Dec. 13, 2021

Lambda School and The Future of Coding Bootcamps (with Vincent Woo, Founder of CoderPad)


I decided to bring on Vincent Woo, founder of CoderPad, who also published a couple of research articles around some questionable practices at Lambda School, now known as Bloom Institute of Technology. We had a fun, candid conversation around some of the shady parts of the coding bootcamp industry and where we thought the industry was heading, but also.. what could be done to make the industry more transparent and beneficial for students as well.

Spoiler Alert: There's a chance the coding bootcamp industry will collapse within 5 years.

Host (Don Hansen):
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/donthedeveloper

Guest (Vincent Woo):
Twitter - https://twitter.com/fulligin
Vincent's Blog Post - https://www.businessinsider.com/best-coding-bootcamps-2021-11

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Transcript
Don Hansen:

Welcome back to another podcast episode where we help aspiring developers get jobs and junior developers grow. So with me today, I invited on Vincent. If you had been following a lot of the Lambda drama drama, he's probably a big result of that. I know a lot of people have kind of reached out to me and they wanted to know what I thought of your article. Um, and you, you actually, so a lot of times when we talk about coding, boot camps and stories kind of float around, there's not a lot of thorough research done there. You don't bring in fact checkers, like there's not a lot of actual journalism done. And what you've done is you've discovered. Kind of how Lambda has been misleading in the past. And you did a lot of research on it and you kind of shined a light on something that a lot of people needed to see, and that's kind of where I discovered you. So yeah, I'll kind of just let you take it away. Do you, would you like

Vincent Woo:

to introduce yourself? Yeah, sure. I'm Vincent will. Uh, I'm probably best known on the internet as the founder of coder PADD, which, I mean, I think many aspiring developers have probably seen at some point in an interview for a programming job. Wait, you were really the founder. Yeah. Oh, you didn't know I actually, no, no, I, yeah, I, I created the company known as coder PADD, uh, in about 2013. Uh, and I sold it, uh, about two years ago in about 2019, uh, incidentally. That was about when I began working on the Lambda school store for the first time, a couple years ago. So, you know, I I've been sort of coding bootcamp adjacent for a long time, like, uh, I know Jesse Farmer, one of the co-founders of dev bootcamp effectively the first coding bootcamp, and I have hired bootcamp grads at coder pad in the past. And so, you know, I, I, I have an interest in the space. Um, I think it's really interesting mode of education obviously can, you know, completely changed people's lives. And I think that's always what interested me. Uh, and a couple years ago I became interested in land school in particular. I think, you know, because of , they're very brash marketing and their executives have very big personalities and it's, they're hard to miss, you know, like they actively solicited attention and I gave it to them. Uh, so, you know, I remember the origin story of my reporting on Lambda school is effectively. I saw a really weird tweet by one of their executives, Trevor McKendrick wherein this is now deleted, but at the time he tweeted and this. Went viral on Twitter. He said, I, if you don't believe that Lambda school is a $100 billion company, you do not understand the American economy. And I just thought that was like a crazy thing to say. Like, I mean, even if he was right, like that was a really mean way to put it, you know, like he could have said Lambda, school's a really good company. And I think it'll be worth a hundred billion dollars, you know, eventually. And you know, some people don't see it yet, but I'm sure they will with time like that, you know, that's like the positive way of putting that. Yeah. But he put in this really aggressive. I thought it just so funny. It's like, like that I don't understand is why the company will be so valuable. So I think I, I retweeted that with some snarky comment. And then what I realized I, after I did that, people just started telling me things about the school that seemed crazy at the time. And that's kind of where all of this came from is like literally just goofing around on Twitter. And then, you know, it began to take calls from like, you know, a variety of different sources who wanted to tell me things. Uh, that didn't really jive with the official story of Lambda. And, you know, that was late 2019. And I first round of reporting was early 2020, and then I've just done a more thorough job recently in 2021, but it's all the same kind of thread, right. Which is like, all my reporting is like, try to get documents, try to show that there is a contradiction between what was said publicly and what is said internally forced the school to try to apply, you know, explain this difference and then just publish how they fail to explain effectively. Why did he post that tweet? Which one? The one I described, yes. Oh, I don't know. I mean, the guy's crazy I mean, that guy was like the chief of staff of Lambda school. He was basically like, I don't know. I think some guy that graduated from BYU with Austin at some point and chief of staff is not a real job. It's sort of, I mean, it's what we call men who are effectively executive assistants, but they're too proud to take that title. So. I don't know what that guy's doing now. I'm assuming pretty much nothing. Uh, I mean, most of the original executive team has quit, uh, Lambda school and purport to be working on new projects or something. But I haven't really seen anything bubble up yet. Maybe we will eventually.

Don Hansen:

So it's, it's a really interesting tweet. Um, so I've reviewed a lot of coding, boot camps. That's my brand. Right. And mm-hmm, I noticed a lot of CEOs tend to stay away from controversy. They really shy away from it and very traditional in the business sense. And mm-hmm, like really focus a lot on professional PR and there are a few programs that dig into it a little bit. They'll even get Patty on Twitter. Do you feel

Vincent Woo:

like who comes to mind? Actually? I'm curious. How do you think that's.

Don Hansen:

maybe, maybe we'll dig into it a little bit, but I actually have talked to, I really don't wanna call 'em out, but I've talked to a few CEOs. Well, I can even mention this. Like, um, there are a few CEOs that have reached out to me and they literally want me to just like rip on them. They want me to like dig into their program and, and tear it apart. Like, because what ends up happening is no matter how, like really critical my reviews are, I still bring them tons of students. And it's a really interesting perspective. And when you recognize that, like why not be controversial? Why not get that attention as long as you can handle it? You

Vincent Woo:

think there's strategic about this sort of thing? I think so. Yeah. I think Austin is for sure this other executive, I I'm less sure that that is the case. Okay. Like I don't, I think a lot of them just sort of tweet from the hip, you know, and I think they have an innate understanding of like, I, I also think that just Twitter does this to you, you know, like the tweets where. You say something weird, get more interaction. You also get more followers, even if you say something dumb. So like, I think almost even naturally, like irrespective of running a school, this just happens to people who are interested in being famous in any way, you know? And like I'm guilty of this as well. Like if you look at my tweets, they're dumb. like, I make a lot of really dumb tweets. Like I understand, uh, I understand. Well, I do

Don Hansen:

too. I have a lot of dumb tweets. Well, you know, like I told you, I was getting rid of Twitter. Um, I deleted two Twitter accounts by now. It's just not the platform for me, but, but there is a strategy, even, like you said, just being petty and stupid. And I wonder, it just feels like, like Lambda really grew. Like when we think about all these other coding boot camps that have grown over the past five years and really profited in the industry, um, it's interesting. It's really interesting that they always compare themselves. Not always, a lot of them compare themselves with Lambda. It's like, at least we're not Lambda. At least we don't have an ISA model. Like Lambda, at least we don't have a pricing model like Lambda or we oh really?

