If you haven’t seen the letter that we cosigned, we recommend you check it out: We have the entire letter at the end of this blog post. If you have, we’d like to share the “Why” behind our support of this statement.
We believe Income Sharing Agreements (ISA) are part of the future of student funding for their education. When properly set up, ISAs have incredible benefits:
ISAs tie student success to school success. We invest in our students by providing them an education and they only contribute back financially if they are professionally successful.
ISAs help expand education to more students who may not otherwise be able to afford a post-secondary education. Since ISAs are not loans, people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to achieve success relative to their capability or drive, and not to their ability to secure a loan.
ISAs eliminate the lifetime of student debt. Because the repayment period is limited in time, after a certain number of payments have been made, the repayment ends regardless of the remaining balance.
ISAs help us set a success floor. Until students hit a minimum income threshold, no payments are due.
But, as with anything that works this well, bad actors may appear. We’re proud of what ISAs can do, but in the hands of predatory lenders, we may just end up with Private Student Loan Debt 2.0: the exact opposite of our vision.
As a part of creating this letter sent to leaders of both parties and both branches of Congress to ask something simple, and honestly respectable, of any new industry: We want regulation that protects students. With ISAs, we’ve been able to serve an incredibly diverse population, with 60% of our student body being people of color. Also, with 37% of our student body as part of the first generation in their family to attend a post-secondary school, ISAs promote upward economic mobility. ISAs, combined with our blind admission process and unique curriculum, helps us break open the stereotypical racial and economic demographics of the tech workforce: As of today, 100% of our graduates find employment opportunities in three months at an average starting salary of $108,000.
We hope this letter in Washington helps spark bipartisan cooperation and support for regulation that protects our students of today and tomorrow.
The original letter, as sent to both branches of Congress, follows:
And not only first. As of June 17st, 2019, he is also the only GitHub certified “Campus Advisor” in the entire San Francisco Bay Area:
To further our commitment to providing the best education and opportunity to our students, our staff are constantly exploring new ways to gain more knowledge, toolsets, and capability to help our students make the most of their education, and thus Guillaume’s steps to become the first GitHub Campus Advisor in the SF Bay Area.
So, to learn more about this, we sat down with Guillaume to talk about being a GitHub Campus Advisor.
How did you find out about this?
The first day at Holberton School, we ask students to create a GitHub account for all their scholarship at Holberton. By testing the user flow as part of our normal curriculum tuning, I realized that students can have advantages within GitHub if they define themselves as students. So I looked deeper on the Education program of GitHub to see how we can work with GitHub for our students and not just be a regular customer of it.
What benefit do you feel this brings to the students?
One important benefit is the classroom feature of GitHub Education. Indeed, we have only one project at Holberton for basic Git commands but nothing about “complex” git usage or GitHub collaboration features. We are starting to add additional projects entirely based on GitHub Classroom and with GitHub resources for our students. The second part is the Pack: credits to access online services: AWS, Algolia, DataDog, etc. It allows our students to explore new tools for building personal projects, which are critical to springboarding their careers..
What did you do to get qualified?
I applied, took their courses about git and submit all their challenges for becoming an advisor.
Was it a challenge, or was it fun?
Challenges were quite interesting, but to be honest, they were a little basic for me. I’ve been using git and GitHub for the last seven years. One thing I uncovered was that the way of validation was manual. Since I’m totally behind driving efficiency and automation, in the last interview with the GitHub staff, we talked about ways to improve the process I went through. They were incredibly receptive to my feedback! I’m extremely glad there are companies like GitHub and organizations like GitHub Education who are working hard to improve collaboration and workflows for software engineers; professional and student alike.
Did you feel like you improved through the process?
Mostly it was review: It was more a validation of my git knowledge and I’m pretty sure it’s what the GitHub education team wants to do. After all, when they’re looking for a campus advisor, they’re looking for someone who’s already an expert. After, I did take a look at all resources about git and GitHub – they are really awesome and will be incredible helpful for our students.
I did learn some tricks on the git modules section, but programming is about learning something new every day!
What’s your vision for the future? Are there any more speciality certifications you’re looking at pursuing?
For me and my team, yes. We’re always looking at ways we can gather more knowledge to both improve the technical tools of Holberton and the technical skills of our students. But with GitHub, I would like to have some students, like our teacher assistants, to pursue Campus Expert certification. It’s something I feel would be extremely valuable to the TAs and the student body as a whole.
