and not shortchange themselves.

"The cost of attending programming school relates directly to the quantity and quality of resources provided to students," says Phillips. "This includes curriculum, facilities, instruction time, instructor pedigree, pedigree of your peers, employer perception of your pedigree for having graduated, placement rate (100% for Hack Reactor), and average placement salary (over six-figures in our case)."

Don't forget to look for student reviews online to get the real scoop!

Come Prepared for The Curriculum in Focus

This seems obvious, but some students think they know a programming language quite well and then reality sets in on the first week of class. A good programming school will be able to filter these individuals out during the pre-course work and interview process, but not every school is going to be thorough or invest the time it takes to do this. This can cause a stressful two-three months.

Save yourself time and pain by studying the school's curriculum and giving yourself a refresher course before you apply.

Doug Calhoun, a Hack Reactor Co-Founder, says students should have, "A solid grasp of the fundamentals of programming in the main language used in the course (basic syntax, code structure)."

Practice for Your Programming School Interview

Answer these questions about your programming experience thus far (seriously) while looking in the mirror:

- Why do I want to become a developer?

- What have I tried so far to learn programming?

- What parts of programming do I find difficult? What parts are easy?

Hack Reactor Co-Founder Shawn Drost, who conducts tons of interviews with prospective developers, shares the many different personality factors he looks at while doing an interview.

"The five big ones are drive, warmth, effectiveness, intellect and technical chops."

Keep in mind that these interviews are just as much about personality fit as they are about skill or how smart you are.

Have a Body of Work

The developer world is taking advantage of GitHub, a collaborative web space for programmers to give and receive feedback on their code. This is a great space to post projects from your personal portfolio (if you have them).  If you don't have a GitHub account, make one today!

Review any projects you've worked on the past few years, and remind yourself of the challenges they presented, as well as what was most rewarding. You should be able to speak about your project in fairly short, succinct sentences that provide an interviewer the bulk of what they want to know.

Read more about programming bootcamp's admissions process here.