Vincent Woo:

Yeah. And I, I thought you were gonna say something completely different. I, I thought you were going to say that a lot of boot camps compare themselves to colleges more than. Um,

Don Hansen:

is it so kind of, so what a lot of coding bootcamps I see doing are they're trying to get out of this coding bootcamp branding, which has become very terrible. I feel like, you know, and we, we could dig into this more, but like the coding bootcamp industry, I feel like is coming at an end, at least over the next five years of a lot of profits, you see coding, boot camps getting bought out and you trying to like get associated with big brands or we're like, we're not a three month coding boot camp anymore. We're not gonna rush you through it. We wanna invest more time in you. So we're gonna extend this six months. We're gonna extend this a year. Mm-hmm , we're kind of a replacement for an associate's degree at least, but we're gonna be way better than that, right? Yeah.

Vincent Woo:

I mean, I think the experimentation is good at minimum to your earlier point about like boot camps comparing themselves to Lambda school. I'm not super aware of that. Uh, I'm aware of, like there have only been a couple boot camps that I'm aware of that have tried to tra for students in the wake of Lambda school, like to take advantage of the controversy to find new students. But for the most part, I found them to be most boot camps tend to be pretty quiet about at least on their official accounts about any of this controversy. Uh, and I mean, I think that was partly why I wrote my follow up piece, which is more ostensibly the point of our interview today, about how, you know, it's actually the case that a lot of larger boot camps I think are making very similar, uh, statistical misrepresentations to Lambda school. So in my recent piece, I cover specifically. I think general assembly, coding dojo, and, uh, flat iron. I take a look at just, just a few of the biggest boot camps, right? Like I just pick some names outta hats, uh, and try to see what their outcome reporting is. Cuz like big enough schools will usually have some outcome reporting that is like audited by some accounting firms and the can lie over much. They have to lie through the structure of their reporting and you see some pretty shocking stuff. You know like stuff that like in a lot of ways is as bad as lamb to school, depending on, you know what you mean by bad. But like for instance, the coding dojo or whatever is like excluding 40% of its graduates from counting towards its job placement rate like fully 40%, which seems absolutely crazy to me. Like just totally unethical. But you know, like doesn't a lot of this stuff just doesn't get reported on. I think because a lot of these camps are very quiet actually. About their own press or they're careful only to a state only positive press. And there's very few reporters who want to try to make a story out of statistical analysis. You know what I mean? Like this story in that case is like, look, this number they said is the wrong number. It's not very emotive. Like if you wanna make it emotive, you have to find like a student who's like life was ruined by it. And the that's a ton of field work. It, it takes months really. So for the most part, a lot of those stories I think go untold. That was my motivation for doing the more general boot camp story that in like informing students of some trickery that they, uh, might be facing. I dunno. Should, should I summarize what this is actually about for the podcast?

Don Hansen:

Um, in, in a second, I think I have a question. So. . Yeah. Okay. So you, we had talked a little bit about how you kind of designed the article and like it gets moderated and filtered out into this final product that you feel like is gonna have the effect that you wanted to have. Um, but you also said that it can kind of invoke a lot of emotion when you get these student stories of especially ones that you can empathize with student's life was ruined. You're like, oh my God, I can't believe like this kind of stuff happens. I just see like all the, all these success rates that they're advertising. I, this is incredible. This is, I almost can't believe it. I have to dig into it more. So have you cuz videos really powerful. Have you thought about just interviewing a few students where their life was ruined,

Vincent Woo:

I've interviewed a ton of students whose lives were sort of ruined publicly like, oh no, no. I mean almost no one would agree. Yeah. That is odd thing. Like, ah, I mean I could propo, there was a couple of students whose lives were so altered that they've been willing to do public video interview about it. And some of them have like you're aware of, uh, Pablo Vahanian. uh, I think did a very public interview on a YouTube channel about Lambda school. That was the subject actually, of some of my reporting like that. The school tried to get him to take down this video that was very striking. What was the video part? The video is like he it's like this. Like some guys interviewing him. He's asking about his time at lamb school as a student and he's giving fair answers. Like he in fact, credits the school with being like good in some respects and bad in others. And I would say he was much more balanced in interview than you would expect for a student that was wrong by the school. And, uh, he was simultaneously negotiating to terminate his ISA cuz he had like withdrawn or whatever. And he felt like he hadn't really learned much at the school or enough. Well, he felt like, I think primarily he felt that he was betrayed and when the school shortened its curriculum and removed its TA's mid mid cycle for him, he felt like a promise to him had been violated and wanted like cancellation of his ISA and the school was trying to negotiate with him. Asked him to pay $15,000 and also to take down the interview, which I thought was a really , that was a really striking thing to ask a student to do in order to be released from future debt. Um, and so that, that made it into the story, but he's one of the few, uh, we may do another, my editor's interested in doing like a profile of a particular student who I interviewed like in the next month or so, but I, I don't, I don't know, video, I think would be interesting, but they all kind of like, like over zoom, I don't know how compelling it is, you know, like maybe if we're there in the flesh. Mm,

Don Hansen:

yeah. That's fair. I think it's very compelling. I, I, I think it's,

Vincent Woo:

it's, it's just so much more work is the thing, like, we, we don't really have the resources.

Don Hansen:

I feel like when I saw some Lambda students in their Twitter accounts, they literally would create entire Twitter accounts just for months tweeting about how much they hate Lambda, every little thing they could find, uh, that was against a coding school, they would tweet about it. And it was like this huge depressing pessimistic view. And then they would also, I'm not saying Pablo specifically, but just like a lot of people that hated on Lambda, they would also have very petty tweet. With everything else, right? It wasn't just Lambda. It was a personality trait that carried over into Lambda. And I'm not saying Lambda didn't screw them over, but I think sometimes it's very easy, especially on Twitter to distinguish. I mean like your tweet, you did a lot of research, but it's hard to distinguish when someone is extremely emotional. Um, and can't really see the pros and cons of it. They can't really give advice if it's, if the program's gonna be well or is gonna be really good for a potential student. It's like, they're very, they haven't really processed that emotion quite

Vincent Woo:

yet. And so, yeah, it's hard. I mean, especially given people in the position, like may not have a lot of training in processing. Like this may be the first time in a lot of these people's lives that they feel like they've been betrayed to the extent mm-hmm that they've been betrayed. You know what I mean? And that they don't have like an emotional, like. Framework in place to be able to process that emotion to me is I agree. It's sad and also confusing for readers. Definitely like a lot of people I've seen some accounts, like who agree with me and like, yes. And to such an extreme degree that like they lose this thread, you know, like I think there is a point where like, I cut, I, I tried to not I'm petty, but only so petty, you know what I mean? uh, and there is a, like an unproductive threshold that I think some of the students cross, but I also think like, even that is data, you know what I mean? Like even that like that a human would be inspired to such extreme almost self-destructive lengths out of a sense of vengeance ease information, right? Like this doesn't happen with every school. I wonder why, you know, like, is it because. You know, recruit different types of students or is it something about the curriculum itself? I can't say. Right, but that it's happening at all, I think is sort of telling. Um, and you know, I, I met one student who had made like a whole website. I think it was, I think it was like Lambda school.site or something. And it was, I wouldn't exactly say it was deranged, but it was on like the deranged spectrum. And like, it was just like every piece of thing they wanted to throw at lamb to school. And they like basically believed themselves to be in a sort of holy war. And, you know, I really sympathized because like my motivations are not entirely dissimilar, but like I have the means and the time and with a lot of these students, it didn't like, it seemed like they were. A lot of them are upset because they were promised means, but weren't given it. And like their crusades are conducted from not exactly a place of economic security. So it is a little worrying. I feel too.