To learn more about becoming a GitHub campus advisor and what they bring to the student experience, click here!
We’re proud to announce that Holberton School New Haven, one of our US campuses based in Connecticut, has just been recognized by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as “Murphy’s Innovator of the Month.”
In partnership with District Innovation and Venture Center (DIVC), a Connecticut based non-profit, we opened up our first remote US campus in New Haven. This campus addresses the shortage of qualified and diverse tech talent in Connecticut. Currently there are over 2,500 open software engineering jobs in the state, but in 2016 CT-based institutions only graduated around 430 students with Computer Science degrees. The training provided by Holberton helps to close this talent gap, and we are looking forward to our program’s graduates being a core part of Connecticut’s plan for future economic development.
This recognition validates that the hard work of our students and staff is making waves and inroads, while bringing economic growth and change to the local communities Holberton is a part of.
To read the full press release from Senator Murphy’s office, please click here.
A brand goes deeper than a logo and a color. Deeper than a catchy mission statement. Our brand is the promise we make to our students, to our partners, and to ourselves. Today, we invite you to Define Your Future.
Today, Holberton is launching our new brand identity and our new website; both developed to more closely align with who we are. We are a school that helps our students achieve their dream career in tech. We are an economic growth engine that helps partners, governments and countries develop their own local Silicon Valley workforce. We are opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or background. Our system, method, and scalability helps everyone we serve in defining their future.
At Holberton, our purpose is to create the best outcomes possible for our students regardless of where they come from or what means they have. We define our success by the success of those we serve; the very model for our school depends on us helping our students achieve lifelong and meaningful changes to their careers. Our new brand identity, with how critical our students are to our shared success, put our students and alum at the very center of how we express ourselves.
With our new brand and website, there are no models or actors: Every person shown on our site is student, alum, or staff. The environment they were photographed in is our San Francisco campus. The outcomes we promote on our new site are real results. As we invite everyone to Define Your Future, we want our current students, future students, and future partners to know that our results are making real and positive impacts in lives around the world.
Special recognition for extraordinary contributions to our new brand:
Brand identity development
Amandine Aman, Director of Marketing at Holberton School
Jannis Seymens, Marketing Manager at Holberton School
Agency: Savagecorp, with special thanks to Brett Mascavage and John Yi
Website Development and Testing
Guillaume Salva, CTO at Holberton School
Kiren Srinivasan, Software Engineer at Holberton School
Modelling & Photography
Aaron Smith, editorial and advertising photographer The Holberton School student body, models
So, serious question: Just how do you rapidly and accurately check over 10 million lines of code, submitted from students around the world, each and every week? On top of that, lets students know that they have made an error to fix before final submission, but does so in a way that helps the students learn and without giving the answer away?
For us, the answer is simple: Please meet Checker, our automated, scalable, accurate, and slightly devious testing tool, developed under the watchful eye of our CTO, Guillaume Salva.
Oh, and before we get too far, and in case you didn’t do the math, Checker analyzes, tracks, and scores over half a billion lines of code a year. If we were to print out that code to A4 paper then stack it up, we’d have a pile about 820m tall. Or, roughly, 3 Transamerica Pyramids stacked on top of each other.
Who is Guillaume Salva?
Let’s pause and think a little bit: What kind of person would be best suited for developing the technological front-end and back-end at school that’s dedicated to upsetting the status quo of tech education? If you’re picturing a six foot tall, long-haired half-coder-half-professional-chef with a cryptic sense of humor, then you’re correct. While Guillaume hails from France (“From Normandy, born and raised with cream and butter; Viking style” is a response you might get from him), he currently resides in San Francisco, CA, and it’s here that he became one of the original tech employees for Holberton School. “Why not?”, was Guillaume’s response when asked why he started working for Holberton School, “It’s the only place where I could have a direct, personal impact with people and help them change their lives.”
And it was here at Holberton that he ran into a very specific requirement: How could we scale and automate the correction of all of our projects in all of the languages we teach, while also allowing for student testing of code before project deadlines? And thus, Checker was born.
Checker: The code that checks code
The Holberton community and student body is a collection of seriously dedicated people who are, in just a short period of time, mastering the skills that will land them their dream career. Through our peer learning and project-based curriculum, they’re expected to not only learn and master the fundamentals of programming, but also the fundamentals of self-driven learning. And with a first “year” that completes in just nine months, at the end of which students are expected to develop and launch a wholly working software product, rapid and consistent feedback is critical.
