Learners Guild - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask
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  • done_all

     What does this cost? How does the money work? If you’re investing in me, how do you get paid?

    Good Questions. We know it's unusual, but there is no upfront program fees for Learners Guild. As a Public Benefit Corporation, we want to make education accessible to everyone, no matter their ability to pay.

    You’ll pay for your Learners Guild program fees through an Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) for 12% to 20% of your first three years’ salary (depending on the amount of living allowance you take during the program). The typical starting salary for a junior software engineer is $75K to $95K.

    This means we’re quite literally investing in you: we want you to get an awesome, high-paying job straight out of our program so we can get a reasonable percentage of your income. The better your earnings, the better our earnings.

    And you’ll never get stuck with debt that you can’t repay. If you are unable to earn at least $50,000 using what you learned at the guild, we don’t make a dime. Our success as educators depends upon your success as a professional.

  • settings_applications

     How will I learn? How will I choose projects or goals?

    As mentioned in the answer to "Learners-only? Does that mean there are no teachers?", there are no teachers telling you what to study. Instead, we've used the principles of cognitive apprenticeship to design a system for effective skills training. Nearly all learning takes place in team projects, much in the way that actual software applications are built.

    The essence of it is that instead of many people learning only from one person, every learner is learning from other learners and, in turn, passing on their skills and knowledge. There will always be "experts" whom you can go to ask the most difficult questions, but in most cases you will be learning from other, more experienced learners.

    Because a new group joins every 10 weeks, there is always a dynamic range of skills and experience in the room. We help you use this range to your advantage.

    Our system will help you choose team projects and goals that are both relevant and challenging, so that you're always working with others on interesting problems that push you into your "Proximal Zone of Development". Each team is assigned a more-experienced team lead who guides and supports the project and the team's learning.

  • schedule

     What's the time commitment? What are the days/hours like?

    It's a full time commitment. 8.30 AM to 6.00 PM. Monday through Friday. Learners who want to put in a few more hours have the option of arriving as early as 7am and staying as late at 10pm. But we all agree to be onsite between 8:30 am - 6:00pm.

  • trending_up

     Will you introduce me to employers after the program ends?

    Learners Guild partners with LaunchCode, a non-profit organization that creates pathways to economic opportunity and upward mobility through apprenticeships and job placement in technology. LaunchCode has developed relationships with hundreds of employers ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small tech startups. After 28 weeks in our program, we encourage you to apply to LaunchCode as you begin your pathway to employment. Launchcode has an online evaluation tool to assess your readiness for their program which places qualified candidates either directly in permanent positions, or in paid apprenticeships with its partner companies. These paid apprenticeships last an average of 3 months, and 90% of LaunchCode apprentices are hired as full time employees. Begin the application process here.

  • assignment

     What's my commitment during the program?

    By joining Learners Guild you're committing to spending 40 weeks, full time, working towards becoming a professional software developer. Showing up every day of the week, 8.30 to 6.30. You are also committed to supporting other people in your learning collective, and helping them succeed.

  • av_timer

     What about during the holiday season? Do we get time off?

    We'll take off one week for winter holiday season/new year's, and another week during the summer.

  • timer

     What's my commitment after the program is over?

    Depending on how much stipend you chose, you're commitment is to pay Learners Guild 12.5% to 20% of your gross salary for 3 years.
    Optionally you may volunteer 1 to 2 hours a week for a year to mentor learners that are still going through the program.

  • school

     What if I already have a degree? Is Learners Guild still for me?

    Absolutely. We designed our program for degree holders and non-degree holders alike. Anyone who wants to be a professional software developer.

  • local_offer

     Is the income share calculated from my gross or net pay (before or after taxes)?

    Gross pay. Before taxes.

  • trending_up

     If my salary goes up, does the percentage of my income sharing stay the same?

    Yes. The percentage is fixed. The number of years is fixed (three). Regardless if your salary goes up or down.

  • business

     Isn’t "Learning Collective" just a fancy word for "school" or "bootcamp"?

