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Ask DN: Has anybody taken a course at Thinkful

6 years ago from , Design by Marcus

I'm thinking about taking the UX and front-end courses. I just wondered if any of you guys have enrolled there if so are they worth the money and would you recommend them to others.

18 comments

  • bruce redden, 5 years ago

    It is 2016,  I just spent a month stepping thru the Thinkful Front-End Development course.  While my mentor was helpful and talented,  the course-work was disappointing.  "Think of reading a book with many pages missing from the story" .   You are left with a feeling of confusion as too much essential subject matter is not provided by Thinkful coursework regarding HTML and CSS.   While the mentor can fill-in some gaps,  you must go to other websites to complete your answers to your many questions.    For a price of $300 to $1500 per month,  the student deserves more robust course materials to properly leverage their time spent with their mentor.  Unfortunately skilled mentors will not makeup for the flawed course materials.

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  • John GillisJohn Gillis, almost 6 years ago

    Hi Marcus,

    I'm currently in the Front End course (a few weeks in). I don't have much to compare it to but so far so good. The curriculum is well laid out and feels like a good mix of breadth and depth. The Mentor piece is crucial and there is a community of other students as well. In short, it's always about how much effort and time you put in, but form me it was the right mix of completely unguided and having to a very regimented (probably more expensive) course.

    Hope that helps.

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    • , almost 6 years ago

      How is the difficulty of the course and what level of knowledge did you have going in? Also have you heard anything about the UX course as I haven't been able to find any reviews by googling.

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  • James Van Dyke, 6 years ago

    Hi Marcus,

    I mentor at Thinkful and can give you my insight. I believe that Thinkful is a unique service, but may not be for everyone.

    One neat thing about Thinkful is the inclusion of mentors. Mentors aren't your TA in truth, but more of a limited resource you can rely on to supplement your learning. You'll still be doing the work yourself, but a mentor can help you get unstuck. Mentors provide the most use in keeping you grounded. They have real world experience in the given subject and can provide practical advice and coaching that is not included in the course. That being said, YMMV.

    As a mentor, I see your project, but I don't grade them (no one does). I'll provide some constructive comments to make sure my students understand the main point of the lesson and the limitations of their code, but that is balanced by encouragement to ensure that they stay engaged. I'm not trying to bring them up to being A-grade programmers from the start, but to make them aware of the underlying practical complexities that may not be apparent from reading the course. I will also do code exercises in an online text editor to show more advanced topics as appropriate. This is something that can be missing from other online courses.

    Thinkful may not be the best if you are completely new to programming. As in, you haven't programmed before. I've noticed that students without previous experience struggle though parts of the front end course. This may be true of other courses as well.

    There's a large community on Slack for students to get help in addition to their mentors. This can be faster than emailing a mentor since mentors have day jobs and don't get paid to hover over Slack or their Thinkful emails.

    Also, I feel that Thinkful isn't trying to be the end-all source for learning a topic. The front end course, of example, covers the basics but does so at times by asking the student to go read a certain site or chapter from an external book. I also refer my students to free online courses to supplement their learning in parts they are struggling in or that I don't feel are covered well (i.e., object-oriented programming).

    I'd be happy to answer any more specific questions you might have.

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    • , 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

      Thanks for the reply James,

      Firstly, what course do you mentor in?

      As I mentioned I'll be doing the UX and front-end course, I know about most parts of HTML & CSS but haven't put any of my knowledge into practice. I've been learning design for 7 months (https://dribbble.com/mshanda) but want to further my knowledge on the UX side of things and the course looks like it will encourage a good workflow too. I think I can carry on as I've been doing with regard to the visual side of design so I don't think I need to do the modern web design course.

      I'm doing a little freelance design work here and there so I think it would be beneficial to learn some front-end development if and when projects to design and build arise. I believe being able to design and build competently could be a quite valuable skill-set for my freelance career or for getting full-time employment. I do worry a little bit about the programming though as it's not something I've done before but hopefully I can pick it.

      When you've finished a course and are no longer a paying member do you still have access to the community?

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      • Jeya KarthikaJeya Karthika, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

        I can answer the last question. You will never lose access to the course content (including updates) and community.