Enter Checker. This platform allows students to submit their code for review, and through our proprietary software’s well-programmed magic, will check the students work, and alert them to any errors that may exist. And Checker is thorough. Not only does it check for proper functioning of code created by students, but it can check for dozens of other critical supporting elements like proper code documentation, code styling, code efficiency, and more.
Now, what happens if Checker detects an error? Well, it would be too simple for our program to tell the students what the exact error is: We’re training programmers and developers, and for these professions, you have to learn how to find and fix the errors on your own. If students submit their code before the deadline, they will be alerted with how many detected errors they have in their code. From there, with our students working hard to get the highest score possible, they will be expected to review and find those errors by looking at the instructions of the assignment, looking for errors in their code, and other troubleshooting steps.
In this sense, it’s good to think of Checker like that awesome teacher or professor that never gave the answers away on the test, but helped give you the tools to find out the solution on your own.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at this scenario: Two students, running the same project, where they each get different errors. One student gets errors on Check 1 and Check 2, and the other gets errors on Check 3 and Check 4. Our students are smart; they know this, and we know this. So, if things were easy at Holberton, they could just huddle together, compare their code, find the errors by comparing their work, then both submitting for a perfect score. But, at Holberton, we’re not training people to be good at gaming the system: We’re teaching them how to program and solve problems.
So, in Checker, each individual student’s Check results are randomized. Two students who share the same error number in Checker are unlikely to have the same problem with their code. The students will still benefit from group code review sessions, but they can’t just treat their projects as comparison tests. They have to develop the skills they will use for the rest of their career as programmers, find the error in their code, and fix it. They can also coordinate with their cohort to help others who are running into roadblocks, but they can’t just copy their work off each other and breeze through our curriculum. After all, our students didn’t come to Holberton to learn what they could learn at any other school; they came to Holberton to challenge themselves and learn how to truly develop the skills that will help them with their dream career.
In the end, if there are standing Checker errors even after deadline submission, students are given the specific Checker alerts that matched their caught errors. This feedback is so they can learn and prepare for the next lesson, but until they complete the project, they will have to figure out the issue with nothing more than an alert that there’s a wrong answer.
Through Checker, our students are getting real-world training they need. Checker gives us the ability to automatically scale and support more students around the world, to reduce human error and oversight issues, and to help our students develop skills that they would not find at any other school. And when you’re chatting with a Holberton graduate, whether they’re someone you’re meeting at a conference, a coworker, or someone who you’re interviewing, make sure to ask them about their favorite Checker experience; the one where they worked the hardest to get that Check 0 (aka, no errors). While you might get a thousand-yard stare, you’ll definitely get a story full of trials, tribulations, and a fantastic coding success.
Checker and Holberton School
Checker, at its core, sums up Holberton School quite well. It’s a homegrown tool, built to address a problem, designed to give its users a qualitative real-world learning experience, and does so with efficiency and scalability in mind. Checker pressures students to check their own work, by themselves and in a group, without the ability to copy-paste someone else’s work to get the solution. It prompts the students to solve their own problems, and if they can’t get a perfect score on the assignment, it still gives them feedback to help them grow more. And with Holberton students ending up with great careers in some of the best tech companies around, we’d say it’s working pretty well.
Holberton’s efforts were recently recognized at the CloudNow Top Women Entrepreneurs in Cloud Innovation Awards hosted at the Facebook campus. The non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing and converging technologies that is supported by Facebook, Google, and Intel.
CloudNow’s STEM scholarship was generously awarded to 9 of our students to assist with their living expenses while studying at our San Francisco campus. Previous scholarship recipients at Holberton School went on to work at Change.org, Apple, Pinterest, Doctor on Demand and more.
The CloudNOW STEM scholarship program doubled its support this year, awarding 50 percent more individuals with opportunities to pursue an education as a software engineer. We here at Holberton School are grateful for CloudNOW’s ongoing and increasing commitment to improving opportunities and diversity in STEM.
Facebook COO and women’s advocate Sheryl Sandberg also attended to recognize the mission of Holberton School to get more women in tech and congratulate the Holberton students who received scholarships. Sheryl emphasized the fact that diversity is not only a social imperative, but that diversity and fair gender representation has broad, positive economic benefits for any business that embraces it.
