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Welcome, Bienvenido, Bienvenu, أهلا بك to Holberton!

Today we’d like to welcome our newest worldwide cohorts and also celebrate our 1,000th enrolled student. Our family continues to grow! Three hundred and fifty new students started their Holberton journey across eight campuses in four countries – bringing the total count of enrolled students to 1,200. 

Thanks to our digital, project-based curriculum, every cohort across the world can access the exact same quality education. And because students share the same calendar, learn the exact same material, and have access to our global Slack community, our students can collaborate globally as easily as they could collaborate locally. And with students on 3 continents, there is almost always someone up and ready to learn with their peers.

And our Checker never sleeps either.  Checker, our automated code validation system, gives students near-instant feedback on their coding projects. Checker not only validates the code works as intended, but it also checks for documentation, how well edge cases are handled, how optimized the code is, validates academic integrity of the students’ work, and if the code follows our strict style guide. As of last June, the Checker was reviewing 10 millions lines of code.  We estimate it would take more than 600+ instructors to provide the same volume and value of correction. Passing this thousand-enrolled-students threshold means more work for our dear Checker!

So please join me on welcoming Cohort 11! Welcome, Bienvenidos, Bienvenu, أهلا بك to Holberton

Let’s Talk Results: Reviewing Our Student Success Snapshot 2019

As we look forward to the future, we want to share the impacts we’ve already made in our students’ lives. After reviewing all of our student data, we’d like to share our 2019 Student Success Snapshot!

This snapshot looks at students from Cohort 0 (our first cohort) to Cohort 5, as these are the students that have been in the program long enough to go through our entire curriculum plus six months. But, to get an idea of how much we’ve grown, in January 2020 we will be opening Cohort 11 across all of our campuses worldwide, and we expect Cohort 11 to have even more students than Cohort 0 through Cohort 5 combined!

Now, without further ado:

Note: Career Track is no longer available in San Francisco.

To help us better understand these numbers, we’d like to share some background.

First, Holberton’s education is separated into two 9 month segments: Foundations, and Specializations or Career Track*. Foundations is the curriculum that every student goes through, and is the first 9 months of a student’s education. This curriculum teaches students, from the ground up, the skills that will become the basis for their education and their professional career. As a true Full-Stack software engineering education, Foundations at Holberton teaches not only the critical technological skills (low-level programming, front-end and back-end web development, DevOps, data-structures, algorithms, and more) but also the core soft skills that students will use throughout their careers. And through the Foundations curriculum, students will learn the most critical skill of all: Students will discover how to utilize our Framework to “learn how to learn” and use our methods to maintain their career throughout their lives.

After Foundations, students may pursue Specializations, where students will be trained in exciting technologies like Machine Learning or Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, or they may pursue Career Track*, where they may graduate from Holberton through professional reference and manager approval.

Nga La from Cohort 8 whiteboarding with her peers at our San Francisco campus.

NOTE: All of these numbers are for students from Cohort 0 to Cohort 5, and students who are working in the US. Also, all of these numbers are self reported by our students, so these numbers are accurate to the best of our knowledge.

With all Students who complete at least Foundations, but not the whole program, the median salary is $95k for their first full-time job. For students who have worked two years since their first job after Holberton, the median salary is $118k, and the median for all employed students who have completed foundations is $102k. The amazing takeaway from this? Not only are students earning great incomes, with 78% of students who have even completed just part of the program finding jobs within 6 months, but students who are working for two years after their first job see their income, on average, increase by over 20%.

For people who are used to traditional upper education, one fact may be really interesting right now: Students are being employed, as software engineers, before completing the whole program. At a traditional University, this would be counterproductive: The purpose of going to most universities is to get a Degree (For undergraduates; AA, AS, BA, or BS). At Holberton, the whole purpose is to get students gainfully employed as software engineers, so if a student opts to leave Holberton early to accept a role as a software engineer, then we’ve done exactly what we’ve set out to do. Our students work hard to become well-paid software engineers, and while we think students should continue within the program to pursue a Specializations, landing that first software engineering role and launching their new career is the true goal of Holberton’s education. 

The growth in student roles is also very important to us. For our students’ first job out of Holberton, 47% of students receive offers for standard full-time employment as their first role out of school, and the rest is split across Internships, apprenticeships, and contractor work. And the average current employment status of students in these early cohorts? That 47% becomes 87% in full employee roles. Holberton students have been able to very successfully convert these entry level and trial roles into full time employment, often within the first year of working as a software engineer.

And for students who complete the whole program? Their first income out of the program is over 7% higher than students who complete just Foundations, which over a lifetime of earnings, is a huge increase.

Heindrick Cheung, Cohort 6, San Francisco campus

What do these numbers mean for students who go to Holberton?