Don Hansen:

I get, I, I completely get what you're saying and I can empathize with that. And that, that even that massive amount of motion is telling. And I think where I come from, like my perspective is like you mentioned, like, you don't really hear that about other coding boot camps, but I. Like I, my, my students that reach out and I feel like, like everything that people have said about lamb, I, I think Lambda is actually, um, I do feel like, um, Lambda deserve to be called out on a lot of stuff. I really do. But I also like a lot of stuff that people are saying even about the ISAs and, um, like taken away. Uh, certain, you know, people that are actually gonna review your code and trying to automate the process in kind of some deception, cuz I, I did follow, um, Austin's the CEO, that's his name? Right? Mm-hmm followed his Twitter account for a little bit. And you know, there was some tweets that he just shouldn't have tweeted, but it's like, I've seen this from other co bootcamps. I know students that are pissed off, but they, they do sign those NDAs and they like, they kind of get trapped and a lot of people get scared. We were just talking about like legality and stuff like that. Um, when you kind of bring in an attorney or like threaten someone with an attorney that has no money already, that probably is on an ISA because they're not, you know, they don't have a lot of income to bring initially it's um, they get quiet. Right. Yeah. So I hear these stories outside of Lambda. And so when I, I see this like flood against Lambda, I'm like, this happens elsewhere. Like this I, why is the focus just on Lambda? Why are all these other students kind of being so quiet because this is more common than

Vincent Woo:

people realize. Yeah. I think it's pretty common. I think like, just with Lambda across the boundary, where there is enough outpouring that students began to feel safer about being public about their testimony. I think it may happen for other schools. I think the school needs to be a certain size one and it needs to inspire a certain emotion in its students if it's failing. And I think if the school does a good job, keeping students isolated from each other too, like then I think students have a harder time coming forward. Like lab school had one big slack. and I think that caused a lot of problems for it in some respects, because it did allow students to be in coordinating a little better to begin. I, I I've talked to a lot of students who said something to the effect of like, oh, I thought it was just me. But then like on random chance, I happened to like talk to this other guy from like a different cohort or whatever. And he was like, yeah, the same, you know, same experience. And they were like, whoa, like, and maybe it's not just me, you know? And like, if the school's actually effectively preventing that from happening, it can sort of pre silence, a lot of complaints. So you, you have seen these schools crack down on like these slack communication channels somewhat and yeah, I think it's one of the advantages of, uh, in real life too, at least for the school they have better control of at least a classroom atmosphere. You know, they can observe the mood more directly. They can sort of nip problems before they become problems. And you know, it's tough. It's tough to do online. I think. That's that's the main thing that I feel it's such a huge gap, uh, in doing purely online pedagogy that we, we know so little about it right now. Like it's such a new field of education. No, one's really solved it. That was actually the main thing that, that, uh, got me going about Latin school in the beginning Latin school you're right. Has commonalities with other boot camps, but it's also unique in two important respects. At least it was at the time, you know, uh, that it was totally online at the size that it was, was very novel at the time. And their financing scheme was very novel at the time. And I thought, how could they have solved both of these problems? So swift. With so little experimentation and so little forethought when these are like huge unsolved problems in like the literature of educational instruction. I, I just like, I just couldn't believe my eyes. And I think that skepticism led me to dig deeper. You can see it now. I mean, this position is being effectively vindicated, right? Like they're rolling back. Their ISAs like, as, I don't know if you saw like, yeah. As part of land, school's rebranding to bloom Institute, the ISA terms have become much, much worse. Like, uh, I think they'll cost you about, like, if you're successful with the ISA about three times as much, like, uh, like something like 50, 40 to $50,000. Wow. Maybe not three times. Like if it was like 17,000 before then. Yeah. Like about three let's say, and I, I suspect this will push Muslims, not to take the ISA and they're now promoting their other form of financing, which is like alone is literally alone, but they promise under certain conditions that they will forgive the loan if you don't get a job, but the conditions are somewhat strenuous. So yeah, the financing thing fell apart. And I don't know, I think they may have solved some aspects of the online pedagogy problem and like, if they have like all power to them, but like, that was a really tough thing to chew off, you know, most boot camp instruction, as far as I'm aware, like the main way that boot camp's actually work when they work is that they get students really jazzed. Like you get students really excited, excited to work hard, to put in way more hours than they would in any other form of education by like motivating them emotionally. And it's my experience that generally this requires some type of in person instruction though. Not always minimum requires an extremely skilled teacher for the medium of instruction that's been chosen. So either online or in real life, the teacher needs to be really well versed. You know, classroom management, getting people engaged. This is super hard and they also have to be a programmer, you know, so it's crazy. And that, that they had just solved this out of the gate with online. Only to me is crazy. Like with no prior, like they hadn't run after classes. It's just, we're doing this now. Ah, it's so wild, man.

Don Hansen:

I think, I think majority of coding bootcamp's trapped, the ball switched into remote and I think some genuinely tried and I think some genuinely. Saw it as an opportunity to bring in more students make more money because a lot of coding boot camps, they didn't drop their prices with remote. And like you said, there's this in person element that's super motivating. And I think that's a big reason why people join coding, boot camps and they have not solved the problem or been able to replicate it online. Yes, that's

Vincent Woo:

huge. Well, I think, I don't know. Probably some have, and some haven't, you know, it's just really hard to assess that cuz we're so early. I mean, all the only point I'm trying to make is like online bootcamp pedagogy is very new and I assume that there's huge variance teacher to teacher and that's a big part. That's a big part of what I was writing about in my second article. Right? Like that, you know, a huge part of your outcome depends on like literally just the teacher that you get and like whether you vibe with them in the right way, whether they motivate you, like all this stuff. And it's hard to know, uh, and online is just, it's a little trickier.

Don Hansen:

It is, what do you think about cuz in your article you talked about just outcomes, right? You had compared cutting boot, uh, coding boot camp stat will actually report to sir mm-hmm and that won't report to sir, you've kind of mentioned like try to avoid, uh self-proclaimed statistics on their website and try to get like some founding body to regulate that or at least like audit that. Yeah. Or,

Vincent Woo:

or at least audit them yourself, you know, like a lot of the larger ones will publish like their own design reports, but like an accounting firm has signed off on them that you can at least sort of trust that they probably haven't done, like literally made up names and said they graduated, you know, but you can, you can look for yourself to see how they manipulated those numbers and judge whether the risk is worth it.