    Not to us. We're creating a dynamic learning environment, but we're not creating another school or coding bootcamp. The heart of our program is a cognitive apprenticeship model of learning, vetted by scientists and learning researchers, that is a truly powerful means of knowledge acquisition and skill development.

    We know a lot about bootcamps. In fact, many of the folks on our team were pioneers of that industry. But we weren’t satisfied with the results. While bootcamps do a decent job at helping students enter the software industry, we think we can do better at setting you up for rapidly advancing careers and longer term success. A Learners Guild graduate will have coding skills that are heads and shoulders above someone with a Computer Science degree, or a bootcamp graduate. Also, they'll never be in debt.

  • supervisor_account

     Learners-only? Does that mean there are no teachers?

    Yes. While we certainly have people with in-depth industry experience, senior level engineers, and skilled facilitators, we don’t have teachers. A well-designed learning environment causes a rapid transfer of knowledge between experts and peers. You'll be collaborating every day with people ahead of you in the program, and people who started after you. As you learn, you'll share what you know. At Learners Guild, knowledge spreads like wildfire.

    Because technology changes so quickly, knowing information isn’t enough. It doesn’t take long for today’s right answers to become obsolete. To prepare you, we focus not only on what you learn, but how you learn it, developing meta-learning and problem-solving skills. Your ability to continue growing and refining your craft will set you up for sustained success as a software developer. Learners Guild graduates are lifelong learners.

  • language

     What will I learn? What technical skills are covered?

    We invest in you to learn as much as you need to attain and sustain a career as a software engineer. To support you, we hire expert practitioners to help you craft the best possible learning path towards your goal.

    If you're looking for a set curriculum like the one you would find at a school or bootcamp, you won't find it here. We don't believe in a cookie-cutter approach to learning.

    Instead, we focus on two things: helping you learn how to learn, and providing a rich environment for you to practice and develop your craft with other motivated learners.

    We believe the best answer to "what should I learn?" is "whatever the most skilled people around you know." So if you are surrounded by concert pianists, you're better off studying piano than the violin.

    We hire skilled full-stack JavaScript web developers to serve as expert practitioners and mentors from whom you can learn skills and receive invaluable guidance.

    So... will you learn languages like JavaScript? And databases like PostgreSQL and MongoDB? And HTML and CSS and React and git and... The answer is: yes, of course. You certainly will learn these things, and many many more.

    More importantly, though, you will learn the habits of mind of an engineer. You will learn how to build products with a team. You will learn how to evaluate your own skills and choose appropriate challenges to help you advance them. You will learn how to mentor other learners, not just because it's a Good Thing To Do, but also because the best way to test your knowledge is to teach it.

    Finally, you will learn how to learn. After all, is there any more important skill?

  • laptop

     Why JavaScript?

    There are plenty of great languages out there, and while JavaScript isn't the greatest, it is a solid choice for people starting their careers in software.

    Why? There are many reasons, the top three being: (1) it is ubiquitous on the web and expanding rapidly to other platforms, so demand for JS developers is unlikely to stop growing anytime soon; (2) the community is robust and there are nearly endless resources for learning; (3) and finally, it is (relatively) simple and straightforward.

    At Learners Guild, we'll use JavaScript as a lingua franca, but it is by no means the only language that you'll encounter or learn. See the "What will I learn?" question for more.

  • supervisor_account

     What does the mentorship process look like?

    As mentioned in the "How will I learn?" question, most of the time learners are working on team projects. Each team is assigned a team lead who acts as a guide, sharing and modeling their more advanced skills for the team members to learn from.

    This process is crucial to our environment. Every learner will start as a team member, but before long they will be leading teams as well. In this way, all learners will not only learn by doing, but also by demonstrating and explaining their skills to others.

    However, the team environment is not the only environment where mentorship takes place. We are a learning collective, which means that everyone involved is available for support and guidance when you need it. We believe in being generous with knowledge, and that an environment of shared curiosity and open information is the best place to learn.

  • offline_pin

     Where does Learners Guild meet?

    We have a beautiful office in Old Oakland

  • public

     I am applying from out of town, can I join the enrollment game remotely?