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      • James Van Dyke, almost 6 years ago

        I'm a mentor for the front-end (FEWD) course. It sounds like Thinkful would be useful for you. The FEWD course does include some basics of programming, but only because you're going to need to be familiar with the concepts in order to make a site that is maintainable.

        I can't answer whether Thinkful is the best option for you, in particular, though. I can say that I think you can get the same knowledge from a recent book about web development and by reading sites like netuts and Smashing Design, but that's a lot of content to sift through. So it's the guided vs. self-directed question, where Thinkful falls somewhere in the middle.

        For example, if I were learning from scratch, I think that I would prefer a community college course or two about the basics of web programming. Then, I would pick up a few books with exercises to dive into topics that interest me. I'd rather have the college course for direct access to a teacher and the books to study at my own pace.

        If you're strapped for money, or just want to be more efficient with your resources, I recommend reading the entire book Eloquent JavaScript v2 (it's free online) before you start the course. you can burn a lot of time (read: money) in the course if you're struggling with basic concepts and vocabulary.

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        • Marcus H, almost 6 years ago

          Thanks for the resources, I've already signed up for the FEWD course and it officially begins today but I had access to it for a few days and I'm up to the Github section. If I do struggle on the programming section are you able to pause the course? That would be useful if I find I'm struggling on a certain area like JS.

          I think I'll work better with a guided/curated path rather than trying to piece it together myself.

          I'm going to try and dig into that book now so I won't be so green by the time I get to the JS part of the course.

          Thanks for the reply.

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          • James Van Dyke, almost 6 years ago

            Congratulations! I hope it goes well. The Thinkful team is very responsive and accommodating. I'm not sure about "pausing", but you can always ask.

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  • Jeya KarthikaJeya Karthika, 6 years ago

    Hello Marcus,

    I did the course last year and have documented my experience in my blog. The syllabus has been rewritten based on feedback through the past few months (I have been through the new syllabus) and they are adding career services to each course from next week. I had a very positive experience with my mentor, community and the staff. So, I would definitely recommend them and say it's worth the money.

    Hope that helps you. Please feel free to reach out if you have specific questions. Good luck!

    Cheers, Jeya

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    • , 6 years ago

      Thanks Jeya,

      I've already come across your blog and read your entry about your time doing the front-end course. So far I've found only positive feedback and I'm 99% sure I'm going to take both courses. Have you heard anything about the UX course as I've only seen people mentioning the front-end course so far.

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      • Jeya KarthikaJeya Karthika, 6 years ago

        Before I answer that, Just wanted to say, I looked up your work on dribbble and they are great. I have had the opportunity to look into the Thinkful UX course syllabus (Perks of being a Thinkful student ambassador). It is a 2 month structure. Perfect for designers who want to start with UX and develop a workflow. The syllabus looks like its more hands on and mentor collaborative learning than just reading the curriculum. Unfortunately I did not do the course so not able to comment on how the mentors handle the course and students.

        But, after reading the whole curriculum, I can say this much: It is not an intensive course. You get what you pay for. You get an understanding of UXD and your mentor time which will open you up to start practicing UX.

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        • , almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

          Thanks for the praise Jeya,

          I'm actually working 2 new projects at the moment and they're probably my best work so far. If your newest work isn't your best you can't be improving, that's how I think anyway.

          I know that I will be taking the FEWD course because I've heard nothing but good things about it. The UX one I'm a little unsure about but I've read that you can start the course and get your money back if you don't like it but you have to drop out within the first 2 weeks. I guess I'll start the UX one and see how it goes and follow up with the FEWD course.

          Thanks for replies.

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          • Jeya KarthikaJeya Karthika, almost 6 years ago

            You are welcome Marcus.

            I totally agree. I have been learning visual design on my own in parallel to my UX apprentice. If there is one thing I have learnt from my mentor, it is that there is always room to make it better.

            All the best with your learning. :)

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            • Marcus H, almost 6 years ago

              Last question, are you allowed to choose your mentor or are you assigned one arbitrarily? I googled a few of the UX mentors and 2-3 stood out as exceptional designers so naturally I'd like to be taken under the wing of one of those if possible.

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              • Jeya KarthikaJeya Karthika, almost 6 years ago

                From my experience, you are matched to a mentor by the course-coordinator. But, I am not sure if this has changed over the past few months. Have put forward the question to the Thinkful staff. Will have an answer for you once they respond.

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