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Why Pay For School? November 21, 2017

At Rithm, we recently released three new online courses on our website: Intermediate React.js, Flask and SQL Fundamentals, and Intermediate Flask. No other coding school that we’re aware of has released so much of its curriculum online at absolutely no cost. We also recently released a course on Udemy that covers a lot of intermediate and advanced material for aspiring web developers.

At the same time, we continue to offer a full-time paid immersive program here in San Francisco. To some, these two activities -- offering free curriculum online along with paid courses in-person -- can seem incompatible. Why charge for classes when so much of the content being taught is free?

fancy dollar bill

This isn’t a question unique to our model of education. In the 21st century, questions are often a Google search away from being answered. But in spite of this new reality, there are a number of advantages to learning in a classroom full of other people and led by experienced teachers. In this post, I’d like to briefly highlight four of these advantages.

1. Accelerated learning

With a well-organized curriculum and a healthy dose of self-motivation, you can probably learn anything you set your mind to. However, learning on your own often means learning in fits and starts. It can be hard to maintain a consistent schedule, and because you’re on your own, it can be hard to quickly get the help you need when you get stuck.

Here’s where learning in class can offer a huge advantage. When you’re learning with other people at the same times every day, it’s much easier to develop a routine. And when you’re working with experienced instructors and motivated peers, you’re naturally going to learn much faster than you would on your own.

2. Community

Learning is a social activity. When you’re in the classroom, you’re not just learning from a teacher. You’re learning from your classmates, through both planned and spontaneous interactions. You’re explaining your reasoning, asking questions of your peers, and working together to become better. While this interaction can happen online as well, it’s much more robust in person.

But don’t believe us. Check out this article from the Stanford University School of Education: [Learning From Others: Learning in a Social Context](https://www.learner.org/courses/learningclassroom/support/07learn_context.pdf)_. The discussion isn’t about adult education specifically, but much of it still rings true.

3. Accountability

This is related to accelerated learning but deserves its own mention. When you’re learning online and at your own pace, holding yourself accountable to deadlines can be a challenge. Learning as part of an in-person community forces you to be accountable for your own learning, for the sake of both your teachers and your peers.

4. Real-World Experience

This one is a little more specific to programs like Rithm’s. When it comes to technical fields, becoming job-ready is only partially about the content. It’s also about acclimating to the conventions of the larger community. This comes from working with people who have experience in the field, and from contributing to existing projects.

This is why we value company projects so highly at Rithm. By giving students four weeks to contribute to production codebases, they learn an incredible amount about collaboration, reading unfamiliar codebases, and picking up new technologies. It’s an approximation to what the workplace will be like, but it’s a much closer approximation than we could ever provide online.


In short, our curriculum isn’t proprietary because it doesn’t need to be. The information is already out there, for anyone driven to find it. But our in-person classes provide something that you can’t get by reading articles online. People who come to Rithm learn quickly, contribute to our community, hold one another accountable, and gain valuable real-world experience.

Want to learn more about our program? You can find details here.

Written by Matt Matt

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