The unique coding bootcamp 42 School offers tuition-free tech education. With campuses in France and Silicon Valley, this school provides comprehensive software engineering training with a peer-to-peer learning model.
42 School is a coding bootcamp designed to train people for a lifetime in tech. Students learn the latest technologies at their own pace with a plan that’s tailored to their needs.
At the moment, 42 School isn’t accepting applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we’re here to highlight the unique features of the program so that, when admissions do reopen, you’ll be ready to jump in and ace the application process.
|42 School Key Information|
|Locations||Silicon Valley, Paris|
The original 42 School campus is located in Paris, France. The school has since added a second location in Silicon Valley.
Along with its own campuses, 42 School licenses its program to schools around the world. In so doing, it has extended its reach to Hungary, South Africa, Russia, Brazil, South Korea, and more.
Students at 42’s Silicon Valley location can choose to live on campus in a rent-free dorm. Other amenities include a low-priced cafeteria and outdoor recreation facilities.
There is no tuition at 42 School. All admitted students attend the bootcamp for free.
It may sound too good to be true, but you really don’t have to pay a dime. The zero-tuition education was made possible by 42 School’s founder Xavier Niel, a French tech billionaire, who established the school in 2013 with a $100 million endowment. This endowment covers every student’s fees, provides students with free equipment, and carries other benefits.
No, you cannot use the GI Bill at 42 School. The school is free for veterans and civilians alike.
42 School offers students a software engineering program. This project-based course is different from more conventional bootcamps in that students don’t learn from instructors or pre-recorded lectures. Instead, students learn by selecting one of three paths and building their own curriculum from there.
The 42 School’s software engineering program is designed to teach students more than the bare minimum tools. Students focus on training themselves to be flexible learners for a fruitful, lifelong career in software engineering.
To that end, 42 focuses on a peer-to-peer learning model. Students engage with each other to think critically about coding problems and solve them as part of a team. By focusing on giving and receiving feedback, students deepen their understanding of the tools they’re using while also learning how to collaborate, which is one of the most important soft skills.
Despite the unorthodox structure, students still learn many useful tools. Students use a project-based framework to learn artificial intelligence, data analytics, cyber security, systems administration, and programming languages like C++. After laying a basic foundation, students pursue one of three main curricula: systems, algorithms, or graphics.
Because students construct their own learning path, 42 School graduates don’t always end up as software engineers. Many applicants go on to become UX designers, product managers, or other types of professionals. By acquiring knowledge on their own terms and as part of a community, students learn how to adapt to a fast-changing industry.
Because of its benefits, including its self-paced curriculum and tuition-free model, 42 School has a rigorous application process. The school is inundated with applications every year, having received more than 150,000 since it opened in 2013. Applicants are whittled down during the Piscine, 42 School’s introductory coding challenge.
Information about 42 School’s acceptance rate is not publicly available. To have a chance of earning one of the few available spots in a given cohort, you must first beat out a large group of your peers in the Piscine.
The application process for 42 School has four simple steps. Instead of getting to know you through interviews, the school starts the process with a Piscine.
While there is no formal interview, 42 School looks for five distinct traits in Piscine participants.
These traits let 42 School know you’ll take full advantage of its program once the admissions process is complete.
Because of 42 School’s Piscine process, no preparation is necessary before applying to the program. The school only requires students to know how to use a keyboard and mouse. If you’re interested in more structured preparation, you may choose to learn C and other object-oriented programming languages before the Piscine.
If you think you have what it takes to make it into the program, 42 School is worth it.
When deciding whether the program is right for you, it’s important to keep in mind that the program requires years of commitment on a self-paced schedule. If you’re willing to commit, you can tailor it to your desires. Whether you’re interested in becoming a data scientist, a web developer, or a machine learning engineer, 42 School will have something for you.
Because 42 School students design their own learning paths, it is hard to generalize about job placement. That being said, most students find themselves job-ready after 10 months of study at 42 School. Alumni have gone on to work for a number of large companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Uber.
No, 42 School does not offer a job guarantee. It does, however, help students network with potential employers through its internship programs. Students are required to complete a four-to-six-month internship as part of their training. They are also encouraged to apply to two other internships, including a six-month internship at the end of the program.
You should apply to 42 School if you want to attend a school that does things differently. This bootcamp’s unique model can be challenging because of its heavy reliance on self-motivation. But it’s gotten praise from tech leaders at companies like Snapchat, Facebook, Slack, Stack Overflow, and more.
If you think you have the passion, creativity, and flexibility for a self-guided, one-of-a-kind program, you should give 42 School a shot.
