The Emperor Has No Clothes
Humans trust colleges. This is due to tradition more than job outcomes. Search “college job placement rates” in google and you’ll find nothing of consequential value to inform you of the job placement rates of higher education institutions. That's by design. According to a recent study by the New York Fed, as cited in an article by MarketWatch, some 45% of college grads worked in a “non-college job,” which is defined as a position in which fewer than 50% of the workers in that job need a bachelor’s degree. The emperor has no clothes.
Why do we still covet college if the ROI of a $200k degree doesn’t add up? It's a habitual cycle which is further complicated by expectations and pressure of our peers, friends and family. The parent that is asked, ‘What is your daughter/son doing after college’ who answers, ‘They are going to xyz trade school for 3 months and then they’ll get a job’, tends to be looked down upon by their social circle.
The rise of immersive education models such as coding bootcamps came in response to the farce of a college degree. The promise was simple. Attend coding bootcamp xyz (there were about 5 of us in the beginning) and have a 95% ish chance of getting a job. That worked for the first year or two of our industry. Then more bootcamps entered the scene. A lot more.
According to CourseReport and SwitchUp there are over 100 coding bootcamps currently operating in the world. Some have been here from the beginning such as Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Flatiron School, Launch Academy to name a few. Others arrived shortly thereafter but most began in the last 18 months. The definitions of placement and student outcome terms became unique at almost all bootcamps. It’s confusing for students who held outcomes high in their decision making process. Some programs considered a student that graduated who was placed within 6 months to be within their placement rate. Others, like a very large behemoth we know about considered students that received an interview to be within their placement rate. It got messy and our industry was going the way of the ambiguous higher ed placement rates. We were becoming the exact institutions that we were trying to expose. Something had to change.
The Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) is the most widely accepted standard in bootcamp reporting. Over 30 bootcamps are participating.
CIRR drives a commitment to publish standardized coding bootcamp graduation and job placement data to provide a clear communication of outcomes to prospective students. CIRR is a coalition of coding bootcamps assembled to establish and implement best practices across the coding school industry nationwide.
Launch Academy is proud to announce that we have joined the CIRR coalition. Transparency is vital to build a bridge of trust in Immersive Education. Statistics are easy to make up and publish, and one bad apple in the coding bootcamp space can tarnish the perception of the entire industry. CIRR aims to mitigate this risk.
Providing students with the ability to compare their coding bootcamp options, based on transparent and accurate data, is the American way. As of today, they can do this for those programs who have taken the pledge to report student outcomes honestly, and within a standard framework. CIRR has established crystal clear outcome definition criteria which disallow members to, “fudge” their placement data. Meaning students will be able to view Launch Academy’s student outcomes and compare them to the top bootcamps that are included as members in the CIRR coalition.
The Wall Street Journal on Bootcamp Accountability
“What the bootcamp industry really needs to stand for is simplicity.” Said Dan Pickett, Co Founder of Launch Academy. “Someone looking for a bootcamp needs to be able to go in and, at a glance, have easy understanding of the results. And, I think as this develops, students are going to have a much clearer understanding of what their options are on both a local and national level.”
The new CIRR reporting format addresses serious issues that pervade most bootcamps’ student outcome placement statistics by going beyond the single variable of placement percentage so that students may fully understand the calculation. By doing so, the CIRR reporting methodology provides for a simple table in which participating bootcamps must report multiple student outcome variables for all their enrolled students, including full-time, part-time and contract employment, as well as those that go on to be entrepreneurs, and more. By breaking the placement data down in a granular fashion, the power moves from the bootcamp’s marketing teams to that of the student. It also goes beyond a single average salary statistic and gives us a format to report income brackets for graduates, as well as common job titles. The CIRR standard is different from most other reporting formats because it reports on every student who enrolled in our classes, making it completely transparent.
Joining us will be Course Report and Switch Up, two bootcamp reviewers as well as SkillsFund a student financer in the bootcamp space. This gold standard in reporting will help you make a more clear, and truth-based, decision.
Prior to CIRR, as a licensed school in the states which we operate, Launch Academy reported placement rates based on State’s Department of Education and Department of Professional Licensure requirements. In order to operate as a licensed school, we are required to comply with the unique reporting standards set by each state’s governing body. We will continue to report our outcomes on the basis of the State licensure requirements for regulatory reasons in addition to that of CIRR.
We are taking things a step further. In the coming months we’ll be publishing an independently verified jobs report. Overall you should expect a slight decrease in the percentage of in-field graduates amongst all CIRR schools. This won’t be a huge jump, but the CIRR reporting standards are more stringent and so most bootcamps participating are reporting a decrease under the new standard. This is why some bootcamps declined to participate in CIRR. One would presume that for those that did not participate, the drop in student outcome statistics would have been dramatically higher.
Many bootcamps have discontinued operations since we started running admissions for our first cohort back in the Summer of 2012. They failed for a variety of reasons, most of which centered around running a professional program. Some were started by people that had little experience building an organization and others were well funded but held the goals of their investors above that of their students. Some of those programs still exist today and new ones pop up all the time.
Our election to participate in CIRR with the intention of providing students a transparent, standardized and honest way to compare coding programs. We are confident that the programs that will fail in the future and those whose goals are not aligned with that of the students will be highlighted by their lack of participation in the new coalition.
Our intentions today remain consistent with those we had along with other founding programs of our industry back in 2012. To provide an inexpensive way for someone to learn a new, in-demand skill which will allow them to change their career to something they love. CIRR ensures this intention can continue to burn strong as our industry moves more into the mainstream.
Search ‘coding bootcamp placement rates’ soon and what you will see is CIRR. What you’ll receive in return is clear student outcomes for the coding bootcamp industry. Perhaps someday you will also see this for higher education.
If you are interested in learning more about CIRR, we recommend you check out the initiative.
Best of luck on your coding journey, we hope to see you soon.