Why Online Bootcamps Represents the Future of Education


In 2017, Austen Allred launched Lambda School, an online school that trains you to become a software engineer without any upfront payment.

Immediately, he sent shockwaves throughout the world.

To this day, Lambda School is one of the most reputable online schools in the world, primarily known for popularizing the "Income Share Agreement."

An Income Share Agreement or ISA is a way for students to forego upfront payment in exchange for sharing a piece of their future salary should they land a job in the industry for which they were trained.

Why Online Bootcamps Will Win

When it comes to job retraining, we have had to rely on graduate schools or online courses.

The problem with most graduate programs is that they can take two years and $100,000 to complete. Online courses, while quite a bit more accessible, don't provide nearly enough hands-on training to help students land jobs.

In the next ten years, online bootcamps will disrupt post-graduate programs and online courses to create a better path forward for working professionals- one that's accessible and affordable. Here are a few reasons why:

Remote Learning

Unlike most colleges and universities, geography isn't a limiting factor when it comes to enrolling in an online bootcamp. For those who have families or need to stay close to home, this can be a tremendous advantage.

Enrolling in a graduate program often requires putting life on pause, moving to a new city, and spending years on training in the hope of maybe one day landing a job.

Online bootcamps are far more accessible.

Relevant Content Taught by Industry Experts

Despite the fact that Universities offer us the promise of job outcomes, the instructors at most colleges are rarely the right ones to be the ones to be delivering the training.

College professors are excellent academics and great researchers; however, they've hardly spent any time in the industry- or if they have, it's been so long that their expertise aren't relevant anymore.

Bootcamps instructors are different.

Bootcamps hire industry experts who understand the information that's relevant today. Even more, these instructors aren't teaching as a way to fund their research and achieve tenure. Bootcamp instructors genuinely love to teach.

You can see the results in the student outcomes.

A Lean Curriculum

Another problem with a traditional university curriculum is the amount of "excess" within the content. Universities have adopted a "holistic" education model, which requires students to take a series of classes and electives that extend beyond their core area of study.

While this is great for building your general knowledge, this rarely contributes to helping students land jobs.

Bootcamps, on the other hand, can onboard, train, and place students in jobs at least 5x faster than any traditional degree program.

This is because job placement isn't an afterthought. It's baked into the curriculum. Students are taught how to apply their skills to job interviews from day one. They're taught to use industry-standard tools and work on projects that mimic projects in the workplace.

Very few universities offer a similar solution.

Risk Protection

Thanks to Lambda School, ISAs have become the norm for financing your education at most online bootcamps.

ISAs fundamentally shift the risk of student employment from the student to the institution. Instead of requiring upfront payment, an institution can offer deferred payment in the form of a revenue share of the student's future income.

If the student doesn't land a job, they pay nothing at all.

Why we need more Lambda Schools?

We're at an interesting inflection point in history. Universities are failing to deliver the job outcomes for students that we need as a society. The data backs up this conclusion: 

  • 51% of college graduates are either unemployed or working a job that doesn't require a college degree
  • Only 27% of college graduates land a job that relates to their major

As a result, we're seeing record-high student debt and college graduates without jobs. This is a signal that the tide is changing. A degree alone is not enough to help land students land jobs. They need to prove that they possess the skills to excel in their industry through project-based work.

We believe that online bootcamps will fill this gap, but they are not nearly enough out there. While the bootcamp revolution started with software engineering, they will affect all industries far and wide.

New internet careers are emerging every single year, and Universities are just not able to keep up.

Listen to our podcast episodes where we dive into the history of coding bootcamps with Kush Patel (App Academy) and David Yang (Fullstack Academy).

How Virtually is Empowering Online Bootcamps

To this day, Virtually is working with some of the top online bootcamps across the globe, including...

Building your own online bootcamp? Learn how Virtually can help.

Ish Baid

Ish is the Founder & CEO of Virtually (YC S20).