BLOC or Thinkful: My Experience

BLOC or Thinkful: My Experience

Having completed a journey of learning to code and design with Thinkful and BLOC respectively, I have been receiving a lot of emails, messages and tweets about my experience. Lately, the questions are about who do I recommend to go with.

There are quite a few comparision posts available online but I guess I am in a unique position since I have experienced both personally. I am going to take the best effort to elaborate on my experience.

Some key things to note before you read the full post,
1. I did a Front-End Web Development Course with ThinkFul.
2. I did a User Experience Design Course with BLOC.
3. I was not paid to write this.
4. This is merely a reflection based on my experience to answer some questions that have been put forward to me.

So, please consider your learning style, time commitment, budget and desired outcome to choose the path better suited for you.


Thinkful vs BLOC

Based on the questions that have been directed at me, I have chosen to compare Thinkful and BLOC on the following points.

Price

  • Thinkful charges $500 per month for all its course offerings. Depending on the course length you will end up spending somewhere between $1000 and $1500 for each course.
  • BLOC charges a $3999 – $4999 depending on the course you choose. It provides payment plans where you pay $1166.67 upfront on enrollment and pay $666.67 on a 5 monthly installment. BLOC provides a $500 partial scholarship for 2 students every week to promote diversity.

Course Offerings

  • Thinkful offers Beginner and Intermediate mentorship courses on Development, Design, Data Science and Mobile. You can combine multiple courses to create your own track. For instance, you can combine Front End, Angular and Node/Ruby/Python to create a Full Stack Development track.
  • BLOC offers 5 single track immersive apprenticeships – *Full Stack, Front End, iOS, Android and UX. *

Curriculum

  • Thinkful provides a combination of beginner/intermediate syllabus, 5 to 8 small projects and a 45min mentor session every week. Thinkful provides you with a mentor (assigned by Thinkful), access to Slack Student Community, 4 office hours per week and a Job prep at the end of course. It will help you get a basic to intermediate level of knowledge on the subject and will provide you with the mindset required to learn more. The syllabus caters for beginners.
  • BLOC provides a combination of an intensive syllabus, 3 major projects and 3 half-hour mentor sessions every week. BLOC provides one-on-one mentorship (you choose your mentor), google+ community, a facebook hacker club and optional Job Prep after course completion. The syllabus is very immersive and caters for entrepreneurs who want to launch their startup and Job Seekers to improve or switch careers. For beginners, It provides some materials (links to specific codecademy and codeschool courses) to do a 1-2 week prep before starting the course.

Time Commitment

  • Thinkful requires a *10 to 15 hours commitment per week. *
  • BLOC requires a minimum of 40 hours commitment per week to complete the apprenticeship in 3 months (You can choose between 12, 18 and 36 week tracks based on your situation).

So, Thinkful or BLOC?

Now, to answer the other part of the question, Who do I recommend, Thinkful or BLOC?
My answer: It depends on you.

No, This is not a cop out but rather the truth. It totally depends on you and your circumstances. But, I am going to help you decide.

1. What is the outcome you want to achieve?

  • If you are trying to get your first job/internship, switch career, or build your own startup then BLOC is the best choice.
  • If you are trying to learn one skill/language at a time, need flexibility, want to create your own track from the many course offerings, start freelancing *, Thinkful is best for that. Though with the recent restructuring of the syllabus, *Career Services has become an integral part of all Thinkful courses and many students have successfully got their first jobs through them.

2. How much time are you willing/able to dedicate to the chosen outcome?

This is very important.

  • BLOC is an immersive apprenticeship where you will need to put in 15-40 hours to get the most out of it. (For the UX Design course, even with the 36 week track, I felt 20 hours per week was not enough.)
  • Thinkful on the other hand is pretty flexible with a 10 to 15 hours commitment. (For Frontend course, I was able to finish the course in 3 months with just 5 to 8 hours commitment per week.)

3. What is your budget?

This is pretty simple. You get what you pay for. How much can you spend? Say, for example, you want *to learn full-stack, *

  • With BLOC, you will need to do Full Stack immersive Apprenticeship which will be $4999 for 9 months and 30mins mentor time (my sessions were either longer or shorter depending on the discussions we have on that day) spending 10-15hrs per week.
  • With Thinkful, You will need to do Front-End + Angular + Rails which will be a $4000 for 8 months and 45mins mentor time (again, my sessions were pretty flexible based on my requirements and our schedules on that day) spending 10-15hrs per week. They are both pretty close.

4. What is your learning style?

  • With Thinkful, You go through a structured syllabus and at the end of each lesson, you do a practice project. You get weekly mentor time to get your questions answered and if you get stuck in between, you will have the slack community and office hours hosted by other mentors.
  • With BLOC, You go through a structured syllabus by learning and doing one project as you progress through each checkpoint. At the end of that, you do 3 projects for which you will be able to work with your mentor and set up the requirements. You work one-on-one with your mentor. If you are stuck in between, you are encouraged to use stackoverflow which is monitored by BLOC mentors but in their absence someone from the community will answer you. BLOC has an active Hacker Club in facebook where students form cross-track team to do their capstone project or for study groups, etc..

My 2 Cents

To conclude,

BLOC
An intensive, mentor-led apprenticeship suitable for getting you first job/internship or building your product and people who can commit with both money and time.

Thinkful
A budget-friendly but not cheap, low intensity, mentored, self-directed, community-based learning suitable for beginners and people who need flexibility and cannot commit with money and time.

Apart from time and budget, Your level of commitment and self motivation will always determine how much you get out of the experience, be it Thinkful or BLOC. So, my 2 cents is that,

  1. Choose based on your learning style and the outcome you desire.
  2. You get a slice of time off the busy schedule of an industry specialist for what you are paying, be it Thinkful or BLOC. So, *Utilize your mentor time properly. *

Hope this answers most of your questions. If you like, you can checkout my latest design work at dribbble or connect with me on twitter. Enjoy your journey to code or design 🙂