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Hi there, I can only comment on the “Piscine” intensive basic training program. It is indeed very intensive. It is also very social. I spent about 100 hrs a week in the lab and lived on campus (almost necessary to pass… don’t go if you can’t get into the dorms, even if you live in the area.)
The program is entirely self- and peer-taught. You are given assignments 7 days a week and expected to complete them using online resources and the people in the room.
I took to the experience really well, but I’d already had a solid foundation in programming Python. People without any programming experience might be overwhelmed. Overall, the most intense and rewarding programming experience I’ve ever had.
April 3, 2018
I currently attend 42 School @ Silicon Valley and I can’t speak highly enough about my experience. I attended the 30 intensive program in March and continued to the 3-5 year program starting in mid-April. The curriculum is self-paced and dependent on peer-to-peer learning, so it may not be a great match for those who learn best in very structured environments. For those of us who learn best by doing, the curriculum is exceptionally well designed.
The only negative I can think of is that the school is very new and therefore things are constantly influx. The school rules are not always clear, and are not always enforced consistently, but the administration is fair and thoughtful, which to me is more important.
The school is free to attend, and even the dorms are free as long as you keep up with the curriculum. The community here is great, and it’s the ideal place for networking. Highly recommended!
May 9, 2018
Right from the start, it is prudent to commit the majority of your time to staying in the lab. I personally spent approximately 90 hours a week. Some people needed less time, and some needed more. There are something like 200-300 students present at the start of the Piscine, and most people will learn at a different pace. However, it is fairly easy to make friends and find learning partners, and it is entirely necessary if you want to get the most out of your first month here.
After finishing the piscine, if you’ve put in enough work/time, you will have hopefully been accepted into the full-time program! Unlike the Piscine, the full-time program is at your own pace (unless you live in the dorms). The curriculum is expansive and allows you to choose your own path between several different branches, including: Graphic Design, Algorithms, Object-Oriented Programming, Unix, Web-Development, and more! There is always something to do.
TL;DR: Free does not translate to easy
Tips for the Piscine: Spend as much time as you can in the lab. Talk to your peers and ask them for help if you need it! Use google if that fails!
Tips for the full-time program: Stay consistent. Motivation comes and goes.
May 13, 2018
I’m going to give you a 100% honest review of this school, not from the perspective of a someone who failed and gave up, but from the perspective of failing, and then getting in.
DO NOT COPY…..without understanding. That is THE Biggest thing I can tell you to help you through this entire program, even the Piscine.
Is just as brutal as they let it on to be. You are constantly bombarded with projects and tasks, and honestly, the purpose of this is to get you accustomed to a routine of intensive programming, problem solving, and self evaluation. You WILL Fail multiple days from their Very rigorous testing software. They want you to develop accurate, and real world testing. The norm and the way the code is built is difficult, not going to sugarcoat it. It almost seems pointless, but as the course suggests, you do research and you find out that other companies have norms and software writing standards. The norm here is INTENTIONALLY OVERLY Complicated to train you do be able to adapt to any software architecture. This is painfully obvious, and anyone complaining about anything I have said so far, does not posess the courage. This is just the Piscine.
I failed once and came back two months later after seriously studying and caring, and got in.
CADET LIFE (FULL PROGRAM)
Not easier as far as project difficulties AT ALL, in fact, the only thing that is easy, is that they ease up and you only have to maintain a level a month (1-2 projects every month) and 35 hours lab time minimum. The project tree is extensive, and every previous project builds on the latter in magnificent ways. The way you learn here, makes you really question why this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars elsewhere. Typical schooling here IN America teaches you to skim and find an answer, NOT actually understand why the answers is what it is. 42 DOES THIS AND EXCELS.
This is the only time you’ll hear me reference this in this posting, but you get what you pay for with the dorms lol. Our maintence man isn’t the best at all, I still have an AC that hasn’t been fixed, but I had to man up an get a fan. Don’t come here to get babies, come here to actually learn and push through to get to the goal. 99% of people who get to level 9, or last for 8+ months, get jobs. And I means everyone. Someone in my first Piscine just got a job at a 3D audio company, and that’s just one of many. He has been here for 5 months and has no degree, just the thirst for knowledge.
Come here to learn and grow. Then you will succeed without a doubt!
August 18, 2018
If you’re thinking about joining 42 I’m not going to flat out tell you to avoid it, but I will tell you to read all of this so you aren’t going in blind.