    No. You need to be in person for that part of the enrollment process.

  • laptop

     Do you have an online option?

    We don't. The power of our model is in the real-time, face-to-face interactions you'll have with people every day. Research shows that learning in a live, group context is accelerated. You learn more, you learn faster, and your conceptual understanding is deeper.

  • thumbs_up_down

     Will we be graded?

    Testing your understanding and skills? Definitely. But grades? No. Grading is a carrot-and-stick approach that assumes you need to be coerced to learn. We’re not here to coerce. We believe in your innate drive to learn and grow, and design our approach around it.

    We don't care about grades. We care about what you understand and what you can do. We think reality is the ultimate test.

  • redeem

     A $1,500/mo living allowance? Really?

    Yes, really. The $1,500 monthly living allowance is intended to help defray your cost of living while you're at Learners Guild. As much as possible, we want you to focus on learning, not earning.

  • trending_up

     Is the living allowance optional?

    Yes it is. If you don't need it, you don't have to take it.

  • power_settings_new

     What happens if I quit the process before graduating?

    It’s in our best interest to see you thrive. If you don't succeed, we don't. We’re very careful to choose applicants who are committed to the process, and if you’re committed to learning, we’re determined to give you all the support you need to finish. In fact, that’s one reason we allow you to take extra time if necessary.

    That said, if you opt out, you will still owe the full program fees, and any living allowance you’ve received. On a case-by-case basis, we may pause a learner's participation in the program, under extenuating circumstances.

  • perm_media

     Will I end up with a portfolio?

    Yes, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to work on projects that will add to your portfolio. Some projects will be smaller, while others will be larger.

    We’ve designed our learning environment to focus on teamwork, so most of the projects are done in teams. However, there will be some opportunities to work on individual projects.

    We hope by the end of your time at Learners Guild, you will be contributing to open source projects (and perhaps even to our own product codebase).

  • code

     Do I need previous programming experience to apply?

    Learners Guild requires that you have at least 50 hours of experience in programming. We do this to ensure that you understand enough about the craft to be committed to it. We expect our community members to be passionate about programming and know enough to want to have a meaningful career as a software developer.

    If you have fewer than 50 hours of programming experience we recommend you check out these resources and come back to completing your application once you’ve accrued the hours:

  • perm_phone_msg

     Do you help with job placement?

    No. We have specifically chosen to not provide job placement services. We made this decision because we want to ensure that you the learner remains our primary client. If we provided job placement services, our attention would be divided between satisfying businesses versus placing our complete focus on satisfying you.

    We have designed our learning experience around real-life industry ready skills. After six months at Learners Guild, you will have developed a good portfolio of work. Our hope is at that point, you start interviewing for your full-time position.

    For us, “gaining full-time employment as an engineer” is another skill that you will be developing at Learners Guild. Over your last few months in the program, you will get better and better at this, up to the point where you will be the one deciding where you'll go to further grow your skills.

  • skip_next

     Do you have a shorter immersion course?

    Currently, no. While it’s possible to cover the basics in a shorter course, our goal is to have you walk out with a much deeper skillset than “the basics.” If we find a way to streamline our approach and still produce stellar results, we’ll certainly consider it.

  • laptop

     Do I need my own computer?

    No. If you need a computer for the program, you'll have the option to request a modified living stipend so that you can receive additional funds to purchase one in the first month of the program. Note that this choice will increase the repayment percentage for your living stipend ISA.

    That said, you're welcome to use your own laptop, as long as it's a Mac. Everyone at Learners Guild uses a Mac computer, so it will be easier for you to collaborate with your team if you are all using the same platform.

  • business

     Can I visit your collective to check it out?

    Not currently. We’re protective of our learners. However, you can meet some of them and our team by showing up at one of our info sessions.

  • receipt

     Will I earn a certificate or degree?

    We're not in the business of giving out certificates or degrees. Our approach is strictly results oriented. There are a lot of people with degrees, but no job to match it. It’s a common mistake to confuse a symbol for learning with the learning itself.