Don Hansen:

Okay. And so for those that do report to. you were talking about it's the problem that you have is the structure in which that data's reported kind of, and there are ways that they, they can just, they can be accurate, but also misleading. Can you dive into that a little bit

Vincent Woo:

service reporting structure? I wanna say, like, I think, you know, is as far as I'm concerned, the gold standard, um, you know, a representative general assembly tried to tear down, sir, in a conversation we had about this recent article. But as far as I can assess, sir, has the most aggressive reporting requirements of any structure, which is to say the main thing that they do that I like is they, they require the school to in the first week or two of enrollment ask the student. Whether they intend a job seek or not. Right. And then they can't change that number. Like that's the percentage of students that are job seeking. Uh, and then you have to just report what percentage of those job seeking grads like, uh, jobs or not. It's very simple, but it's rigorous. It doesn't allow a lot of flexibility. Schools want flexibility to say, there's a good reason why that student's not looking for a job and therefore should not count against our numbers. Right? Like schools are highly motivated to find plausible seeming reasons to remove students from this count. And maybe some of those reasons are totally reasonable in fact, but SIRS, there's just no wiggle room. And maybe that maybe that results in an under reporting of statistics, but it's fair. Like if everyone reported in the structure, everyone would see similar levels of under reporting and it would be even, but the reality is schools are using their own reporting structures and not serves. And the reporting results. Way higher than tho, than them would be possible under the service structure. You know, like, you know, most notably general assembly reports, 99.2% of its graduates find jobs, which, you know, I hope that no one listening to this thinks that's a plausible interpretation of reality, you know, within what time span, like all time

Don Hansen:

I mean, job. So yeah. Then we get into the details. So like, oh man, with, with a lot of data, that's even reported if it's not regulated by sir, cuz you can distinguish between whether they got like a engineering job specifically or like a non-engineering job. They have some,

Vincent Woo:

they have some categories, they try to break that down a little bit, you know, but yeah, you're right. There's detail. There's, there's so many opportunities for malfeasance in this reporting and you have to trust someone to some extent, like that's true, but the category stuff, I mean, if they say tech job and. Like the accounting firm is signed off on it. I'm willing to give them a little bit of rope on that. Cuz you know, you can't, it's actually really hard to write down what is a tech job, right? Like if I asked you to write a strict definition of like a tech job that like an accounting firm could follow, I, I think we'd have to say like that actually I think is a hard problem and I'm willing to give them the credit for that. I'm just looking at really basic stuff in the piece that I'm talking really basic stuff. Like what percentage of your graduates seem to not be looking for a job? If that number is higher than 10%, something weird is going on, right? Because why do students join boot camps? You know, I think some of them join for fun, but I think that percentage tends to be less than 10%. So if you're pointing 20, 30, 40% of your graduates, aren't looking for a job or aren't compliant with career services, something's going wrong, right? Like, and this is just such a basic low level, like bump that we can smooth out before we can get into the really tricky stuff of what is a qualifying job or not. You know, I feel like the, the bar here is, is really low, like that all the big boot camps are doing a really obvious, really shitty fraud. And until students get pissed about it on Moss that start calling out these schools for them until they start seeing enrollment drop, because these numbers are the way they are. Like, it's not gonna change, you know? Well, it will change eventually when something so horrible happens that the government steps into regulate, but like that could be years away, you know, it may never happen. It's all anything's possible.

Don Hansen:

Right? Yeah. I mean, you're always gonna get regulat or regulation pushed by the state more so than I would depend on the, you know, a federal government.

Vincent Woo:

Yeah. Pushing, it seems like this, the states are the ones stepping up here. Yeah. And, you know, good, good for them. yeah.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. And so like, and some coding, boot camps will like, um, I can't even think of the name of it, but there was one program that like, would. Uh, kind of offer them this sort of paid position, and it wasn't necessarily this like secondary post education. And so they voided the regulations of the state because they weren't technically the post education that would get those regulations. And there's like really creative ways that programs, I really don't wanna give ideas, but you could figure all this out, but there are creative ways that programs will kind of bypass those regulations, even if they do exist in the state. Um, so I feel

Vincent Woo:

like, well, states come out for both the carrot and the stick, you know, like maybe if you come and get accredited in the state will subsidize like your experience somewhat, you know, like, I mean, we're never gonna get rid of every bad actor. Right. But like, I, I do think we live in this state of the world where like the 10 largest boot camps, like over half of them are doing this really obvious accounting fraud. You know, that's crazy to me. Like, I don't understand how this can be tolerated by people in the industry. And so long as this goes on, like I, I just throw my hands up at it. You know, like I wrote about one school, that's doing this, uh, detailed exactly the ways they're doing it. And then I wrote another piece about like, how everyone's basically doing the same thing. I don't know what more needs to be done. You know what I mean? Like I don't, I don't know how to achieve change here from the outside. I think it's gonna have to come from within the industry or from state regulators at this point. And I'm honestly like, really, this really pisses me off. like, this should, this is illegal. This should be illegal. Like, uh, I don't know. The piece speaks for itself. I think if you, you wanna talk about it. So,

Don Hansen:

I mean, you, you mentioned you, you really don't know what's actually gonna fix this, but what I, I have my ideas before, before I share those, what would be the, the strategy that you're leaning on? Is it getting students to be louder? Is that what it

Vincent Woo:

is? Or I actually was trying to convince boot camps to start calling each other out, like, or, or for third party, there are a bunch of lead gen sites. Now they have to compete with each other more and more there's like course report. There's like switch up. You're aware of these things, right? Mm-hmm like these guys make money per head. When they're refer students to boot camps, these are pseudo regulators in a way. Right? Like they host, they host reviews. Like if they became more rigorous about who they would or would not take as referrals, that could be forcing function. But, you know, I was telling general assembly like, look like you have an incentive, like you should, you should have denounced lamb to school. Right. And you should have changed your own policy. So that there was a clear, bright line between how you report your outcomes and how they report their outcomes. And you should simply use serves reporting structure. So right now we're in this catch 22, where all the big boot camps are cheating and none of them seemingly have an incentive to be the first to stop cheating because their numbers will look worse compared to their competitors. But if they do that contemporaneously with like a post outlining how their competitors are corrupt, I think they could get, I mean, that could help with enrollment. Maybe it's risky as a marketing play, but if you can begin like lamb to school is beginning to be associated with fraudulent. Like people become more aware of this idea. It's less clear that people understand, like the general assembly is doing the same thing. You know what I mean? But if, if you can get people to understand that intuitively via your own marketing, like there is a chance for like a more ethical bootcamp. To eat market share from the big ones by forcing them to report more truthfully, but it would take bravery on the part of a particular bootcamp operator. Well,

Don Hansen:

and that's, that's a very hard PR move to make is to denounce your competitor. And like the, the more details you go, it's like, how petty do you look as a program? Like if you can't let your quality, like the quality of your product speak for itself, when you're kind of just bashing your competitor, it just feels like it's not going to build any more trash.

Vincent Woo:

I, I agree. There's a difficulty in it, but like, let me put it this way. Like, what if you were like, I don't know what if you were like Ford and you knew that VW was lying about its diesel mile for gallon efficiency rate, right? Like, and what if you were the first to discover that? Like, what would you do? You'd inform regulators for sure. But what if there were no regulators, like how we are here? What would you do? I would say it sucks if they're both claiming you get 40 MPG, but the, the other team is lying about it. And you're not, in fact, you're spending like 10 times as much money trying to create that outcome. And they're not like you have to do something about it, right? Like your only choice is to fight or to join them, right. To stop spending on quality education, simply lie, because otherwise you're gonna get creamed, right? Because in order to have a quality education, you have to spend more money, which means you will make less money. So UN unless boot camps are willing to denounce unethical processes, we are going to end up with a universally unethical processes, right. Because who choose not to cheat will simply be killed by the competition because it's hard for students, prospective students to actually D. Whether the product speaks for itself or not. This is a fundamentally difficult problem. You can't know whether your educational experience is gonna get you a job or not. This is like fundamentally unknowable. You only have to go by like heuristic statistics that are reported by the schools. And if those are lies, then what can you do?

