Many colleges and universities are launching new academic programs to grow enrollment. Unfortunately, new market pressures are making launches riskier than ever.
For one, colleges face rising competition from nontraditional players, like bootcamps and MOOCs, writes Kaitlyn Maloney, a business affairs expert at EAB. And corporations are gravitating to these nontraditional providers to address their learning and development needs, further shrinking the pipeline for traditional professional programs.
In response, some colleges are partnering with coding bootcamps—or launching their own—to boost students’ career outcomes and meet regional workforce demands.
Harvard University and Yale University, for example, launched coding bootcamps aimed at tech and liberal arts students as well as adult learners. Harvard now offers a part-time, 24-week certificate program through its extension school, while Yale offers a 10-week, two-credit web development summer course in partnership with the Flatiron School.
“With industry demand for technology skills set to double in the next decade, the call from local professionals and businesses has never been clearer,” said Huntington Lambert, Harvard’s dean of continuing education in a press release announcing their partnership with Trilogy Education Services, a coding bootcamp. The partnership “will provide a complementary pathway into the digital economy for those in the workforce and a new pipeline of technology talent for the area’s employers,” he added. Colleges that integrate the bootcamp model into the undergraduate experience can equip students with the knowledge and skills they will need for the future of work, writes Matthew Rascoff, associate vice provost for digital education and innovation at Duke University, for The Evolllution.
To succeed in the labor market, students “will need literacies that come from diverse methodologies— quantitative and qualitative, narrative and analytical, empirical and empathetic,” says Rascoff.
Duke, for example, has partnered with Coursera to integrate a bootcamp model of online, self-paced, non-credit learning experiences into the student experience, says Rascoff. These opportunities fit into Duke’s broader curriculum that includes opportunities for students to learn career-relevant skills and take on hands-on projects, he adds.
Why coding bootcamps appeal to learners
Some graduates turn to coding bootcamps because they feel frustrated with their career and salary outcomes, according to a 2017 survey by online bootcamp Codecademy. The bootcamp partnered with SurveyMonkey to ask 1,165 of its users why and how they use the site.
The survey found that about 55% of respondents already had some form of college degree. When asked why they’re taking the courses, about 40% said they hoped learning to code would help them start on an entirely new career path. Others took courses to advance their careers. Around 30% of respondents said they received a pay raise as a result of learning to code and 10% said they received a promotion.
It’s often a lack of time—not a lack of interest or money—that pushes students to intensive bootcamps, according to research from EAB’s Academic Affairs Forum. Typical certificate programs require a 12-18 month commitment from students, a prohibitively long length of time for young professionals who want to advance or change careers quickly.
Many respondents also reported joining the bootcamp because they prefer an online format for coding classes. Online formats may provide a more private, safer atmosphere, writes Ashley Hockney for Codecademy. Roughly 5% of respondents said they felt anxious learning to code in a traditional campus environment, and women were 2.5 times as likely as men to feel this way. Nearly 25% of respondents who had taken a full-time university course said they preferred online courses because they provide a safer place to learn.
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