Holberton students have seen some incredible benefits, professionally and economically, from participating in our program. This success is in part due to our education, but it is also the result of our students’ hard work and drive to become software engineers. With the individual commitment that each student puts into the curriculum, we’re seen grocers, high school graduates, sports coaches, day laborers, restaurant workers, musicians, and even the unemployed and homeless become well paid software engineers. Holberton’s education is the framework that our students use to grow and develop their personal skills and abilities, and by leveraging this framework through the rest of their professional lives, will be able to maintain their competitiveness in this rapidly changing field of study (As evidenced by the median +20% increase in compensation our graduates see in 2 years). And we can’t wait to see the success of students in Cohort 6 and later; as these students around the world start to enter the workforce we can’t wait to see the continued positive impact that our graduates will have.

New school vs old school: How do these results stack up?

It’s tempting to compare Holberton School to a university, so let’s do exactly that! 

As a refresher, Holberton’s admissions process is dependent on three points: Passing our admissions test, being over the age of 18, and having a high school diploma or equivalent. We don’t ask for an SAT score, admissions is not dependent on any previous GPAs or previous coursework, or many of the other hurdles that universities put in the way of their potential students. And since we don’t use student loans, we can accept everyone into our program that meets our minimum requirements regardless of ability to pay or to secure a loan.

If you look at Holberton students who complete Specializations or Career Track*, the median early career income of $109K, and our students with 2 years of experience see a median income of $118K. Now, let’s compare this to the median income data for computer science graduates from the US’ leading universities:

(Source: Payscale.com, Dec 2019)

Payscale.com classifies “Early Career” as graduates with 0-5 years of experience. Since we are still a young school, we do not have many graduates with 5 years of professional programming experience, so our next best number is our median current income of all students who have completed the program, which is $109K, and increases to $118K for students with at least two years of experience as software engineers. So, we feel that our results speak for themselves: Our students can achieve Ivy League salaries without the prerequisites, the time, or the upfront cost. 

To the students who have been dreaming to go to one of these top universities, you will be well served by these incredible educational institutions and you should go where your dreams take you. For students who are looking to get a career started in tech, and want to focus with a curriculum 100% dedicated to the skills and knowledge needed to launch and maintain this career, Holberton School can provide that. 

And by focusing in on these career skills, our students are seeing great success in launching their careers, with 78% of our Foundations students, and 99% of our graduated students, seeing placement in 6 months. In contrast, the nationwide average is that 43% of students are underemployed in their first role, and even after 10 years, 32% of students are working in a position that does not require their degree.

Early successes from around the world

In 2019, Holberton opened up its first two new campuses in New Haven, CT, and Colombia. While the first students at these locations are just barely past their Foundations, we’ve already seen some amazing successes:

First, Sikorsky has already hired several Holberton students from our New Haven campus

Wolf Hopkins, Cohort 8, New Haven campus

And in Colombia, Holberton students are earning incomes that are double of what is seen by computer science graduates from local universities

An observation on the income success of a Holberton student at our Bogota campus in comparison to students who have 5 years of education at a Colombian university. Summarized? Holberton students make 2x as much.

So, to get an even better picture of our students’ success, make sure to stay tuned for our 2020 Student Success Snapshot!

*Career Track is not available in the San Francisco location due to CA regulation.

Introducing Checker

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.

Checker: Saving the environment from one impossibly tall stack of paper each year.

Who is Guillaume Salva?

Guillaume Salva, CTO
Guillaume Salva, CTO

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.

Checker being run on an early-curriculum Holberton School project

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.

If you want to learn more about Holberton School, please visit www.holbertonschool.com.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a student, then you can start your application today! There’s no cost, you will get a taste of the learning methods our students employ, and it’s quite fun!

Batch One – Year One complete and it rocked our socks!

Our batch 01 students have graced the halls of Holberton and as their first year winds to a close, we have some exceptional success numbers!

80% of batch 01 students are already working in the tech industry as software engineers. WOOT!

 

 

Students have landed jobs and internships in companies like Tesla, Apple, NVIDIA, Scality, Dropbox, Docker, Shopkick and so many more exciting startups. Our program lasts a period of 2 years, but many of our students already have jobs within the first year! How cool is that?

If you haven’t checked out the video of our students story yet, take a few minutes and watch it here.

Hear what some of our students have to say about their current roles in the tech industry:

 

 

Swati Gupta, Software Engineer at NVIDIA says,

 

Holberton prepared me with tons of useful skills that are needed for a fast paced tech job, not just technical skills but soft skills too. I learned how to navigate, how to find the right tools and when to seek help. It made me a constant self learner, always adapting and accommodating to new information. The projects I did at Holberton were targeted at exposing all stacks of an application and based on latest technology, for instance the exposure to use docker containers. Because of the training I received at Holberton I feel more confident and prepared for my work life at NVIDIA

 

         

 

Anne Cognet, Software Engineer at TESLA says,

 

Holberton helped me get my internship at TESLA in so many ways. The school curriculum constantly pushed me to go deeper and do better. My classmates were very supportive, their approaches and questions helped me understand new concepts and gave me new ideas for solving problems. The school network helped me polish my resume as well. At my workplace, I am understanding & implementing the topics that I learned at Holberton. I believe the school gave me a strong foundation I can rely upon, and that makes me learn faster.

Before we look ahead to accomplishing anything further, we wanted to thank our community of mentors, students and team who helped make this year such a success.

Applications are now open for the January 2018 batch, you can learn more about it here.