Letter from Austen Allred, CEO & Cofounder
We started Lambda School over 3 years ago to give people a lower-risk path to rewarding, well-paying careers. Since the beginning, the foundation of Lambda School’s educational model is the alignment of incentives – if our students aren’t successful, neither are we.
As much as we talk about it, and as synonymous as Lambda School has become with Income Share Agreements (one form of incentive-aligned education), the student impact of incentive-aligned education remains insufficiently understood and dramatically under appreciated.
The common narrative is that “if you go to college, you’ll get a good job.” And yet, when you look at the numbers, the odds of success for the typical freshman entering college are frighteningly low. To take one example, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the graduation rate of students who entered four-year US colleges as of 2012 was 43.7%. Think about that – almost half of all the students entering college each year will not earn a bachelor’s degree in 4 years despite all the tuition they owe – and therefore can’t leverage a diploma to get a good job.
We designed Lambda School to share that risk with our students because we believe that if an institution fails to properly prepare its graduates for employment, those graduates shouldn’t be obligated to pay tuition.
Part of being an incentive-aligned institution means having transparency, consistency, and accountability around student outcomes. Our goal is that after examining this Outcomes report, potential students should be able to answer the following question: If I put in the work and effort, how likely is it that I’ll be successful in getting a job?
To ensure that we achieve our reporting goals with this report we are proud to be working for the first time with The MFA Companies
, an accounting, audit, and advisory firm. They performed an examination of our H2 2019 outcomes data, and you can view their independent accountant’s report in the official report.
We plan to continue reporting on student outcomes regularly, and hope to continuously improve the report based on the feedback we receive. We believe that incentive-aligned education is the future of education and hope this report demonstrates the progress we’re making, even in these extraordinarily difficult times.
— Austen Allred | Lambda School CEO & Cofounder
The Lambda Model | How It Works
Lambda School is a remote, interactive experience, with two intensive program schedules students can choose from: full-time, 40+ hours per week with approximately six months of coursework; and part-time, 15+ hours per week for approximately 12 months. As a part of our mission to make great education available to anyone we designed our programs to be accessible regardless of location, family responsibilities, or access to transportation.
Our program curriculum is designed with input from real hiring managers. We asked dozens of employers what specific skills they look for in candidates, and then designed our programs with learning activities that help students master these skills, including labs where students have the opportunity to build and ship real products.
Experienced software engineers and data scientists lead our curriculum development and class instruction. When hiring instructors, we look for the right mix of technical acumen, teaching ability, and real-world experience to ensure that our students get the mentorship they need to succeed in tech.
Our curriculum includes project-based work to give students real-world experience. Every fourth “sprint” (one week for full-time students, two weeks for part-time) in units 2-4 is a “build sprint,” in which students hone their technical skills and develop critical team skills. In addition, at the end of the program, students participate in Lambda Labs, an in-house apprenticeship program where students gain practical, real-world work experience.
Students have access to on-demand support from their career coach, instructors, industry mentors, and other students throughout their Lambda School experience, in addition to free mental health services from our health partners.
Every student has the opportunity to give and receive mentorship throughout the program. Through the new Lambda Leadership program, we’re building a culture of mentorship that gives every student the opportunity to give and receive feedback, build leadership skills, and learn to explain technical concepts in simple terms, which are vital skills for success in the workplace.
Community, Support & Services: Students have access to support and services throughout their Lambda School experience, including free mental health support from our health partners. Our mentoring and alumni programs, as well as special-interest Slack channels and virtual meetups, keep our Lambda community connected.
Starting in unit 1, every student is introduced to our career preparation curriculum and has access to online office hours hosted by Lambda’s expert career coaches, whom they’ll work with until they are placed in their first job. Students also complete assignments to help prepare them for the job search, including resume building, networking prep, and mock interviews. In addition, we offer an industry mentorship program in which each student is paired with a professional in their field, who can provide career guidance and networking opportunities.
When it comes time to place students in jobs, we work with companies who need fresh talent across the country to create pipelines for our graduates to get hired. Our career placement experts are in continual discussions with employers to understand their talent needs and share how our students have the hands-on practice, theory, and personal determination to make them prepared, skilled, and tenacious employees.
We started Lambda School with one overarching goal: to align the incentives of Lambda School with the incentives of the student. We want to share the risk of completing a program and searching for a job with our students. We believe all students deserve the downside protection that incentive-aligned education brings. To this end, Lambda School currently offers ISAs, so our students only repay tuition when they land a job making at least the monthly equivalent of earning $50,000 per year. This means the company can succeed only if our students succeed.