Don Hansen:

I, I don't think they're like, besides you and me speaking out and like giving voices to students that no longer had voices and like, it is a tricky thing. Cause we were talking about people that had such a bad experience. They don't really wanna go on video necessarily. It's hard to bring them and even like you, you gotta, you still kind of have to protect them. They're still trying to find a job. And if they just go off, that's not gonna look great for them. For current employers. Yeah, exactly. Um, and so, but I feel like, I feel like the industry in general, it's. I don't feel like there's a lot of profit to be gained. I, I feel like the scalability has never been solved with coding boot camps. Yeah. And I feel like coding boot camps are gonna start turning into different types of businesses to be able to survive. And I do genuinely feel people that haven't taken outside investment money that genuinely want to provide a quality education, the smaller coding boot camps. I think they will survive as long as they're not trying to

Vincent Woo:

skip. Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, I think I'm clinging to a vision that will die personally, when I'm talking to you about my designs for how this could get better. I think you're right. That this is naive and will never happen. I think you're right. That like probably what will happen is large bootcamps will continue to consolidate with each other and then eventually do a bunch of stupid partnerships with universities that don't really work, but they get subsidized. Right. But I don't think of that as good. You know what I mean? I'm not, I'm not happy that that's probably what's gonna happen. I'm upset. I like. Coding boot camps represented a new pedagogy. Right? Very exciting, very difficult new pedagogy that showed the world that people can learn about 10 times as fast as you think they can learn when you get the conditions just right. You know, and I think that was a really important development and it may not ever be a hundred billion company, but I think it should be. I think it, what I would like is if you are the right kind of student with the right type of aptitude, it should be easy for you to enter into a bootcamp that will train you well. And that will allow you to get a job after like, it shouldn't be hard to pick through the mess to find a good one. And it bothers me that a lot of clearly very talented student. I've been very deeply frustrated by their bootcamp experiences and that some, maybe not so talented students have been like totally financially destroyed by their bootcamp experiences like this. This is like, this is the thing. Uh, there's both like a wasted potential and like a harm done thing about this. And I, I don't know where we're gonna end up, but it makes me mad. This is why I don't wanna write about bootcamps anymore. I just get upset. that's

Don Hansen:

honestly, I've started parting from coding bootcamp reviews just a little bit, because it is like, it pisses me off too. And I, I I'm sure my viewers have seen me get emotional about some programs, but it, it doesn't make me feel good all the time. When I end that podcast episode. I remember there was this one night it's like these students had spent over $10,000 and we even talked a little bit after the episode. And like, I'm just gonna say it. Like I wanted to cry for them. I

Vincent Woo:

was like, I definitely wanted cry. After talking to students menu, you have an idea, like it's, it is like students with like, they've been, like, I talked to one student that had like. Failing kidney through lamb to school or whatever. And like, they wouldn't , they wouldn't like, uh, let him, they wouldn't give him like a homework extension or something because like, he was in like incapacitating pain for a given day. So he had to like, repeat like a whole like month long unit and like eventually just had to drop out. And I thought it was like, this it's the craziest thing I had heard in some time. And I just had to stop after that call, like for a while. Like it can be, it can be pretty rough out there, you know? And I think that's the beauty of it and the tragedy of it, right? Like the boot camps actually service a segment of the population that higher ed won't touch, you know? And I think that's beautiful actually. It's just also really fucking hard. And it, it sucks as especially like this, it's an underprivileged person to have your. Hopes raised so high and then dashed so low by just completing confidence. That fucking kills me. anyway. Yeah. I feel you, man. All this is to say, yeah, I feel you on that one.

Don Hansen:

there are real stories that I think people need to hear, like real stories like that, because you know, with the coding bootcamp, you do have students that, I guess I'll, I'll dig into this a little bit, but you have students that weren't screened out properly that weren't ready for the program. Yeah. I feel like coding bootcamps. If they focus more on their screening process, that's behavioral and technical, they could help alleviate a lot of these issues of people just not graduating on time and becoming overwhelmed with the material like that screening process. If we could push that, I think it would solve some issues. And then. coding boot camps, you know, like as a business, if you're, if you're not truly invested in the students, I mean, you have to start looking at like what things cost and you know, if a student does have to repeat a class and they weren't able to complete that section, you know, if it's a large program that has scaled, they're probably honestly probably aiming for more profit. They're not dedicating like someone actually having an individual conversation and empathizing what that person is. Yeah.

Vincent Woo:

That's such a good point. I've I've never heard anyone bring that up actually, but like, I totally agree. Like. I thought it was so weird. The Lambda school's like mastery based program works by like, Hey, you failed your unit. Do it again. Like, that's not like they didn't get it when they did it first time in the way that you got it to them. So there's something missing. It's probably not just reading the same material again and hoping that it clicks. I mean, sometimes that works, but it's brutal, right? Like it's incredibly inefficient. And ah, man, the promise of boot camps was like highly individualized attention from an instructor. Mm-hmm like a lot of feedback really quickly. The instructor notices, you're making a mistake almost before you make it right. Like that that's how it was supposed to work. And that's where it does best. And to hear that boot camps have like sort of scaled or devolved to a point where like the mastery help is repeat the unit, like is bonkers to me. Like it feels like we're talking a different language almost. And that also pisses me off. I agree that schools are beginning to realize that they need to scale back and screen a little harder like Lambda schools. Apparently having a student population, uh, in 20, 21 or 2022, I think basically Austin told me that, like they only have like a thousand students now or something, they used to have like 2000 plus and I thought, wow, that's crazy. But also like good for you in a way. Like, I think they're realizing that, uh, too many of their students are not being successful and that the harm of having that proportion be the way that it is, will damage the school in the long term. So I, you know, I'm glad that they're scaling back honestly. Um, which is to say by like screening more aggressively,

Don Hansen:

it's hard to know what the solution is, right. And it's hard as you and I, as outsiders to have a huge amount of influence. All we can do is speak up. All we can do is share stories and encourage other people to speak up. And we can point out these statistics, but like you said, it it's going to take. Some coding boot camps that are in it for the long run that have honestly, like, like you said, coding, boot camps have made education more accessible, that higher education hasn't touched. And a lot of there are coding boot camps that believe in that still mm-hmm I know there are, and it's, it's almost giving them a voice it's almost letting and encouraging them to speak up and, you know, figuring out a way in which like we can give them a voice because you know, they probably have concerns. There are reasons why they haven't spoken up yet and it's figuring those out and giving them a voice so they can speak up.