Holberton School’s mission and commitment to developing and encouraging a more gender-representative world of tech has received praise from leaders in the equality space like Priyanka Chopra and Melinda Gates. These work of these luminaries, along with the support of organizations like CloudNOW, helps Holberton School to increase female participation in tech and STEM.
“We applaud the achievements of our winners, and thank them for blazing trails for diversity, inclusion and entrepreneurship. We also honor our STEM scholarship recipients as we work together to support the next generation of tech leaders.”–Jocelyn DeGance Graham.
Please join me in congratulating the CloudNow scholarship recipients, and stay tuned for these future innovators to make waves in STEM and tech!
We are pleased to announce our latest campus in a location very near and dear to our hearts. Our connection with the new campus runs deep, show’s Holberton’s approach to a Blue Ocean development of technical education, and a new student body that we know is adept to taking on new challenges with a true “dive right in” mentality.
Introducing, Holberton School Atlantis!
We believe our next class of Hippokampoiers (“Seahorses” in French, and our school’s mascot) will be ready to dive deep and withstand the pressure of our accelerated program. Located approximately 150m underwater off the coast of Florida, our new campus will feature lots of tropical weather in an environment designed to foster cooperation and teamwork. Combined with our peer-learning based curriculum, we expect this next class to cooperate as well as sea otters holding hands
Our new campus provides many unique benefits to our students in Atlantis: The ability to get a top-tier technical education that supports long-term skill development, through our ISA students will be able to start their education with $0 upfront tuition to start, and our new campus’ integration into nature will provide incredible health and stress relief benefits:
“We’re proud to be partnering with Holberton School. We believe their approach to fostering student growth through collaboration and peer learning will help our students come together in a pod that will help Atlantis become the next hub for tech, despite what salt water does to electronics” – Marlin Lineman, Mayor of Atlantis
With this announcement, we’re looking forward to welcoming our next cohort this June around the world and under the sea. And through our education, we hope to help people prepare for their dream career in a tech bubble that will never burst.
Holberton School is a software engineering school started in San Francisco that adopts a project-based education model focusing on peer learning. With a physical campus, but no teachers, students follow a rigorously structured program for two years. The program trains them to adapt to new technologies by “learning how to learn” and prepares them for the workforce by focusing on collaboration and teamwork. Holberton’s mission is not only to train the best software engineers of their generation, but also to make its program widely accessible.
As CFO, Holberton’s concept of “no upfront tuition” is particularly important to me. In lieu of paying tuition, graduates of Holberton are only required to make payments if, and when, they obtain a high-paying job. Then, and only then, do they contribute a percentage of their salaries back to the school for a fixed term of 42 months. This kind of agreement—called an Income Share Agreement, or “ISA” for short—is growing in popularity within the education space. Holberton didn’t invent the ISA, but it is one of the pioneers in democratizing this kind of education payment plan. What is most exciting about ISAs is that they align the school’s success with its students: if our students don’t get anything from the education we provide, then neither do we. To be clear, the Holberton ISA is not debt, has no principal balance and no interest. Students only make payments if their annual salary is at least $40,000, and they do not accrue interest nor have any obligation of payment if they’re unemployed or earning less than the threshold. To date, recent graduates of Holberton have received software engineer internships and full time jobs with starting salaries averaging $92,000 per year, with full-time employees earning on average $105,000 per year.
Today, we break another barrier.
Edly, an online marketplace connecting income share agreement investors with top schools, is announcing today that Holberton will be the first to list and trade on its exchange. With a first inaugural trade of $2 million, this new marketplace will open doors to prospective investors that want to do good while doing well. Until now, we have been tied to our venture capital fundraising efforts to fully underwrite the tuition costs, limiting how fast we can expand and how many students we can welcome through our doors. With the new platform, we can make use of this new asset class and leverage it to receive an advance on student contributions. This funding will help us cover our costs, grow our campus, and expand our impact while keeping our mission front and center. Holberton’s success will continue to be tied to its students’. With Edly’s marketplace, ISAs are becoming a more sustainable and viable tool ready for mass adoption.
We are now accepting applications for the cohorts beginning June 10, 2019. Students and parents who want to learn more about the program are encouraged to visit http://www.holbertonschool.com/education for additional information, eligibility requirements and a tool comparing deferred tuition agreements with other financial aid options that may be available to students.