    Learners Guild turns that around: if you don’t end up in a high-paying job, we don’t get paid. Our focus is on getting you ready for the workforce by helping you develop your skills, which are demonstrated by your ability to create a portfolio of work.

  • settings_applications

     What are the requirements to attend?

    Please read the eligibility requirements section.

  • perm_identity

     Who else is going? What kind of people will I meet?

    Other adults like yourself, from a wide range of backgrounds, who share your dedication, passion, and curiosity.

  • perm_scan_wifi

     Isn’t this too good to be true?

    You’ll probably never stop asking this question. (We wish this program existed when we started our careers.) In fact, it’s our goal that you ask this every day you show up and find yourself learning in ways you never thought possible.

    We want you to ask this 40 weeks later, when you’ve landed a job you didn’t think you could have. And we want you to ask this 5, 10, and 20 years later… when you’re still in touch, and still getting support from the friends you made at Learners Guild.

  • done_all

     What is an ISA?

    In general terms, an Income Share Agreement (ISA) is a contractual agreement in which a learner receives program funding in exchange for an agreed upon percentage of post-program income over a defined number of years.

  • settings_applications

     Why is Learners Guild offering ISAs to students?

    Learners Guild is offering ISAs to provide another choice of funding options for learners that could reduce debt and financial risk. For the program fees, this also means that learners can choose to not pay the fees upfront.

    Learners Guild is focused on administering the ISAs with transparency and openness.

  • schedule

     Is the ISA meant to replace student loans?

    The program offers learners an option to pay for the program without incurring debt, so it is explicitly meant to replace student loans with respect to the stipend ISAs. The program fees ISAs offers the learners the choice between paying the $29,750 in program fees upfront, or potentially paying more or less than the $29,750 program fees amount after their participation in the program ends.

  • assignment

     What are the benefits to learners?

    The Learners Guild ISAs offer learners an alternative to debt, whether to take on debt for living expenses, or debt to pay the $29,750 program fee. Debt creates substantial risks to learners if they cannot afford their payments during and after the program, whereas ISA payments adjust according to levels of income. In addition, the ISA payments are subject to a minimum income threshold of $50,000, and a maximum payment cap equal to two (2) times the amount funded, so students who use the program will not pay if they do not meet the minimum income threshold, while those who earn a substantial amount of income will not pay above the maximum amount.

  • av_timer

     Am I required to fully pay the money that was given to me under the ISA?

    An ISA recipient is simply required to pay the agreed upon percentage of post-program income for the prescribed term of the contract. After making successful payments over that term, no additional payments are required even if they have paid less than the amount of funding they received.

  • timer

     Will the amount I am responsible to repay grow through interest expense until I begin making payments or by my occasional underpayment?

    No. The ISA possesses no interest rate. The amount you are required to pay (Income Share multiplied by your earned income) will only grow due to the growth rate of the amount of the income you earn, but the income share level percentage will not change during the term of the ISA.

  • school

     What are the risks to learners?

    The amount of payment is based on income, so if a learner commits to an ISA and earns a high income after graduation they may pay more than they would have if they had paid for the $29,750 in program fees upfront, had obtained the living allowance amounts from another source, or had obtained conventional debt for either the program fees or the living allowance. However, the ISAs cap the total amount to be paid, so no student will ever pay more than that amount.

  • local_offer

     How much funding is available for individual learners?

    Individual funding amounts will vary depending whether a learner elects to enter into an ISA for the program fees, and/or an ISA for the living allowance.

  • trending_up

     How will learners know if an ISA is a good option for them?

    ISAs are among many options that are available for funding, including whether to pay the program fees upfront. Learners should research which options work best for their individual situations.

  • business

     What types of payment terms will be offered for learners?

    The term length and percentage are set to be competitive with current consumer finance options. Depending on the learner’s post-program income, the amount paid back on the ISA may be either lower or higher than the funding amount for the student.

  • supervisor_account

     Following the end of a learner’s participation in the program, when does the ISA payment plan take effect?