Vincent Woo:

I've heard good things about some schools and from my investigation, some schools do seem to work somewhat well at scale. Uh, I think most high profile ones probably hack reactor. Def mountain is okay in general. And I've heard good things about like touring school. They report, you know, so there definitely are schools that are seemingly doing okay out there. I've been really reluctant to like name schools that I think are good because it's such an awkward position for me. Like as a third party observer to be in, like, I can't like, I, I have no financial stake in any these outcomes. Right. I have to be as initial as possible. So like recommending a school feels really weird. I do really, again, like I hope that these schools that are operating well, I wish I would talk more about what makes 'em different. You know what I mean? Like how, how, how is a student able to discern the difference between a school that's operating well and not right? Like the schools that are operating well, the ones that are best informed on this topic that they themselves can do the best job of informing the public of why they're not a scam or things to look out for in scams. Maybe don't even name any names, but you know what I'm saying? Like, I think ethically operating schools have a duty. To make themselves better understood here and to, you know, seek to ameliorate the worst aspects of their unethical competitors. Because, you know, if they don't right, like external regulation will come in eventually and maybe blow up the space for everybody, right? Like there may be collateral damage as a result. So like people who are operating well have an incentive to figure this out, you know, and they have the most money at stake, like that's who would give a shit, right? Like the CEO hack reactor or whatever, like, you know, he's got millions of dollars of compensation on the line. Like if there's an existential threat to the industry, that's who, what I'd expect to be most ready to deal with it, you know, not like random students, not random journalists, you know, like it should be, people have something to lose.

Don Hansen:

well, and sometimes that even means just chairing your philosophy, why you even started the coding bootcamp, writing blog articles, like a lot of coding, bootcamps, aren't super knowledgeable about SEO. They kind of just write articles and they don't, you know, get back links. They don't reach out to influencers enough to like really promote their stuff. And if they did gain more traction around those articles, around their philosophy of what they think students truly need, where students get screwed over, like as a coding bootcamp, you can talk about that and what you truly believe in without throwing another program under the bus. And I think it's, they just don't wanna throw another program under the bus, but they should talk

Vincent Woo:

about it. I think they should minimum talk about it. Maximally. I think it's okay to throw one or two evil people under the bus, you know, like, it'll be good press. Like if you do it right. Do you wanna talk about some other stuff that we think students should look at? You mentioned that you might disagree with some of my recommendations. From the recent piece. I think that'd be interesting thing to talk about. We've also been going for about an hour, so maybe we should get to it.

Don Hansen:

sure. Um, how much time do you have left? Um, cause I know we're over

Vincent Woo:

about, about half hour I would say.

Don Hansen:

Okay, cool. Um, there wasn't I mean, see, talking with you more. I, I think we do agree on a lot, I think where, so you had mentioned this 40% that got excluded. Was that coding do. That was dojo. Yeah. Yeah. 40% is a lot, but I think you need to dig into the details and truly decide what is reasonable. Like what is a reasonable reason to toss out student data and what isn't, because it sounds like you're kind of just like looking at that high percentage and you haven't really empathized with, there are certain data

Vincent Woo:

they don't disclose. They don't disclose. Yeah. Like there rep refused to comment on why like, or why, what the 40% was, you know? So you can't really right. And you also to take them at their word. I would say, I mean, the methodology I adopt is like any number above 10% should be really suspect. Right. Because when, if you look at Sur reports, when they pre ask students whether there's job seeking or not, it seems like almost every school for it's that like 90 plus percent of students are job seeking when they go in, you know, mm-hmm so that, that number would become 40% when they come out. I just don't believe, you know, and don't give credence to, but like. If, if you wanna pick a number that we would say is acceptable, you know, I would say 10 and, you know, ideally like, I mean, did you meet any boot camp students that didn't join a boot bootcamp to get a job? Like they joined for some other reason? Yes. How many,

Don Hansen:

very few. Sometimes you get product managers, QA to kind of just wanna get a little bit more comfortable, but it's, I would say it's less than 1%

Vincent Woo:

easily. Yeah. That's what I mean, you know, like your own sense of what is reality here? I think like we can maybe get to 10. I feel like 10 is even being charitable, frankly. Right. But to get to 20, 30, 40 to me boggles the imagine being in a C. And like four out of every 10 students sitting next to you, like, don't want to get a job after this. Like, what does that even mean? Even two intent is too many. Like, that's why we're all here. That's why we're all paying $15,000 for like a six week course or whatever. It's not for fun. We're not going to Disneyland. This isn't vacation. We're here to make money. You know, like we get it. Like, that's how they all market themselves too. So like, it's not like boot camps are putting out ads that say like, come enrich your learning. Like it's no, it's change your life. Make a hundred thousand dollars a year and be like, you know, be what you were always meant to be. So, you know, I just like, can't accept, can't accept the number greater than 10. I get

Don Hansen:

it. I completely get it. Now. I, I guess where I disagree is you had kind of called out cutting boot camp. Tossing data based on them not meeting certain criteria, the criteria for all the ISA models and refunds has never been too much. In my opinion. I think what happens? What do you mean by that? I'm not sure. Um, you had mentioned something about like, um, uh, that part of the data, uh, that kind of leads up to that 40% or, or data that's not included in people, uh, that are, uh, reported to sir. You had mentioned that the criteria alone, I think shouldn't necessarily exclude it. You felt like the criteria was too hard for students to keep up with or just reporting career services. You mean, do you mean like

Vincent Woo:

the, the refund stuff, like how you get disqualified from career services? Like if you're not responding to texts or whatever.

Don Hansen:

Yes. That and didn't um, did you mention some about like it being excluded from the data of like, uh, uh, just, uh, follow through rates of people, getting jobs, job placement rates as well.

Vincent Woo:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is one of the categories of like, not job seeking. Like if the career services contact you like, and you don't respond in quite the right way quite fast enough, like you can be removed from the pool. Yeah, and then you no longer count against the school statistics. So

Don Hansen:

that's exactly what I'm talking about. And what I'm saying is I think that's reasonable. I think a lot of people go into these coding boot camps without first of all, coding boot camps, miss sell their services all the time. And it's like, you're gonna get, you know, a top tech job. You're gonna make a hundred thousand dollars. And a lot of people are very misled into thinking that this program is so good that it's going to get me the job. And a lot of people come into coding bootcamp with really, really bad habits, bad. Uh, just like even being able to sketch your day, pace yourself, motivate yourself, keep yourself healthy. And then they, the coding bootcamp, they're kind of forced through like, okay, I at least have a schedule, even though it's a really UN. Schedule, I'm probably not eating a full lunch. I'm probably drinking too much caffeine. And you know, then they come out of it. They had bad habits before they went in. They come out of it without bad habits. Now they don't have someone on top of them, 24 7, and they don't respond to career services. I feel like people need to spend more time before they join developing good healthy habits. And that will, yeah. I mean,

Vincent Woo:

look, and that'd be ideal, but like the school admitted that person

Don Hansen:

and they shouldn't have, and that's where the criteria for admitting should be increased. I just don't think

Vincent Woo:

like, you know, like you're right. Obviously like at some level, like it'd be better if students were better. No, no argument for me, what I don't agree with is that that should like allow the school in reporting out. You know, I think you should take that as an L. Like if you admitted a student who like didn't have the proper bearing to succeed at your school, you gotta eat that L like they gotta count. Like you gotta eat the 0.1% or whatever that, that would influence your statistics. I don't think that you should be able to remove them because they didn't have the proper bearing. You know what I mean? Because that is indistinguishable from the school is so bad that people just drop out and stop responding and invites this adverse selection problem. We can't tolerate a world where that's allowed, because it would allow bad actors to basically just burn students out. And then pretend like everyone that remained was successful, which is what I'm saying is exactly what happened. You know what I mean? Like you can, from the outside, we cannot distinguish between like, why, why do students stop responding, coding dojo? I wonder why, you know, , it seems that coding dojo seems to either. Enroll, like just disproportionately poor students who don't wanna engage or that they are themselves, a disproportionately poor school that students begin to seek to stop engaging with. Right. And like, we can't tell the difference between those two things. So long as this category is allowed for. You know, so I don't, I don't respectfully agree that we should give schools this buy. I think they should have to report that these students just simply didn't get jobs. You can report that a certain percentage of students, um, you know, eventually at a falling out with career services, if you wanna be transparent about, you know, but does

