When I look back on my journey founding The Software Guild in 2013, one thing that has stuck with me is the uphill battle my team and I faced when it came to explaining what a coding bootcamp was and convincing early adopters that this education model was effective, as identified by our selective and competitive admissions process.
Since our first class, prospective students have asked us what percentage of our graduates find jobs, and we’ve always done our best to track and share that information. However, we’ve come to realize that a single “job placement rate” hides a lot of important details. How do we count students who don’t seek work? What about part-time or contract positions? What about bootcamps that hire their own students? What actually defines a placement? Is it any job or only jobs in the field utilizing the training provided by the school?
The team at The Software Guild has always held itself to high standards. We do not hire our own students, we have never counted out-of-field positions as placements, we have avoided gimmicks like job guarantees, and we have strived to be ethical in our in-house data reporting. So you can imagine how frustrating it was for our prospective students (and us) that it wasn’t possible to do an apples-to-apples comparison between programs. We know that the Guild is one of the top programs in the world, but with no standards or auditing on an industry-wide basis, how could we prove it?
For these reasons, we are proud to be a founding member of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), and we are excited to release for students who attended our school in the first half of 2016, using the methodologies developed by this standards body. This brings transparency, accountability and comparability that benefits the consumer.
The CIRR format addresses the reporting problems I’ve identified by going beyond a single placement percentage and providing a simple table to report the range of outcomes graduates have, including full-time employment, part-time and contract, entrepreneurs and so on. It also breaks these outcomes down by job title and salary ranges, so that consumers can target the appropriate programs for their professional goals and do a cost-of-living analysis for the salary in the region where they will work. The CIRR standard is superior to most other reporting formats because it reports on every student who enrolled in our classes, including withdrawals, which makes it completely transparent. After all, what good would a 100 percent placement rate be if it was not disclosed that 80 percent of people fail to complete a program?
Another reason we’re so excited about CIRR is that we’re one of 15 schools using the exact same definitions to measure our outcomes and the exact same format to report them. (Plus, another 25 schools have asked to join since CIRR’s first public announcement last month.) So, prospective students can compare our outcomes with any CIRR school they’re interested in attending and know that their methodology in reporting is the same. Additionally, these reports are audited by a third party, so no one is just taking our word for it.
If you’re a prospective student considering attending a school that isn’t a CIRR member, we encourage you to ask the school to join so that you can compare its outcomes too.
To the best of our knowledge, CIRR is the first time that any group of schools has ever come together and agreed on a transparent, comparable set of outcomes reporting standards. Data on two- and four-year institutions as a whole shows that only 55 percent of first-time students graduate within six years, only 33.7 percent of returning college attendees ever finish and only 27.3 percent of graduates work in a field related to their major. As you can see from our outcomes data, the Guild is performing significantly better than other institutions, and we are pleased to officially rank as one of the top programs in the world!
We’re hopeful that the CIRR standards pave the way for all higher education institutions to eventually begin reporting their outcomes data in a transparent, comparable format. Competition is healthy for a market and benefits the consumer. We look forward to continuing to improve our processes and outcomes.