This has been a weird year, to say the least. I’m happy it’s finally over, but also proud of the work we accomplished this year. While looking over my notes for the year, there was just too much to mention everything. I decided to focus on just a few areas for this recap.

I didn’t mention all the wonderful student articles, Tech Talks, Capstone presentations, and a myriad of other activities that occurred. For those, check out the Events and Videos sections after logging into

Ok, here’s what I wanted to highlight for 2020 in review.


We launched several big initiatives this year that will have a continued impact to Launch School years down the line. …

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Like many things this year, RubyConf was a little bit different than usual. The event still ran virtually as a series of online talks hangouts, and workshops, including a presentation by one of our own Capstone alums, Sunny. We sponsored tickets for a couple of dozen current Launch School students to attend. Here are some of their take-aways from the event (extracted from our Slack chatroom).

Chris: For those who attended RubyConf, I hope you all enjoyed it! Any major reflections or talks that you enjoyed?

Sunny: My favorites were Mach 2.0 at Scale, The Bug that Forced Me to Understand Memory Compaction, and Upgrading GitHub to Ruby 2.7

If Launch School is my last job, I’d be happy to never put another entry on my resume ever again. I’ve never had a job that I enjoyed this much.

I was thinking of why I felt this way. There’s the impact we effect: life changing results, industry leading salaries, showing the world a more transparent and student-centric education model. I get that those results are worth the grind and may require all the grit I have to reach those ends.

But for the most part, that grind and grit hasn’t been part of my daily experience. Instead, the past 8 years has been mostly a steady joyful experience. Isn’t making a dent in the universe supposed to be full of walking through walls and failing fast? …

Welcome to another episode of the Launch School podcast. This is a slightly different episode in that it’s a recording of a webinar we did a few weeks ago about our Deferred Payment Program. Now why would we include a webinar in the podcast? Well, the reason is because this webinar is actually a panel of Launch School students and the conversation is mostly about their journey through Launch School, so I thought it’d be suitable for the podcast.

The student panel includes:

  • Derick Gross, Capstone alum, Software Engineer at Ridgeline
  • Catherine Emond, Capstone alum, Software Engineer at Shopify
  • Graham Robertson, current Core and DPP participant

You can listen from your favorite podcast app by searching for “Launch School”, or listen directly from your browser.

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Studious Learners

Three years ago, we changed our motto from Serious Beginners to Studious Beginners to better reflect the type of students learning with us at Launch School.

Today, we’re making one more tweak: changing Beginners to Learners. Similar to the change made three years ago, this is not a reflection of changing priorities. It’s a result of better understanding our students.

It turns out that beginners aren’t the only ones coming to learn with us at Launch School. While we do have many students who have never programmed before, we also have a significant percent of students who have been programming for a while. …

In this episode, I caught up with Leena, Rodney, and Christian who started a peer-based study group within the Launch School community called SPOT, which stands for Study, Practice, Overlearn, and Teach. This is, arguably, one of the most important topics for us as a mastery-based learning program.

I’ve been observing this group for a few months and have been blown away by their organization, professionalism, quality of the study sessions, quality of the session leads, and in general the culture of giving back they’ve established.

Everyone is at Launch School because they are ambitious and they want to become the best programmers they can be. We’ve always said it’s a tough road and there’s a lot of hard work involved. Mastery based learning has the potential to unlock every individual’s potential, but it’s a lonely journey. The SPOT community is showing that you can have the best of both worlds and it doesn’t HAVE to be a lonely journey after all. …

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I often get asked questions like ‘what frameworks do you teach at Launch School?’ or ‘do you cover data structures and algorithms?’. These questions aren’t surprising. They likely come from “10 things every developer should know” type articles, or topic-based bootcamp curricula.

Questions like these suggest a misunderstanding about Launch School and our curriculum. They also highlight a more general issue: a misconception about what it takes to be a software engineer.

These questions are rooted in the idea that software engineering is only about knowledge. In other words, “learn this list of topics and you can be an engineer”. …

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Credit: Micheile Henderson (Unsplash)

When we set out to design the Launch School deferred payment program, we wanted to create the most student-centric deferred program in the world. No misleading statements, no predatory entrapment, and low-consequence switching cost.

The main ideas were:

  1. Lower the switching cost, so students can leave without major consequence.
  2. Highest salary-guarantee in the industry.
  3. Salary guarantee only considers base salary
  4. ISA only considers first-year base salary
  5. Shorten the ISA-bound duration to 12 months


Webinar Recording

The recording for this webinar is now available at:

Post-secondary education is a business. The ramifications of this are ugly for students.

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Educational Institutions in the Wild

At an essential level, education is a structured process of learning. It’s concerned with the passing on of knowledge.

In our modern world, education, and particularly post-secondary education, is increasingly becoming synonymous with something else: money.

The promise of future money for the students, in the form of improved prospects and job opportunities. Immediate profit for the educational institutions in the form of, often very sizeable, upfront fees. For the students though, these fees translate to huge debts and financial commitments.

Here I’m specifically talking about universities and coding bootcamps. The bootcamps have investors to report to first and foremost, public relations battles to fight, prospect pipelines to fill. …

I finally had some time to pull together Launch School Capstone’s 2019 salaries. The final Fall 2019 cohort salary came in several months ago, but 2020 being what it is, I only had time to reflect on that now.

Let’s get right to the numbers (only includes US Capstone participants).

2019 Avg Salary Decreased (but still leads industry at $115K)

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All US Capstone Average Salaries

The first question that everyone asks when they see this is: what caused the decrease? Was it COVID? Is the market saturated? Is it finally the demise of the non-accredited learning model?

I believe there are three main explanations for the decline in our Capstone salary:

  • we’ve taken on far more Capstone students who are based outside of New York City (NYC) and San Francisco/Bay Area…

Chris Lee

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