Don Hansen:

Sur org allow that, do they have a specific criteria for no,

Vincent Woo:

they have no, the Sur just assumes you'll try your best to help all your students and you get whatever number you

Don Hansen:

get, but you might still be trying as hard. And I, I don't think the fault is off. Yeah. Entirely on coding, bootcamps. I think a lot of people they fall

Vincent Woo:

off. I, I agree. But all I'm saying is you're right. There's some cases where it's clearly in students fault, you know? Absolutely. I think it, most cases, all I'm saying is we can't allow schools to claim that as an excuse because of the perverse incentives of it. I think they just have to eat that loss. If everyone eats that loss everyone's numbers will be a little lower. They might be 70 instead of 80. That's fine. Right. In fact, I think there's a better reflection of reality, right? , you know, when you tell students, like, when you tell students that like 90% of graduates get jobs and you don't really tell 'em that you've removed the 20% of students that are like really lazy or whatever, and they don't talk to career services. It's really easy for a student that might be a little lazy internally to think, oh, like the rate is night. Like everyone gets a job like this won't be that hard. You know, I think we should report the true rate as a service to students. Like if the true rate is something like 60 to 70%, that is a really different number than 80 to 90%. You know what I mean? In terms of the psychological impact of like, how guarded your lawns should you be? And should you have, if you're a student entering the school and then we actually do as students disservice by making the numbers seem better, right? Because it makes 'em less prepared for the battle that they will be expected to fight. And, you know, I agree with that. That's how I feel.

Don Hansen:

I think. I don't think the solution is to tell Cody bootcamps, they need to be more transparent. I don't think coding bootcamps, if sir.org is the golden standard. I don't think Cody bootcamps have the option to give that extra criteria and give that transparency. I feel like

Vincent Woo:

when you just, no, they don't. I mean, you can, self-publish in an addendum or something, but like your Sur report has to follow the standard, which I think is good.

Don Hansen:

I do. So what do you think about like smaller coding, boot camps taking charge of that? Do you think it's gonna put them out of business or do you think more people are gonna appreciate their

Vincent Woo:

honesty? I think smaller boot camps tend to be better and this is how they compete. Right? Like they actually do better instruction. So their numbers end up looking pretty similar actually, despite not being fraudulent, but that's a tax on them. Right. I think it's unfortunate. Yeah. Like, and you know, there's nothing to say about it. Like the it's the case that boot camps, small boot camps are competing in an unfair market right now. Right? Like the largest boot camps tend to be defrauding their students and. You know, we can't do anything about that. I mean, maybe Def defines too strong work. Maybe they're just like using misleading marketing, right? Like maybe 99.2% asterisk is okay. Maybe that's fine. Right? Like that's up to like history to judge. I don't really know, but it seems to me that smaller bootcamps are at a disadvantage, but are surviving. And I hope that that continues to be the case.

Don Hansen:

I agree with everything that you're saying I do. And I, I feel like we're, we're definitely bouncing ideas back and forth of what that solution is and who, who takes ownership. It's um, It's very hard. I hope the coding bootcamp industry, uh, doesn't continue deteriorating in trust and quality. I truly do. Mm-hmm um, I, I personally don't have the perfect solution for it. Like you said, it's not on the students to really speak up cuz they're like you said, a lot of students going through a coding bootcamp and trying to become a software engineer is already a incredibly hard process trying to manage family, trying to manage anything else in their life. Maybe a poor financial situation before they even started. And now they have this weight. It's like you're right. Students. I don't think have in general have the capacity to make the impact they need to make to get larger coding boot camps to step up. It has to be something else. And I do think it's smaller coding, boot camps kind of just like wearing it out for the next five years, letting bigger, larger coding, boot camps. Like I think it's all coming. I think a lot of these larger coding, boot camps are realizing, you know, they can't hide the statistic forever. They can't manipulate the data or mislead with presenting certain data forever. I do feel like more, this is becoming more exposed and I feel like it's just giving it. Yeah, God

Vincent Woo:

will. A few more years. Yeah. Yeah. I mean death by a thousand cuts, you know? Yeah. Like we each do our little part. I don't think there is ever going to be like one thing that is the solution. Like it will be like, this is a coalition effort, you know, I think universities have a role to play in all of this. Also, you know, like universities have the ability to crown winners too. You know, like their budgets are so much larger. They could pick a good bootcamp and make it better. You know, like the market could be overturned, not by negative regulation, but by the infusion of resources into those that are doing well. And this is, this is possible to, uh, but you know, it reminds to be seen where colleges will understand or adopt the bootcamp model. Really. I don't know.

Don Hansen:

I think I have yet to see a program get bought out by a college that hasn't had its quality lowered.

Vincent Woo:

It's tough. Yeah. It's tough. Um, and I think like, you know, I think we all probably have to accept at some level reversion to the mean is likely true. Like all boot camps, probably in the long one will eventually be average probably because what makes an educational experience exceptional or not tends to be an individual teacher and these guys retire or change jobs. You know what I mean? Like on average, the educational system is average and it's designed to be average, right? Like that's actually an achievement of scale to some extent. So, you know, I don't know, like, can you even really chase the return of a good bootcamp? Like your information's always a year out of day. So , I don't know. I think we should just, what would make me happy is if we. Ensure a minimum level of quality that we found acceptable and just said, go to town after that, like just a certain level of required reporting. That's it you're allowed to market yourself however you want. Otherwise I think even Lambda school would be allowed under this model. Like there are placement rates are pretty bad, but if they just said, you know, like, you know, 50% that's us, like, that's fine, I guess. Right? Like if we just agreed on what the minimum level of transparency and reporting that we wanted was, and then we all just did it. The market would sort out the rest. I think I have actually faith that states will get there. I think states can get, I think states can get there like California, especially I think can get there.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. Um, yeah, one, one good thing about California is the regulation that it has brought on, uh, different programs. Mm-hmm , but I think that's gonna cause businesses to up and move to states with less regulation.

Vincent Woo:

If they, if they accept students from California, they have to play by the rules. It doesn't matter where the school is. It matters where the student is. So really I heard something different. Uh, that's my impression. Alright, I could be wrong. Actually strike that from the record if I'm wrong. Okay. But that was my impression and I BP,

Don Hansen:

cause I remember talking to a CEO and he mentioned that he lived in a certain state, um, that kind of like, it didn't really have to deal with certain regulations. I know he has students from California. I know that. So

Vincent Woo:

I thought, I think you're right. I don't know why I thought that, that, uh, what am I thinking of? I don't know. I could be wrong too. I also have been told that more and more states are following the lead of the B P P E. So just by virtue of them doing it, like they have to play ball, but I thought the P P P E offers some protection to California students, regardless of whether the school is, but may not, may not be as comprehensive. Okay. Yeah, we can, whatever. okay.

