Risky investments for $390 Alex

Remember when I took that Data Analytics class and nearly got killed by my Lyft driver? Yeah so I might be diving into the part-time 10-week course they’re offering this year. I’m pretty skeptical despite loving the class. Mainly because the prospect of dropping four grand  doesn’t make my balls tingle in any positive way. More like my asshole puckered so hard I needed an epi-pen after I heard “three thousand ninety dollars.” Yes, they called me. Literally 5 minutes after I requested a copy of the course syllabus, I’m speaking to an admissions rep. The first session enrollment period starts next week so they’re pretty god damn thirsty. Of course I would never make such a commitment without doing my research fam. And boy do I have some juice bits for you lovely souls.

This Data Analytics course is provided by General Assembly; one of a handful of “hack schools” that offer specialized courses within the tech sector. Primarily they focus on UX (User Experience) design, web development, coding, digital marketing, and data science. Real nerd shit that’s hot and poppin’ right now. Similar institutions are Hack Reactor, Code Ninja, and some other poorly namely hipstery ones. Suffice to say, they make the claim that they land their graduates jobs paying 80k+ per year at a 80-95% success rate. Sounds like a load of shit at face value, but nothing rarely is what it claims to be on the surface. So I dug deeper, curated some reviews, did my Google-fu, and read a handful of in-depth articles breaking down this industry.

Truth be told, they’re on the up and up, but the thing that is slightly disingenuous is the notion that these hackademies can make Joe Schoe into Coding Hero in 12 weeks. Or Plain Jane into Marketing Master Mary after 6 hours of instruction every week for 10 weeks. Of course not. While the overall review of General Assembly was great, there was a concerning number of people who felt they got scammed. I feel this is partly GA’s fault and and partly the fault of over-optimistic/naive students. One review that stood out to me was probably the smartest person on the page.

“If you’re going into this program with no coding knowledge expecting to be a super star after the program, you’re crazy. My advice? Spend 3-6 months learning basic programming languages for free or at low premiums. Take online assessments twice and if you do well, shell out the 10k for this course.”

Other reviews hinted at the terrible quality of instructors and the negative responses to criticism GA fostered. I can believe that; some clown that works for Amazon as a Senior Shitbag thinks he’s the smartest dude in the room and goes off power tripping. These instructors are generally professionals in their respective industry. Much more is needed than being smart to be an effective teacher. So you got these people thinking they can teach because they know shit. Nah son, not how that works. Fortunately for me, the free class had a very knowledgeable instructor that knew how to break down processes. So if I do take the plunge, I want him (reply to my email man, come on).

All of this is a huge risk though. I could easily get burned on this deal and be out a big chunk of change. Education, for me anyway, is a means to an end. If I didn’t need to go to school to have better earning potential, my ass would have stayed at Panera for a bit longer (despite the class-action lawsuit). Get some experience and work my way up. But being that education is the key to getting my NSX, I gotta get down with the get down. My biggest fear is that after everything is said and done, even with projects in my portfolio and chopping it up at networking events, I’m gonna still be at square one…with more debt.

Though what a lot of people, in those reviews and generally in college, fail to realize is that what you gain from any instance of education will be a direct reflection of what you invest into it. I never understood why someone would pay thousands of dollars to only skip going to that class. You’re wasting your money. Whether or not the state gave it to you, it’s yours and you’re squandering it because you drank too much the previous night, weak. Being that I understand that correlation, I think I’ll be fine, but the uncertainty is scary. I don’t expect to be a demigod data analyst at the end of this, but I definitely want some career related results. But again that’s dependent on my effort and what I’m willing to do to maximize this investment short of outsourcing my work (if only).

Wasn’t really planning on going back to school any time soon, but sometimes you can’t ignore the signs. There’s an open-house in March so I’ll creep on them in person then. This industry is big business though. 10-12k per student, 27 student classrooms on average with 2 enrollment periods…pfft. These fools are cashing out something serious. If all I cared about was money I might scheme my way into this racket and get a slice of the “hack” pie.

I don’t think there’s a real substitute for a traditional university though. Accreditation and career professors that generally care about their fields gives me a lot more security than listening to some business executive who woke up one day saying “I’m gonna teach people how awesome. And by awesome I mean deplorable human beings.” On top of that, university professors are required to have PHDs. Somebody who spends that much time in school to teach in school is serious about their profession. Wouldn’t catch me 100k in debt where my only joy is throwing my syllabus at unsuspecting 19-year-olds.

I have round 2 with my buddy Brian from Admissions tomorrow so I’ll have a conference with him and my 15 questions aimed at demystifying any bullshit statements he decides to recite from his playbook. Homey don’t play dat.