Students who choose the ISA payment option agree to pay 17% of their post-Lambda School salary for 24 months. We’ve built several protections for students into our ISA. For example, students only begin making payments if they’re earning at least the monthly equivalent of earning $50,000 per year (payments are calculated monthly). The ISA is also capped at a maximum repayment amount of $30,000.
Crucially, if a student’s income in a given month drops below the monthly equivalent of earning $50,000 per year, payments are paused. Once a student has reached 5 years’ worth of paused payments, the ISA is then cancelled, regardless of how much the student has paid to date. This downside protection is automatically built into our ISAs, unlike the student loans from typical universities.
Tuition financing options, including ISAs, that align the incentives of the school with the incentives of the student are not only fair, they also have the potential for a measurable impact on a student’s net worth over their lifetime.
Per the Summer 2019 NACE Salary Survey the average income of a recent college graduate after four or more years earning a bachelor's degree in 2019 was $50,944. Per The Institute for College Access & Success the average student debt of recent college graduates regardless of their starting salaries in the same year was $28,950.
As an example, if you make the following assumptions:
• A university student takes 4 years to graduate
• A Lambda graduate earns our median annualized salary from this report ($65,000) upon graduation
• A Lambda graduate makes their ISA payments successfully to term (i.e. 24 months)
… then by the time that university student graduated, the Lambda student would have earned $65,000 annually during three of those years, and already have paid off their ISA.
At Lambda School we take on part of the financial risk of education for our students. Since our students come to us in order to get a better job, they only pay us once they have that job. Our students who don’t get jobs making at least the monthly equivalent of earning $50,000 per year never pay us anything. Regardless of all other outcomes, our students pay us only when they have a job.
We designed Lambda School to accommodate multiple pathways to graduation, rather than taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach – and that means that the length of time a student spends in the program can vary considerably, although the total coursework and tuition will, of course, remain the same for every student that is enrolled.
There are four aspects of our program that result in variable program lengths (within the same program) for our students:
Flexible: Mastery-based progression means that a student’s progress is based on their individual needs and pace. If someone needs to repeat a section to demonstrate mastery, they will do so. It’s not about checking boxes; it’s about making sure students master the skills they need to land and succeed in a job.
Team Lead Program: During H2 2019, we encouraged many of our students to apply to our Team Lead (TL) Program during their time at Lambda School. The TL Program was an optional, paid student leadership experience that gave students an opportunity to further their technical learning while gaining valuable leadership skills they’ll need throughout their career. Some students who were accepted as Team Leads chose to proceed with their Lambda School program concurrently, while others chose to pause their coursework to focus on their Team Lead responsibilities for a period of time. This program is currently being phased out, but was still part of our programs during H2 2019, which is why we’re mentioning it.
Hiatus Option: Lambda is designed to accommodate the “life happens” pause that some students may need, and we do allow students to go on “hiatus” on a case-by-case basis. These students’ ISA terms remain the same – they don’t make any payments until they get a job making at least the monthly equivalent of earning $50,000 per year.
Switching Between Full-Time and Part-Time: At times, we have students who request to switch from a full-time program to a part-time program. We often grant these change requests when they arise, as we understand that some students may need to maintain a job for financial stability while in school. On occasion, we also have students who are hired before their original anticipated graduation date, but who would like to finish the course material in our part-time program while engaged in their new jobs.
If a student falls under any of the above four possibilities, their actual graduation date will be later than their original anticipated graduation date when they started school. We purposefully designed our model to allow this type of flexibility, as we understand that each student will have different needs over the course of their educational experience.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
More than six months after our last outcomes report and eight months into a global pandemic, the world looks a lot different today. Educational institutions who have only ever offered a few, if any, online classes are now only offering online classes or a hybrid of on-campus and online courses. Unemployment rates have hit long-time highs – per McKinsey & Company in the five weeks ending April 18, 2020, 26 million Americans filed for unemployment – and work trends have drastically changed due to the new socially distant world.
Many of our students and alumni have grappled with the economic and health ramifications of the pandemic. The Lambda School H2 2019 Outcomes Report includes students whose original anticipated graduation date fell within H2 2019, and there is no doubt that the pandemic impacted the outcomes outlined herein. Many students had just begun or were in the midst of job searching when the pandemic initially hit; many students lost their jobs, had to take work outside of their fields, or took drastic pay-cuts.