Don Hansen:

All right. That's fine. Um, so I, I feel like we, we dove into, I, I don't know. I think this was an interesting conversation and I, actually, one thing I wanna empathize with is like, the more you dig into this coding bootcamp stuff, I'm glad I'm not the only one that kind of gets down at a little bit depressed on, you know, everything that I'm discovering too, because it's hard to report on this. It really is. There's very few people

Vincent Woo:

out there who are just literally going and talking to students all the time. You know what I mean? Like there's a few of you like that Dorian guy is kind of like that too, right? Yeah. He's,

Don Hansen:

he's self taught. I love that he's self taught because he really challenges coding bootcamp's because of

Vincent Woo:

that. Yeah. Like he has good. He has a credentials to be able to do it, but like I would say there's probably like under 20 people in the world that aren't employed by coding boot camps that are routinely talking to, you know, coding boot camp graduates. So, you know, I like, I definitely respect, I, I remember seeing your podcast and thinking like, whoa, this guy's like serious, you know, like that's what made me wanna talk to you actually like, you know, listeners may not know, but Don and I got a little TIFF on Twitter before we end up like actually talking to each other now. And one thing that, you know, turned me around made me serious about actually just wanting to come on the podcast was I saw that very long history talking to many students on the podcast and the only person who would do something like that is someone that actually gave a shit, you know? So, uh, I was confident that we'd have a good conversation, no matter what.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. We did. I actually had a different view of you before I, um, ended up talking with you, but, um, yeah, I I'm glad we did talk. I do. Um, I really do appreciate what you're doing. Um, I love what you're doing. I know it can get you down a little bit, but I'm glad you did. I'm glad I did, you know, reply with kind of a petty tweet and we just, you know yeah. I mean, if you hadn't, we wouldn't be it, you know? Exactly, exactly. And you know, it really does feel like so much

Vincent Woo:

of this stuff happens as a result of petty tweeting

Don Hansen:

well, absolutely. I'm not encouraging it. I'm just saying sometimes it

Vincent Woo:

does. I'm encouraging it. Yeah, I know you are. Um,

Don Hansen:

alright. So I feel like we covered everything. Um, do you, do you have any final notes or any final questions?

Vincent Woo:

Uh, Hm. Well, there's one thing that you mentioned when I talk about like, uh, and I'll try to go over quickly, like in my reporting, um, one thing I noticed, like Jesse Farmer says that like one important heuristic for assessing the quality of a perspective coding bootcamp experience is like how often you receive code review. Uh, and I think you said that you didn't necessarily agree. Uh, and if you disagree, I'd love to hear why. Cause I actually strongly agree with that statement as well. How

Don Hansen:

often you get a code review?

Vincent Woo:

Yeah. Like a real code review from like a real instructor.

Don Hansen:

The problem is a lot of these code reviews come from instructors that haven't had professional experience

Vincent Woo:

lot. That's what I mean. Yeah. Yeah. The quality of the instructor giving the code reviews really important too.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. Um, so I guess like maybe it was different how

Vincent Woo:

often and how good, I think are the two axes on which ones should evaluate like code reviews, right. Might be a little better to get good code reviews, less frequently than a bunch of like fast, bad reviews. But we're we're I guess what I was trying to say is we're at so low, like the bar is so low, you know what I mean? Like we're, we're talking about like people go through lamb school without getting any code review, you know? So like just anything that's ridiculous better than that, you know? And I think it is a good in my mind, it's a good metric to judge a school and shows how serious they are. Like if they are taking the time to give real code reviews, it's a lot of work. Like it's like grading homework is actually one of the most time consuming aspects of being a teacher. I don't think a lot of people outside teaching realize this grading homework is a huge pain in the ass code reviews are basically like, you know, grading homework on steroids. Right? Because like, you you're assessing so many things, right? Like you're, you're assessing like, uh, you know, one does the code do the right thing two, like if it doesn't do the right thing, what, like, uh, what misunderstanding does the teachers think the student has made in order to produce like the wrong code? If the code is working, but it could be better. Like in what way could it be better? And what does the student, like, what rotation of the student's mind does there need to be for them to be able to perceive the like more elegant solution or like, is the student repeating themselves unnecessary? Like, right. Like basically what I'm saying is like, while the teacher is reading the code, they have to run like a full simulation of the student's mind. And then they have to like, eject, like some assessment of where they think the student ought to improve next. This is really customized difficult labor, but it is like, that's where the rubber meets the road for like how students really learn from good teachers. You know, it's not just everyone look at the same lecture and then you get a, like, your, your code is one through five. Good. It's like, you're making this type of mistake. Like, here's my recommendation for how to approach this problem in the future. You know, you slow down, you're thinking about this type of thing, you know, like you need to like be able to step back and think about what parts of your program are repeated. Like, you know what, whatever it is. It's a labor of love to be able to deliver that to the student. And, you know, if you can find some indication in a school that a school is willing to deliver you, that labor of love, I, I think it is, uh, it's important. It's important. And if you're getting no code review, you should definitely know that before you go in, you know, like it is crazy to me that people don't know sometimes that that's what they're in for.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. I guess I don't know if I, I disagree with you. I feel like it's more than just frequency though. And you've, you've emphasized that. It's more than

Vincent Woo:

that. Yeah, for sure. But that's, that's all you can measure. You know what I mean? Like that's all you, can you, if you ask someone whether the code of views are good, they're gonna say yes. So, you know, like, all you can ask is like, okay, how often? So it's just a tool, you know, like it's, it's gonna be imper.

Don Hansen:

But, well, you can probably come up with questions about like, how they felt about themselves. Did they repeat the same mistake in the future? Did they, did they, uh, were they able to, um, I don't know, accomplish something they'd been stuck on. Sure, sure. For

Vincent Woo:

an enrolled student. Absolutely. But like, my advice is for perspective students, you know what I mean? Like who aren't in it yet and can only ask questions from the outside. You can only ask really objective questions, you know? Yeah.

Don Hansen:

I that's the difficulty quality of instructor. You have to get credentials as a person that's getting the code review. My only skepticism is there are a lot of people giving code reviews that haven't had tons of professional experience. Yeah. I think what

Vincent Woo:

you, you can definitely ask is the person who is going to be doing my code reviews. Like, are they an instructor? Who are they, you know, like tell me a little bit about the situation, right? Like you can ask a couple questions like that. And you know, I think even just beginning the conversation about code reviews is enough really to see in the beginning too, frankly. Cuz the, I think the bar is really low actually. Yeah. I

Don Hansen:

think I agree with you more than I disagree. I don't even remember saying I disagree word disappointment with

Vincent Woo:

that one. All I'm glad. I'm glad we got that one outta the way. Don. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. Yeah. This was a fun conversation. Hey, before you go, um, you wanna shout anything? I'll link a couple of your articles below, but what do you wanna shout out? Just

Vincent Woo:

link them, just link them that article. That's the one that I want students to read about, like, um, you know, the one that touches on GA coding dojo, et cetera, and has some tips about, you know, like ISAs like the coding reviews, the code review thing. We just talked about that. That's the one I, I think your audience could benefit from reading and I hope I hope they get to it. I have nothing to sell, so just, I hope they have a nice time reading it.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Well, the very least if you do read the article, you like it show it some love, but, um, yeah, Vincent, if you would just stick around just for a couple minutes, but yeah, this is a fun

Vincent Woo:

conversation. See everything we believe.