Thinkful is an online learning platform that falls more into the category of a coding bootcamp. This platform was founded in 2012 and is based in New York. At any given time the camp teaches roughly 7,000 students.
Their learners can choose between seven different online courses that are all backed with a tuition reimbursement guarantee as well as a guaranteed job at the end of the camp. We will discuss these in further detail later in our review of Thinkful.
Thinkful also boasts a 92% satisfaction rate on review sites, something other bootcamps struggle to match.
Ready to find out if Thinkful is right for you? In this Thinkful review, we will tell you everything you need to know.
What is Thinkful?
Thinkful offers quality education in a lot of areas of technology that some other coding boot camps would leave off the table, such as product management.
The platform focuses on the one-on-one mentoring program and that’s a good thing – this is generally a weak point of other online coding boot camps. However, it appears that they could use some quality control in how they choose their mentors, with many reviews citing poor mentorship as the biggest downfall of the course.
A unique feature of Thinkful is the use of a stipend that gives students a monthly income while completing the course. This is also something that very few, if any, other coding boot camps offer and for many students could be a dealbreaker.
Probably the biggest benefit of Thinkful is the effort the platform puts into making sure you have the best career coaching, setting up mock interviews, test questions, and one-on-one mentorship for this part of your education specifically.
Who is Thinkful For?
This platform is specifically designed for people who want to make a career in the world of computer science and acquire the technical skills needed to do so. Thinkful does not at all lend itself to being good for hobbyists, given the price.
Students most likely to benefit from Thinkful have interests in topics like software engineering, digital marketing, and data science to name just a few things.
Thinkful is good for both a complete beginner and for someone with a little knowledge in the field looking to bolster their resume. Some students who were in the field before attending Thinkful have reported an increase in annual earnings of around $20,000.
Also, there is a fair amount of communication on the platform both with other students and your mentorship. If a student prefers a more introverted approach to learning this likely is not the platform for them.
How does Thinkful work?
Thinkful is a very structured and straightforward platform to use, especially in comparison to a lot of other online learning platforms out there. Because it is an online bootcamp, you won’t notice as much flexibility in the studying process or any individual program.
Their platform is very easy to navigate, and not just for people that are already web developers. Going to their site gives you a chance to browse through the curriculum, but seeing a full course is going to require you to submit your email.
You should have an idea of what you want to get out of Thinkful before you get onto the platform. This way you can see what Thinkful offers to get you to your goals.
Once you select a course you’ll take a look at their pricing options and decide what kind of workload you can handle, whether it be full-time or part-time, which will dictate the cost and timespan of your education.
Beginning your education is also different depending on whether you intend to be a full or part-time student. A full-time student will attend prep courses for their chosen field to ensure they have the knowledge base required to graduate.
From there you will continue your education with regular meetings with your mentor and peer-associated work. You’ll focus on building a portfolio and getting the real-world knowledge necessary to secure a job in your new field of work.
Features and Functionality
In general, one of the things most lacking from online learning is the ability to interact with a teacher at all. To address this, Thinkful has made it their mission to provide this for their students.
Each student will have access to a mentor that has years of experience in their field to guide them through the process. Not only for technical questions like how things work but also real-world hiring questions to get through an interview.
A quick disclaimer: there are qualifications you must meet to have access to their tuition reimbursement. One of these is that you must live in, or be willing to relocate to, a “qualified city”, typically major metropolitan areas like New York or Pittsburgh.
If you do qualify, though, you can’t go wrong with this. Either you get a job within six months of graduating from their course or you get all your money back. They even go so far as to stipulate it must be a job where you earn at least $40,000 per year.
This can help to lessen the sting of forking out potentially $19,000 on an education that isn’t from an actual college.
ISA/Deferred Tuition Assistance
Thinkful offers opportunities for people to gain access to their curriculum without having to pay money upfront. This is in the form of either an ISA or a deferred tuition plan.
The difference between the two is that an ISA (income sharing agreement) is tied to your income, with around 15% of it going back to Thinkful, while deferred tuition is a set rate with interest instead.
Both of these options have the potential to pay off your education after you complete the program and secure a job. Since the cost of education at Thinkful is relatively high, it can open the platform up to people who may not normally be able to afford it.
The whole reason you take a course from Thinkful is to land a job or secure a better position in your current industry. Unfortunately, many coding boot camps don’t prepare you for this part of the process.
Thinkful does a great job at getting their students ready for the job search. They supply mentors that help coach you in the interview process.
The platform even goes so far as to conduct mock interviews to give you a confidence boost. If you look at student testimonials, this is one of the most frequently mentioned features that helped learners land jobs.
Thinkful Pricing Model
Thinkful’s pricing is probably the most confusing part of the entire system, mostly because the cost varies so greatly depending on everything from course type to workload.
To keep things simple, we’ll go over the course on Technical Product Management as an example. The format is similar for each of the courses so it should give you a good idea of what to expect for each of them without getting into exact prices and the different ways to pay for each course.
Also, before we get into things, it is worth noting that there are scholarship programs available for those that qualify to lessen the cost of schooling.
