- last updated on JAN 19, 2018 -

Okay, I’ll be honest. I didn’t think it was as hard as many people have made it out to be.

I went through why I picked Fullstack Academy here. Something I didn’t mention was that the school seems to be for the cream of the crop, since it has a pretty good reputation. Some reviews said that the application process was harder than other schools’. I didn’t want to pay all this tuition to not be challenged and develop as much as I can. A school that’s harder to get in also means higher quality students to work with and learn from.

I pretty much made the decision in summer 2017. I couldn’t really make a lot of steps towards getting ready for a bootcamp program, because I already had a lot of travel set for the summer. I decided that I would take Fullstack Academy’s bootcamp prep program in September. It cost $650, but the tuition rolls over to the immersive program if you get in. I wasn’t worried about that price, because I was determined to get into Fullstack Academy. I didn’t even apply to any other school.

Before the bootcamp prep program, I did complete Fullstack Academy’s online self-study program. It had a bunch of exercises and solutions organized by concept. I also worked through a very similar program from Hack Reactor, which didn’t have solutions. I went to a free 4-part workshop series at Hack Reactor, and that was what really first introduced me to using JavaScript. I had read the first 4-5 chapters of Eloquent JavaScript, but things didn’t really sink in until I started actually programming. The only prior experience I had with programming was a class on Python in my freshman year of college, and I got a C+ in that.

The bootcamp prep program at Fullstack Academy had in-person classes on Monday through Thursday nights for four weeks. It covered from the basics up to higher order functions and recursion. I was actually quite prepared from doing the self-study program. It seemed like half the class found it hard to keep up with curriculum, and I stayed in class almost every night to help others with the exercises. Recursion and higher order functions were pretty much new to me though, so I had to go through those on my own time. To be honest, I probably didn’t need the bootcamp prep program to get into the immersive. It was still a good experience, and I did learn quite a bit.

I wasn’t too nervous for the interview. I had heard from someone in the immersive program that he got in without actually knowing how to use recursion. He just knew the concept and that it was necessary for a particular problem. I put in my application during the last week of bootcamp prep and had my interview the day after the final class. Before going into the interview, I had to take a coding assessment. It was slightly tougher than the practice ones we took in bootcamp prep, and I think I missed one test spec or two. The interview was over Skype and started off with some questions about myself and one behavioral question. The interviewer had me work on two problems while explaining what I was doing. I was able to solve those, but the interviewer even said at the beginning that the school wants people who have the capacity to learn. The first problem involved recursion, and I didn’t know the outcome of a different scenario. The interviewer then explained to me how the call stack works. For the second problem, she walked me through a more efficient way to solve the problem. She explained big O notation, which I hadn’t really learned about. A week after the interview, I got the e-mail that I was accepted into the immersive program.

Let me just talk about Foundations quickly, since I just finished it. That’s the work Fullstack Academy gives before the immersive program begins. It spread over the course of 4 weeks, and there’s 3 checkpoints to go through. It goes through more concepts like prototype chain and execution context. I actually did the first week’s work in advance, since I applied and was accepted really early. Students are also given a small project to make a one-page site for guessing a random number, but they’re walked through the different steps. This was my first experience working with HTML and CSS. I used this knowledge a bit to work on the very site you’re on right now. All in all, I didn’t think Foundations was bad. I just started listening to the Imposter Syndrome podcast featuring past Fullstack Academy students, and most seemed to find Foundations work quite challenging. One guest actually ended up not making it through, because he didn’t get past the final checkpoint for whatever reason. Another guest said she knew someone who also got dropped. After listening to these guests talk about Foundations like this, I kind of felt like an asshole.

Anyway, the key is to practice. I’m really glad I did that self-study program before even attending the bootcamp prep program, because a lot of students seemed to be pretty lost for a good while. I was telling everyone I partnered with in bootcamp prep to do that online program, and it was completely free! I don’t know how many people from bootcamp prep made it into the immersive program, but I’d hate to find out people wasted their money on bootcamp prep. If I wasn’t set on going to Fullstack Academy, I probably wouldn’t have paid the $650 for bootcamp prep. It does help, but expect to do plenty of work outside of class if you’re completely unfamiliar. Other schools have similar prep programs, but I don’t know anything about them. I also don’t know about their application processes. If you’re going for a bootcamp, I wish you the best of luck!