We, as a company and educational institution, are doing everything in our power to help get our students and graduates back to where they should be –prospering in a new career. In the past few months, Lambda School has strategically updated curriculum and processes to incorporate more robust support for students beginning their job search with weekly networking touch points, behavioral mock interviews, and more extensive preparation for technical interviews. We are always taking in feedback and working to evolve to best support the needs of our students, and our hope is that these updates will help more students land high-paying careers on the other side of Lambda School.
Methodology | Additions & Updates
In our last outcomes report, we included four metrics that we believe are important for students to understand when evaluating a school like Lambda:
● Graduation rate: Of the starting students whose original anticipated graduation date is in H2 2019, what percentage of them actually graduated as of the reporting date?
● Job placement rate: Of the students whose actual graduation date was during H2 2019, what percent of them have been placed as of the reporting date?
● Time to placement: Of the graduated students whose actual graduation date was during H2 2019 and were job seeking, how many of them were Placed within X days of graduation?
● Salary expectations: What is the median annualized salary of placed students?
In this report we are now also including:
• Position Type: What types of positions are Lambda graduates placed into?
• Job Title: What are the job titles of placed Lambda graduates?
We’re also now breaking out the results by program (Full Stack Web, Data Science, and Other), and program type (Full-Time and Part-Time).
For our placement statistics we’re now excluding students who were not Job Seeking. A student who isn’t Job Seeking is defined as either Unresponsive, or No Longer Pursuing Intended Track. We made this change because we feel it best represents to potential students what their likelihood of getting a job would be at Lambda School if they completed all the required coursework and were actively engaged in a job search.
For our graduation statistics we’re now reporting on students who start Unit 2 (versus Unit 1). Unit 1 is financially risk-free to students (they can get a full refund at any time during Unit 1) therefore we felt that starting Unit 2 was a better benchmark for potential students to understand our results.
To complete our analysis for each of the above metrics, and similar to our previous report, we had to use distinct populations of students. See management assertions for details on the populations’ relationships.
H2 2019 Outcomes Data
Graduation Rate Addressable Population
The addressable population for the Graduation Rate is the 743 students whose Original Anticipated Graduation Date fell in H2 2019, the period from July 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019, regardless of when these students actually graduated.
This population of 743 students is then broken down into three categories:
• Those who withdrew from the program
• Those who are still enrolled at Lambda School, as of the Reporting Date
• Those who graduated
We designed the Lambda School model to accommodate multiple pathways to graduation, rather than taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach - and that means the program length can vary from one student to the next. There are several factors that can result in a student’s Actual Graduation Date being later than their Original Anticipated Graduation Date, such as repeating a unit, serving as a Team Lead, going on hiatus for personal reasons, or switching to a part-time program. We have purposefully designed our model to allow for this type of flexibility because we understand that each student has different needs over the course of their educational experience.
Graduation Rate Results
Graduation Rate by Program
Graduation Rate by Program Type
Job Placement Rate
Graduation Rate to Job Placement Rate Methodology
Our Job Placement Rate is calculated from the addressable population of students (743) whose Actual Graduation Date was during H2 2019 (516).
The addressable population of students (743) consist three unique groups:
• Students who graduated (516)
• Students who withdrew (202)
• Students who are still enrolled (25)
Of the 516 Students who graduated, they consist of three unique groups:
• Students who graduated in H2 2019 (300)
• Students who graduated before H2 2019 (2)
• Students who graduated after H2 2019 (214)
Of the 300 students whose Actual Graduation Date was in H2 2019 and who also had an Original Anticipated Graduation Date in H2 2019, we determined the number of Job-Seeking students in this population includes:
• Job Seeking Students (234)
• Non-Job Seeking and/or Unresponsive Students (66)
The Job Seeking Students of 234 were then adjusted for an additional 60 Job Seeking Students (excludes Non-JobSeeking and/or Unresponsive Students) who had an Original Anticipated Graduation Date before or after H2 2019 but who had an Actual Graduation Date in H2 2019 for a total of 294 Students in the Job Placement Rate Addressable Population.
These 60 students consist of two unique groups:
• Graduated in H2 2019, Original Anticipated Graduation before H2 2019 and Job Seeking (58)
• Graduated in H2 2019, Original Anticipated Graduation after H2 2019 and Job Seeking (2)
Job Placement Rate Addressable Population
The addressable population for the Job Placement Rate is the 294 students whose Actual Graduation Date was in H2 2019 and who were Job Seeking.
Job Placement Rate Results
Job Placement Rate by Program
Job Placement Rate by Program Type
Time to Placement
Time to Placement Addressable Population
Of the 294 students who had an Actual Graduation Date in H2 2019 and were Job Seeking, 217 of these students were subsequently Placed in jobs. The addressable population for Time to Placement is the 217 Placed Students.