You may either pay for a course upfront or take advantage of one of Thinkfuls financing options. Both prices will be different depending on your full or part-time status.
For instance, this course’s upfront cost is $9,000 for full-time and $4,900 for part-time.
Conversely, you may choose to pay for it monthly but it will cost you more in the long run. Such as the $3,333 per month or $1,240 per month for full and part-time respectively with our example course.
Thinkful also offers a loan through Ascent to pay for the tuition. This cost is going to vary based on your credit scores but on their site for this course it would end up costing you $10,000 or $6,200 as an example.
Another way of paying for schooling on Thinkful is through an ISA or Income Sharing Agreement. This option is only available for full-time students, but it means that when you get your job after you have graduated a portion of your money will go back to Thinkful.
In this example it would be 15% of your earnings, which is to be paid monthly, This would happen for the first three years of your employment as long as you land a job making over $40,000 per year.
A subset of this option is with the inclusion of a monthly stipend. Thinkful allows you to take the course free of charge and give you $1,500 per month to cover any expenses and allow you to focus on learning.
This way you end up paying that 15% of your earnings for an additional year, totaling four years.
The final, and newest, way to pay for Thinkful is through their “Deferred Tuition” program. This is similar to the ISA but you won’t have a payment tied to your income, instead, it will be a fixed amount.
You’ll begin payments after you get a job, at a fixed rate with interest until your tuition is paid off. An estimate for this course is $188 per month and a total cost of $6,768.
Support is arguably Thinkfuls most prominent feature that it offers to its students. You will meet regularly with a mentor that can help you through difficult pieces of the course. After graduation, you have access to intensive career guidance to ensure you make the most of your new education.
If you are having technical issues with the course, you can reach out to your course advisor or email someone at Thinkful directly. Their technical support does seem to be one of the failings of their system if you read some reviews though.
The Advantages (Pros) of Thinkful
Below are some of the biggest advantages of using Thinkful.
Not only do you build a strong relationship with a mentor on this platform, but you will also have access to the Slack community formed around the Thinkful learning process. It can be very helpful for new people learning to code to be able to talk about their difficulties instead of just reading about them.
Because Thinkful has so many students and mentors the Slack community is almost always going to have someone there to answer questions regardless of your time zone.
Simulates Real School
A major downfall of online learning platforms is the inability to engage students the way traditional education does. Thinkful attempts to bridge this gap with the inclusion of daily live workshops that are mandatory in their full-time course loads.
This allows students to ask questions and formulate discussion points in real-time. This feature is not available for those that choose to take a part-time course as it wouldn’t be possible to schedule the seminars to meet everyone’s needs.
Something you might notice about Thinkful is the small number of courses that it offers on its platform. In comparison to other online learning sites like Udemy or Coursera. Thinkful takes an extremely specialized approach in their system.
Because of this, you get a lot of quality and information packed into these courses. Remember that they are designed to be everything someone would need to get a job in that role after they graduate.
Easy to Use
Thinkful is a very easy platform to use and get started with. They offer very few decisions that have to be made right out of the gate, which keeps from overwhelming the student in the very beginning.
And the generalization of their courses assists in narrowing down what few choices you have to make as well. For example, if you would like to learn how to build applications then go for software engineering, you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into anything specific.
The Disadvantages (Cons) of Thinkful
These are the biggest disadvantages of using this online learning platform.
Lacking Some Topics
While Thinkful covers a wide swathe of the tech industry with its courses, there are a few that are notably missing from the curriculum. Machine learning is a very quickly growing part of technology and there isn’t a specific course for it anywhere on the site.
There also isn’t anything on cybersecurity, which is one of the fastest-growing careers in the country. These topics being left off the site is concerning for a company that seems to pride itself in fulfilling both the needs of students and the industry itself.
Thinkful is an extremely expensive platform, especially if you compare it to other learning platforms like Coursera. But even compared to other coding boot camps Thinkful can end up costing you thousands of dollars extra.
Whether or not you get more value for that extra cost is up for debate. Other coding boot camps offer job guarantees and tuition reimbursement. So really you have to weigh how much stock you put into good reviews and if one on one teaching is worth it to you.
Some Poor Mentors
While the best feature of Thinkful is the mentors, its worst feature can also be the mentors. Because so much of the experience revolves around having good communication and feedback from your mentor it can be detrimental if you have a bad one.
Because Thinkful has so many mentors, over 500, it seems it is difficult for the company to keep track of all of their activities with the students. Some reviews have stated that their mentors were not suited for the tasks.
Most mentors are probably great, but knowing there isn’t too much quality control in this regard is a bit concerning.
Not sure that Thinkful is right for you? Here are some alternatives to consider.
FreeCodeCamp has been around for a while now, and what started as one guy trying to teach people to code has blossomed into an amazing community. This site can give you everything you need to know about web development, and it is completely free.
The community is incredible and people are always willing to help you when you struggle. While they don’t have any guarantees, you can see by the testimonials that students do get jobs from just this program alone.
There isn’t one on one teaching, or even instructors, everything is text-based and structured in a syllabus. Their built-in code evaluator lets you know when you’ve done something wrong and allows you to pass to the next topic when you’ve completed the tasks.
