This Could Be Big

Back to School And Into a Job

This Could Be Big

Critics assail “for-profit” colleges for overpricing their education and not preparing students for today’s job market. But one such school is shredding that label with its innovative tuition promise: If you don’t get a job, they don’t get paid.

The school is called App Academy, and it teaches novice developers how to code software. The intensive course, operational in New York City and San Francisco, lasts only nine weeks but crams in a gigantic curriculum. Students learn multiple software languages, like SQL and JavaScript, and solve rigorous problem sets.

“Our goal is to place students as software engineers,” said Kush Patel, one of App Academy’s co-founders. “We don’t care so much if they can do graph theory or algorithms or other obscure kinds of CS topics. We want to give them real-world skills they can use and actually get them a job.”

Here’s how the tuition scheme works: Students study free-of-charge during the course’s duration. Upon gaining employment after graduation, alumni forward 15 percent of their annual base salary to App Academy, but not all at once. Instead, that sum -- typically around $12,000 for the average graduate -- is deducted incrementally from an employed graduate’s bi-weekly pay check for six months.

If a student isn’t hired within one year of completing App Academy, that student won’t be charged tuition. But that hasn’t been a problem for App Academy: Ninety-three percent of its graduates have received offers or are working in tech jobs.

According to Patel, the average App Academy graduate earns $83,000 a year – not bad for someone making a career change or who was previously unemployed. But the course is anything but easy. App Academy’s acceptance rate is less than 10 percent, and once admitted, students put in 80 to 90 hours a week in the lab.

As for who App Acacemy accepts, Patel says it takes students from every background. They just need to be fast learners and excellent problem solvers.

“Some of our most successful students in the class have been a yoga instructor and a rug salesman,” he said.

Interested applicants should visit App Academy’s website to learn more. As for other for-profit schools, Patel suggested that they take notice of App Academy’s tuition model, as well.

“We just turned a profit,” he said.

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