    Students are afforded a three-month grace period after their withdrawal from or completion of participation in the Learners Guild program before payments are required.

  • language

     Will learners be required or steered toward certain types of employment?

    There are no requirements stipulating the nature or type of employment that learners choose after the program.

  • laptop

     Which learners will be eligible to apply for an ISA?

    Other eligibility requirements include:

    • US citizen or Permanent Resident
    • Age of majority (18yrs+) at time of contract execution
    • Current and anticipated financial obligations at a reasonable threshold
  • supervisor_account

     What factors should learners consider when deciding whether to accept the stipend and/or pay the program fees upfront, or to apply for the ISAs or other financing options?

    A learner's decision about whether to accept the living allowance, whether to pay the program fees upfront, or to financing all or a part of their living expenses or the program fees should include an assessment of all of the options available based on their individual financial situation.  Learners Guild encourages all learners to consult with trusted advisors and consider how an ISA compares to other financing options.

  • offline_pin

     How can Learners Guild learners apply for an ISA or get more information?

    It is recommended that interested learners discuss ISAs with a financial aid advisor, parents and/or guardians before deciding if an ISA is a possible funding solution for them. The application process for Learners Guild is on a rolling basis and new programs start every 10 weeks. If you have questions about the application process, please contact [email protected]

  • public

     What happens if I transfer or go to grad school?

    If you elect to attend school after your time in the Learners Guild program in lieu of working, your ISA will toll or be paused (similar to in-school deferment) and not be in a payment status for up to an additional seven (7) years.  Your ISA payment term will be extended by the amount of time you are in school.

  • redeem

     Does the ISA cover the entire program?

    You can elect to have your ISAs cover the program fees, your living allowance, or both. In all cases, it will cover what you select for the entire duration of the program.

  • receipt

     How much funding is available for the living allowance?

    Learners are able to elect to enter into an ISA for up to $1,500/month in living allowance. This $1,500/month equates to $346.15/week, so over the 40-week period of the program a learner can receive up to $13.846. Payments for the living allowance are made every 2 weeks, in advance, starting on the second Friday of the program.

  • perm_phone_msg

     What if I take time off to travel or start a family?

    If you voluntarily leave the work-force, your ISA will be paused and not be in payment status for up to an additional seven (7) years.  Your ISA payment term will be extended by the amount of time you take off. However, your income share percentage and the maximum amount of your payment will not change because of this pause.

  • perm_scan_wifi

     What happens if I leave the Learners Guild program shortly after I start?

    If you leave the program during the first 21 days, the ISAs for the stipend and/or the program fees will be cancelled and you will not owe any amounts under the ISAs. If you leave the program after the first 21 days your ISAs will be pro-rated according to our refund policy set forth in the learners guild enrollment agreement.

  • perm_identity

     What documents do I have to sign for the ISAs?

    You will execute an ISA or ISAs with a subsidiary of Learners Guild. Also, you should be aware that another company, Vemo (www.vemo.com), will be responsible administering the ISAs and collecting payments. Vemo is a pioneer in ISAs, and has worked extensively with Learners Guild to make them available to learners.

  • done_all

     Is there an option to "pay off" your financial obligation to Learners Guild early (i.e. before the 36-month repayment period is over)?

    The short answer to this question is "no", and the reason is that you are not borrowing from Learners Guild but instead receiving an investment. The Income Sharing Agreement is an agreement to share your income with Learners Guild in exchange for not paying upfront fees for the Learner Guild program and/or for receiving a living allowance while in the program. Unlike debt, there is no interest compounding or accruing over the course of that time, instead it is an investment Learners Guild is making in you and your obligation in exchange for that investment is to share your income for a specific period of time (36-months if you complete the program), only if you make over $50,000. There is a limit on your payments, so if you reach the payment cap during your payback period your obligation is complete, but there is no benefit to paying towards that cap early. We structured the financial options at Learners Guild to make our program accessible to anyone regardless of your current financial situation but also so that our success is aligned with yours. We don't believe you should have to take on all the risk to improving your career, so that is why we only get paid if you succeed in getting a job over $50,000.

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