Time to Placement Results
Time to Placement By Program
Time to Placement By Program Type
Position Type Addressable Population
Of the 294 students who had an Actual Graduation Date in H2 2019 and were Job Seeking, 217 of these students were subsequently Placed in jobs. The addressable population for Position Type is the 217 Placed Students. For the students whose Position Type were not reported, they are reported below as Unknown.
Position Type Results
Position Type By Program
Position Type By Program Type
Salary Outcomes Addressable Population
The addressable population for Salary Outcomes is the 217 Placed Students. For the students whose Position Type were not reported, they are reported below as Unknown. This analysis includes full-time salaried positions, as well as other types of work including full-time apprenticeships, part-time hourly positions and contract positions. Salaries for non-full time roles have been annualized.Salary Outcomes ResultsMedian Annualized Salary of Placed Students
Salary Distribution of annualized salaries among Placed Students
Full Stack Web Salary Distribution
Data Science Salary Distribution
Other Salary Distribution
Full Time Program Salary Distribution
Part Time Program Salary Distribution
Job Titles Addressable Population
The addressable population for Job Titles is the 217 Placed Students. For students whose Job Title was not reported, they are reported below as Unknown.
These charts reflect the number of Placed Students with each reported Job Title, by program. The combined totals by category tie to the population of 217 Placed Students.
Job Titles Results
Full Stack Web Job Title Distribution
Data Science Job Title Distribution
Other Job Title Distribution
Full Time Program Job Title Distribution
Part Time Program Job Title Distribution
A selection of companies who hired Lambda graduates
Bloomberg is a global finance, media and tech company. The 39-year old news, information and data provider is known as the place to work in the financial tech sector. They have more than 6,000 software engineers around the globe, with technology teams located in offices in New York City, Princeton, New Jersey, and San Francisco, pre-Covid-19.
They started working with Lambda School in May 2020, after the pandemic had started. So far the company has hired four graduates, all of whom have gone through the entire interviewing and onboarding process remotely.
We spoke with Justin Hamlet, Diversity & Inclusion Program Coordinator with Bloomberg Engineering’s Recruiting team, about why Bloomberg has chosen to work with Lambda School.
“One of the things that really stood out to us about Lambda School is the length of the program. Most bootcamps are only three months long–seeing that Lambda School prepares students for six or twelve months made us really confident that your students would have higher competency than grads coming from other places.”
Many educational institutions will provide a certificate, but graduates of those programs still sometimes feel underprepared for the actual on-the-job work. By contrast, Lambda School students spend hundreds of hours on project work to prepare them to work in fast-paced environments like Bloomberg.“One of the things that’s made us happiest about working with Lambda is the real-world experience they bring. Because bootcamp students often lack a 4-year degree, we need to judge them based on their project experience. Lambda students have that project and “real-world” experience, which helps them pass the first steps of our resume filter more often than other sources of candidates.”
Our diversity report
makes it clear that training programs like Lambda School can significantly diversify hiring pipelines in the tech industry, and we saw this was the case for Bloomberg too.“As part of our diversity and inclusion efforts, it is really important to us that our employees not only possess inherent diversity in terms of sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity, but also a mix of backgrounds and experiences. We want people who bring different lived experiences to the table. Lambda candidates bring diversity of thought from their own previous experiences, whether or not they identify with a given community. It’s important to us that we find people who bring multiple perspectives and Lambda students give us that.”
Our goal with every employer is to make hiring our students as easy and straightforward as possible. We stay in frequent contact with our hiring partners to ensure we’re meeting their needs and providing value to their companies.“Something we’ve really enjoyed about working with Lambda is how responsive you are and how much you keep us in the loop. We’re meeting with you every two weeks to discuss candidates, where every person is in the process, the types of candidates we’re looking for, etc. You’ve been great at helping us curate that list, adapting to our feedback, and bringing us the right candidates for what we need.”
Perhaps most importantly, our students strongly benefit from the strong relationships that Lambda School builds with employers. Orlando Lopez, a Lambda graduate who started working at Bloomberg in July 2020:"The past three months have been highly rewarding. It feels like everyone wants me to succeed in my role. My coworkers are enthusiastic about the work we do, which makes me look forward to working alongside them every day. The leadership makes it easy to contribute to the company's larger philanthropic efforts; giving back is a strong aspect of our culture, and has added to the meaning and impact that I perceive the code I write to have."
- Orlando Lopez
*Download the PDF for the full report.