Mondays are a special day at Covalence.
It's always refreshing to start a new week after a (hopefully) restful weekend, and every Monday, we kick things off with a casual team meeting where at least one of us is usually making coffee while we chat around the virtual water-cooler. Then, after we hit the high points of what our work has in store for each of us that week, we hit the ground running.
That's every Monday, but it's not really the reason they're special to us.
The reason Mondays are special is because they're the day we designate for Catalyst students to officially enroll in our Full Stack Development bootcamp, and that's a special day indeed.
You see, we're not pushing people into arbitrary enrollment deadlines to create a sense of FOMO, and we're not trying to fill up classrooms (either online or in-person) with sales quotas to put butts in seats over here. For one thing, we're fully online and remote, so you can pick your own seat, anywhere in the world. For another, we're not playing the same game as all the other bootcamps or colleges you could choose instead of Covalence.
A few years ago, we decided that we could play another game altogether – and we surmised that game would yield far better results for our students than "scaling our operations" with dozens of locations, sales teams, call centers, bogus scholarships, and phony job guarantees ever could.
Sure, this strategy may not enable us to ever have the "largest market share in our segment" or create the "most efficient admissions pipeline to maximize our ROI and minimize CACs for our students" – and we certainly don't make the rounds of headlines in the press, TV interviews, or even break record enrollments year-over-year while our tuition reaches all-new, never-before-seen heights – but we're not at war; we're at school.
We could see our "competitors" at war, and it seemed like they were somewhat successful at all of those things from the outside looking in.
Good for them. We wish them well.
But from the inside looking out, we could also see our students.
We knew how well-equipped they were to maneuver the next stage of their careers after graduating from Covalence, and from time to time, we heard from our competitors' students (either after the fact – or after they decided to enroll in Covalence instead). And that's when we decided that we had an opportunity to think differently. Work differently. Serve differently, and ultimately succeed differently.
We ditched cohorts and created a personalized admissions process for every person. When it's completed, they can enroll on the following Monday.
We eschewed phony "job guarantees" that were designed as a clever marketing gimmick to convey minimized risk for students, but you realize when you read the fine print, they're actually a safety net for the guarantor – not the one banking on the guarantee (the student).
We tossed the slideshows and ad hoc lectures and created our own video-based curriculum and walkthroughs (with mastery-based lab assignments) that could be completed anywhere at anytime, and that freed up our full-time instructors to actually teach, mentor, and help students when they needed it the most.
You won't find newly hired teaching assistants floundering for answers because they were rushed through a program that graduated a week before you enrolled. Our instructors have been with us for years, and our students aren't rushed through anything.
We do all of this because we accept the fact that each student is different. They come to us from different walks of life with different backgrounds, past knowledge, skill sets, and ability, but they all want to achieve something unique after this type of program in their own way. They all come to us trusting that we can provide the service and education we say that we can that will ultimately help them achieve their goals in the pursuit of a better life.
That's not an easy ask, but it's the ask nonetheless.
So, we hold ourselves to this higher standard not because we're guaranteeing them anything, but because we're promising the best learning experience we can deliver to each student with the belief that when we do, they'll be some of the best-equipped entry-level developers on the market, developed in record time.
We don't talk about our students as if they're "customers" – we treat them like people, and we call them by their name. We don't talk about "capturing market share" or "acquiring users" because, again, we're not at war; we're at school – a school that puts our students first, because they're putting their time, money, trust and faith in us to deliver on what we promise to them:
Changing one life at a time through technical immersive education.
That journey, for all of our immersive program students, starts on Mondays.
So on any given Monday, when a new Catalyst student starts their learning experience with us, we don't treat them like one-amongst-many or livestock to be corralled; they're treated as if they're our only priority with industry-leading student-to-instructor ratios and an unmatched personalized experience for however long they learn with us. They learn from someone that remembers what it's like to have been in their shoes – not yesterday, but years ago – and they're following a path that's designed not for our success, but theirs.
It's exciting for us because while each student may not realize it yet, we know that after the fateful Monday they enroll, the rest of their life will never be the same.
It's a special day, indeed.
We aren't as big as our competitors. We can't out-spend them on Google or Facebook ads; never have. We can't bribe good reviews on third-party review sites, either. We can't seem bigger or more important than we are with a massive headcount; we only have four full-time team members (plus a few auxiliary contractors and vendors that help us focus on what matters most). We don't offer a dizzying amount of courses and programs in underwater basketweaving; we stick with what we're experts in already – and we refine that like a fine wine over time.
If I had a nickel for the number of times a recent college or bootcamp graduate has told me, "I wish I had known about you guys before...", I'd have enough nickels to buy out our competitors.
I'd like to say they're just behind the curve, but I fear it's because they're playing a different game altogether – and their priorities aren't the same as ours.
They must not care as much about Mondays.
If you're interested, learn more about our Catalyst Full Stack Development bootcamp here. We'd love for you to join the community on a Monday sometime soon.
For everyone else, if you've read this far, we only ask for one thing: your support, and you can do that in whatever way makes you happy.
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And the next time you hear someone say, "I've been thinking about learning to code/joining a bootcamp/going to college", keep this small, Birmingham-based company in mind. You might just save them years worth of time, thousands of dollars, and change their life.