If you get accepted for the Picine you will code for 26-ish days. You’ll be learning terminal commands for the first two days and then it will be nothing but C. They give you problem sets that cover everything you really need to know about C. It’s brutal in its workload and grading, but they don’t expect anyone to ace it, they just want you to learn and grow. I have no issue with this part as it’s very effective in weeding out the people that aren’t made for it. The reason I gave it one star is what came after.
Like I said, the Picine covers almost every topic that really matters in C, so you’d think that after the Picine you’d be allowed to submit projects in a different language – a marketable language. The marketing material (at the time I went to 42) certainly gave that impression. Nope, you’re still coding in C. And on top of that, you’re still having to code using their style guide that doesn’t even allow switches or for loops. It got so bad that I found myself writing terrible code, that was a nightmare to debug, simply because I had to make everything conform to the “norm.” It honestly almost encourages bad coding practices, though they swear it’s better that way.
If you try to have a reasonable conversation about the fact that C is not a language that many companies hire for they will say it’s not about getting jobs, it’s about becoming the best programmer possible. If you try to tell them that the “norm” promotes bad coding practices they will say it exists to make it more challenging, thus making you a better programmer. It is mind-numbingly infuriating.
My recommendation to anyone that goes to 42 is to take CS50X (it’s free) before going so you don’t burn a lot of time during the Picine, but you’ll also become very good at coding in C. Then if you get into the program literally get the minimum requirements out of the way in order to stay in the dorms rent free and spend the rest of your time teaching yourself how to code in a language more marketable than C.
Of note, they have a C++ Picine you can take once you’ve reached level 7. So teach yourself C++ at some point so you can “pay rent” with the points you get from completing the C++ Picine.
Oh, and don’t expect them to be a good source for jobs. The job fairs are literally such a joke that it was painful to attend. Do not expect them to be able to help you get a job. Make interesting things in the language of your choosing and use that for job interviews, because 42 isn’t going to give you projects that will impress a potential employer.
August 19, 2018
I was a student at 42 for over half a year (around 7 months total). I am a student with Autism, and was having mental health problems which were greatly precipitated by the harrassment I experienced there from other students. Utlimately, I was basicallly kicked out of 42. The school took me to court to evict me, and I was even assualted by some of the students who were harrassing me during this time. At no point did they specify why I was being kicked out, other than claiming that I had broken rules, without ever giving any specifics about the rules that I broke. I really do feel that I was descriminated against on the basis of my dissability. Either way, I came to 42 looking to start a career in programming and advance my career, and ended up with an eviction on my record and homeless. Everyone in the program cheats their way through, and the program doesn’t really help you to actually learn actual knowledge about programming. If you want to come hang out with a bunch of bros who barely graduated from high school and smoke weed all day, then this is the school for you. The dorm is filled with people running drug dealing and prositution schemes. There are no teachers. There is no structure. There are other students, who are fighting each other for power, some of whom have taken on leadership roles and who use this to take out other students who they don’t like. I am far from the first neuroatypical person who they have decided to kick out. The school is rife with mental health issues, which the school deals with by eviction and expelling said students if it ever gets to the point that they either attempt suicide (in the case of another student they kicked out), etc. The environment itself absolutely fosters mental health problems in the students, through bizarre cult-like hazing, high stress for no reason, and tribal attitudes towards basically everything.
August 20, 2018
honestly, don’t waste your time. You get what you paid for. In this case you are paying with your precious time to get frustrated, confused and wasted.
September 9, 2018
I’m now an alumni of the 42 Paris School. I started the test called the piscine in March 2017 knowing nothing about programming. 1 year later I started receiving so many interesting job offers that I didn’t need to finish the program.
This school not only teaches you how to program, it gives you all the tools to learn by yourself and build your network (The events in the school and partners in Paris are amazing). At the end you will have the best technical skills for programming and/or starting your business.
However the way the school operates is not tailored for everyone. You MUST be highly motivated. If you are ready for days and nights of coding, then the school will make you a skilled developer, faster than any other school. Indeed you can work 7d/d, even for vacation, and you’re not stuck with the other students pace.
Other reviews are saying you can’t develop in other languages than C. This is not true, you can do it once you have a sufficient level in C. And believe me, C may seems boring/old at first, but this is the best way to really understand how it works. If you simply need the basics to make websites or simple programs, then maybe this formation is too much for you. You have the possibility to stop at the beginning after the first projects, but the school aims for highly skilled developers. Learning how to code is easy, learning how to PROPERLY code is harder, and this school pushes to toward that.
In short, the school is as good as your motivation. If only YOU have the right mindset, then the results will be excellent and fast.
June 20, 2019