When we sat down with HappyFunCorp’s Ben Schippers to ask him about his new code school, he had some harsh words about competitors like Flatiron School and General Assembly (GA). By Mr. Schippers’ account, those schools aren’t preparing coders to do much more than make “another Hipchat clone.”
When we asked Mr. Schippers why these schools claim such high placement numbers, he fired back:
Well why can’t we hire them? Google can’t hire them. Where are they actually getting hired? This is what I’m constantly asking people. A lot of these programs will tell you you’re going to be able to get a job, and that’s not the reality.
New York’s top code schools were, to say the least, unhappy when they read that, and reached out to us almost immediately.
“Neither Ben Schippers nor HappyFunCorp have ever contacted The Flatiron School to meet, interview or possibly hire Flatiron School graduates,” Adam Enbar, cofounder and CEO of Flatiron School, told Betabeat. “Google, on the other hand, has.”
The Flatiron School and GA’s founders both eventually responded, but when we asked for a hard look into their placement numbers, we were mostly referred to the available A-list of companies that have hired their graduates, and GA’s well-advertised figure of “more than 90 percent” placement.
To be fair, the one thing they were able to confirm is that their high placement ratings correspond with only full-time paid jobs in the field at companies as prestigious as Venmo, Dropbox, Uber and, yes, Google. But otherwise, they repeatedly denied us access to any new information or deeper look into their placement numbers, beyond a hand-selected set of companies where graduates had found work.
The big schools have their reasons for keeping their data private. Insights into where each individual student is placed could give their competition insight into recruitment tactics.
Still, placement numbers are obviously a huge deal: when you’re looking at sinking thousands of dollars into a program that doesn’t even offer a degree, you want to know that you’re going to get a full return on that investment.
But as GA’s CEO and cofounder Jake Schwartz told us, schools don’t want to obsess over placement numbers because they believe black and white metrics don’t paint the full picture of what those schools offer — namely a solid alumni network, career services and long-term guidance.
“Statistics are an important measurement tool, but they’re a blunt object,” Mr. Schwartz told Betabeat. “More important than the binary numbers is how students feel throughout the process and what roles they want to find after graduation.”