Checklist: 6 Things to do Before Your First Day of Lambda School
lambda student

Congratulations on being admitted to Lambda School! You’re about to embark on a journey that will change your career, and ultimately your life. It won’t be easy – Lambda School is an intense full-time commitment for 6 months (or 12 months if you’ve been admitted to a part-time program) – but you can do it, and we’re here to help.

Here are 6 things to do before your first day of class to ensure you get the most out of your time at Lambda School:

1- Ensure that you have the right computer specs and software for your chosen track:

Recommended computer specs for Data Science & Web Development students:


1.6 GHz Processor
120 GB Hard Drive
Web Cam


2 GHz Processor
256 GB Hard Drive (preferably solid state)

Recommended operating systems (in descending order): macOS, Windows 10 Pro, Ubuntu

Other versions of Windows work but students should anticipate occasional environment issues. Chromebooks are not supported, as coursework involves installing and running software locally.

You will also need to install all required software before your first day of class so you're ready to jump in:

Required software for Web Development students:

VS Code
Google Chrome
XCode - developer tools
Git bash

Slack for Mac or Slack for Windows
Node JS
Code Pen

Required software for Data Science students:

Slack for Mac or Slack for Windows

Other tools for DS students to get familiar with:

Google Colab
Canvas – you'll use the same credentials you use to log into your student dashboard.

2- Commit to Your New Schedule

If you enrolled in a full-time program, now is the time to clear your schedule so you can be online and ready to code from 8 am to 5 pm Pacific, Monday through Friday. If you’re enrolled in a part-time program, you’ll need to commit to Monday through Thursday 6 pm to 9 pm Pacific or 4 pm to 7 pm Pacific depending on your cohort, plus your choice of Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. If you live in another timezone, you’ll need to take that into account as you’re setting your new schedule. All students are required to attend 95% of course hours to graduate.

Our staff is committed to helping you find a job after graduation, but not every student is hired immediately after finishing their coursework. Of the 294 students who graduated in H2 2019 and were seeking a job, 73% (181) of Web Development graduates, 77% (17) of Data Science graduates, and 76% (19) of other graduates have been hired. Prepare now to fully dedicate yourself to the job hunt after you finish the coursework. Learn more about our placement rate in our H2 2019 Student Outcomes Report.

3- Set Expectations With Loved Ones

Have honest conversations with your loved ones, and especially with your partner, about the level of commitment required for you to be successful at Lambda. Due to the interactive nature of Lambda’s live, online curriculum, you’ll need to have a quiet place to work that’s free of distractions. It's also important to have a strong support system as you embark on your Lambda journey. The next 6-12 months will be full of early morning code reviews, late nigh rewrites, and countless hours of studying, so be sure you have loved ones you can count on to support you when you need it.

Be sure to also discuss who will handle family responsibilities, including childcare, while you’re attending class. The time you spend at Lambda will be some of the most impactful and transformative of your entire career, but they will also be some of the most difficult. Prepare to set healthy expectations and boundaries with your loved ones ahead of time. 

4- Create Your Remote Learning Environment

lambda student on Zoom

One of the best parts of Lambda School is the ability to attend class from anywhere - whether that’s in a coffee shop or in your spare bedroom at home. Wherever you choose to learn, having a quiet, dedicated workspace will be crucial for you to focus in class and participate in team stand-ups and pair programming. Adding a comfortable desk chair to your new workspace will make the long days of building and shipping that much easier on your back. Lastly, fill your remote classroom with things that will help you feel productive and happy, whether that’s your favorite pen and notepad, a plant, or some work-appropriate art. A second screen is not required, but will be helpful as you juggle Slack, Zoom, and GitHub windows.

Remember that you’ll spend much of the day on Zoom calls, so ensure that the background of your workspace is neat and tidy, and that you’ve tested your tech ahead of time so you won’t be late on your first day. 

5- Keep Your Skills Fresh

Lambda School is an intensive, fast-paced program designed to prepare you for a whole new career in just 6 to 12 months. Passing the Lambda Challenge signals to us that you have the minimum skills required to succeed in the program, but the pace of the curriculum means you’ll be expected to build on those skills very quickly.

Learning to code at Lambda School is like learning a new language by moving to a foreign country – we’re immersing you in a new culture, and while you’ll have access to a guide, you’ll need to be resourceful and curious in order to learn and communicate effectively.

We highly recommend you spend some time setting yourself up for success by utilizing the following free coding resources while you wait for the first day of class:

Free resources for learning Web Development:

Start by completing the Web Development precourse work to get familiar with the concepts you’ll be learning in the full Lambda School coursework. Then, start working your way through the following web development resources to keep up the momentum:

  • First, sign Up for a Github Account if you don't already have one. After the first couple of weeks, this will be the account you use to turn in assignments; you can also expect to use this account as a portfolio well into your new career.
  • Use Wes Bos' What the Flexbox to improve your CSS. Wes Bos’ 30 Day JS Challenge is also a great resource to get into the nitty gritty of JavaScript. It's okay if you're less than 30 days from class starting — completing as much of the challenge as possible before Day 1 will help you be better prepared for class.
  • Explore Code Challenge sites. There are lots of different sites which offer challenges for various languages, at various skill levels. Check out Edabit, CodeWars, CoderByte, LeetCode, or CodinGame and see which one looks the most fun to you.
  • Download Visual Studio Code. All of your instructors and TLs will be using VSCode, which you can download for free. If you're on a Windows machine, you'll also need to download and install Git.

If you're in the full-time Web Development program, you will also be required to complete Foundations, which is an introductory coding course designed to teach you the basics of we development. If you don't already have coding experience (and even if you do!) Foundations can help you quickly build the foundational skills necessary to be successful at Lambda School.

lambda student coding

Free resources for learning Data Science:

Start by completing the Data Science precourse work to get familiar with the basic concepts you’ll be tackling in class.

Getting good at Python will be your number one priority at Lambda, so check out these:

If you're already comfortable with Python, you can begin diving into Statistics and Linear Algebra.

6 – Attend Lambda Launch

Lambda Launch is our mandatory student orientation program where new students receive an introduction to the Lambda School experience. During orientation, you’ll learn effective strategies for remote learning, be briefed on our academic expectations, get a crash course on how to use the technologies necessary for your course, and receive instructions for how to get help when you need it.

Aside from completing the precourse work, participating in Lambda Launch is the most effective way you can set yourself up for success at Lambda School. It's also a requirement for all students – failure to attend Lambda Launch may result in you being withdrawn from the program.

Get ready to work hard and we’ll see you in class!

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