If you are looking for a free way to get started in code FreeCodeCamp is a wonderful place to set up shop.
Udacity isn’t technically a coding boot camp, they are more similar to platforms like Udemy but with much better quality control. Udacity hosts courses from Robotics to Front-end development both in small courses and full certification courses called nano degrees.
Similar to Thinkful, some of Udacity’s courses offer job placement, usually only in more demand areas like full stack developer and software engineer.
They also partner with massive tech companies like Google and Tesla, who help design the courses in android development and self-driving car technologies.
Their courses are often much more affordable than Thinkful and have excellent quality. But they lack the one-on-one mentoring that Thinkful offers unless you enroll in a nanodegree program.
Springboard is very similar to Thinkful in many aspects. They both offer one on one mentoring and a job guarantee. Springboard does offer one benefit in that their most expensive course tops out at $8,500 as opposed to Thinkful’s $18,500.
Springboard also offers a very similar curriculum to Thinkful similar topics include software engineering data science and UX/UI design. A lot of their courses also offer a job guarantee similar to Thinkful.
The courses are designed to be completed within six to nine months depending on your workload but they require fewer weekly hours than Thinkful’s do. They do not have different course prices for full and part-time students either.
If you are someone with very limited time, Springboard might be the better option between the two platforms.
App Academy is one of the most well-respected coding boot camps on the market today, graduating from their program is looked upon highly in hiring circles. Like Thinkful they have high prices, their full-stack web development course is $20,000.
They also have a free course called App Academy Open, which gives you access to everything App Academy has on full-stack development. If you want access to very high-quality schooling at no cost then you should look no further.
Their paid course is 24 weeks long for the online version and 16 weeks for in-person learning. The in-person learning is offered both in San Francisco and New York City.
App Academy does not offer a job guarantee but they do give career assistance toward the end of their courses. This could be a letdown for those wanting the guarantee, but App Academy’s track record speaks for itself.
According to the statistics, App Academy landed more students jobs at Google than UC Berkeley in 2016. Regardless of if you pay for the course or attend the free option, you will be getting excellent content to learn from.
Overall, Thinkful is a solid learning platform that a lot of aspiring students have found a benefit from. However, the platform is one of the most expensive, and whether that cost is worth it for you is going to be a personal decision.
Choosing Thinkful is going to come down to a matter of cost and time. If you have the extra money to put into this education and the extra time to be able to complete a full-time workload, Thinkful may be the option for you. Hopefully, our review of Thinkful has proven to be helpful as you search for the ideal online learning platform for your needs!
Is Thinkful legit?
Yes is a legitimate company and you will receive an education for the money you pay them. There is also a tuition guarantee for those that qualify.
They also maintain the highest rating on CourseReport. A third-party site that grades coding boot camps on their overall teaching capabilities and student success rate.
Is Thinkful worth it?
This is entirely dependent on the individual’s situation. If you are looking to change careers into the tech industry, or bolster your skills to garner a pay raise it might be a good platform for you.
If coding or technology is a hobby for you, then it is most likely not worth the price. This is also not a good platform for someone who has limited time as the courses are quite intensive.
Is Thinkful accredited?
No, Thinkful is not accredited. You cannot receive a “real” degree from Thinkful.
The only thing you receive from Thinkful is their certification when you graduate and their job guarantees if you qualify.
It is worth pointing out that in the tech industry it is less necessary to have a degree than proof of the practical skills your job would need. Thinkful provides this proof in the form of your portfolio, which by the end of your education should be filled with completed projects.
What courses are offered at Thinkful?
Thinkful offers 7 different courses to choose from. Some have both a full and part-time option when you sign up which changes the course duration and overall price. The following is a list of all the course topics:
- Software Engineering – Full and part-time
- Date Science – Full and part-time
- Data Analytics – Full and part-time
- UX/UI Design – Full and part-time
- Digital Marketing – Full and part-time
- Product Management – Part-time only
- Technical Project Management – Full and part-time
How much does Thinkful cost?
Thinkful’s cost is going to depend on which course you take, which workload you prefer, and how you intend to pay for the program. Paying things off after you graduate through an ISA or getting one of their loans is going to cost you more in the long run.
Here we will list the courses and both their full and part-time costs if you pay upfront to give you an idea of what you are looking at.
- Software Engineering – Full-time:$16,000 Part-time: $7,900
- Data Science – Full-time:$18,500 Part-time: $7,900
- Data Analytics – Full-time: $12,250 Part-time: $6,500
- UX/UI Design – Full-time: $12,150 Part-time: $7,900
- Digital Marketing – Full-time: $7,500 Part-time: $4,900
- Product Management – Part-time: $4,900
- Technical Project Management – Full-time: $9,000 Part-time: $4,900
Does Thinkful Offer a Job Guarantee?
Yes, Thinkful does offer a job guarantee upon completion of their program. If you don’t get a job within 6 months of graduation with an annual income of $40,000 or more your education cost is refunded.
There are stipulations such as having to live or be willing to relocate to a major city. You also must complete the course within the allotted time frame to qualify for the guarantee.