To inspire millions, it takes a rare combination of ability, timing, and vision. This, the human endeavor, has led to putting a human on the moon. Exploring the very limits of our universe. And, to make this:
As part of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate both the historical innovators who made modern technology possible (We’re looking at you, Betty Holberton), and the women of today who are making a bit of modern history themselves. This week, we’re celebrating the work of none other than the Internet’s very own “Queen of Shitty Robots”, Simone Giertz.
Simone’s path to her being an international technological inspiration may not have followed the most traditional path: As a college dropout, she discovered her love of madcap engineering while interacting with local open-source hardware enthusiasts during her time at Hyper Island. Immersing herself with other creators, she embraced the “Learning by doing” mentality by jumping straight in with almost no prior robotics knowledge. Using her enthusiasm with a liberal amount of Googling, she taught herself from the ground-up how to build and program her first robots. In fact, while attempting to launch a children’s TV show in Sweden, she developed her Toothbrush Machine: a helmet that, at best, assaulted one’s face with a plastic toothbrush. While unfortunately the show was never picked up, her career as an innovator in horrible machines took off after she uploaded her creation to YouTube for all to see:
Simone combines a natural inquisitiveness, deadpan delivery, and desire to embrace the ridiculous was just what the internet needed. Rapidly what started off as her sharing the results of her tinkering with technology ended up with her headlining Reddit’s /r/all (often from posts in the aptly-named shittyrobots subreddit), being featured on shows like The Ellen Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and even one of the most enjoyable TED Talks in years.
Seriously, take a 12 minute pause break and watch her TED talk “Why You Should Make Useless Things” right now:
Not content to just make videos about machines that possibly only make your morning worse, she also documents her process for all of us to learn from, which are equal parts inspiring and amusing. This unique approach to curiosity and building whatever comes from it has led to joy, awkward laughter, and a newfound appreciation of tech among millions of fans across the internet.
Of course, beyond machines that assault with soup, she’s also launched a successfully backed Kickstarter to build The Everyday Calendar: A handsome device that helps everyone build good habits and get the grown up version of the Gold Star every day they achieve their personal, reasonable goal.
Simone’s path followed what we believe in most: The best way to develop new life skills is to jump in, learn with your peers, and to practically apply your learning throughout your self-driven education. And, most important of all, to never stop creating.
Recently, Simone announced that Brian, her brain tumor which she had previously sent on a vacation to Antarctica, has started to grow again. To this, we here at Holberton would like to say we’re rooting for you to successfully evict Brian for good, and that your videos, your enthusiasm for tech, and the very not-OSHA compliant robots that you bring into this world delight everyone here; student and staff alike.
For Women’s History Month, we’d like to start with a huge Happy Birthday to the one and only Frances Elizabeth “Betty” Holberton, our namesake here at Holberton School and one of the first innovators in computer programming. As one of the six programmers who worked on ENIAC, the one of the first programmable, general purpose computers, she was literally at the forefront of computer programming, and continued to innovate throughout her entire professional career.
And being among the first, there were no teachers and she didn’t learn her trade by sitting in a classroom listening to lectures, but by diving in. She learning by observing and directly working with these early computer computational machines, and her innovations built the very framework of modern computing. This hands-on approach to learning by doing is what we try to embody today as we help train the next generation of tech leaders and innovators.
Betty Holberton entered software programming at the very beginning, and her inspiration as a tech pioneer continues today. In celebration of Women’s History Month and Betty Holberton’s birthday, we wanted to highlight why including more women in technology is a great thing for both the industry and society as a whole. So, we reached out to thought leaders, industry mentors, and the very people who have invested in Holberton School to ask them why they think including more women in tech is an important goal for us, and the broader tech industry as a whole, to pursue. And so without further ado, let’s celebrate Women in Tech and Women’s History Month with all of the people who believe in our vision of inclusion and diversity:
Neha Jain, Software Engineering Manager and winner of Top 10 Women in Cloud 2017
Kelvin Beachum, Professional player for the New York Jets and philanthropist
Shauntel Garvey, General Partner at Reach Capital:
Thank you Betty Holberton for the innovations your brought to tech, thank you to all the women leaders of today for their hard work and innovation, and good luck to the female innovators of tomorrow: We’re rooting for you and we know you’ll achieve greatness.