The term “boot camp” traditionally has referred to basic training for new military recruits. Today, however, the concept also applies to short but intensive course offerings in continuing education programs.
Boot camps first arose in the IT sector as a means of filling the void of software development talent in Silicon Valley. A number of companies developed nine- to 12-week courses to teach students how to write code, and the programs proved extremely popular. People of all ages and from all walks of life were eager to gain skills that might net them six-figure salaries, and the companies turned away more than 80 percent of potential enrollees as the class rapidly filled up.
Now many colleges and universities are hoping to tap into the success of boot camps. Schools ranging from the University of Texas at Austin to Baker University (a private Methodist school located in Baldwin City, Kan.) are offering boot camps for aspiring software engineers. And more programs are cropping up all the time. The University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education just announced that it would be launching 24-week Coding Boot Camp in November.
Some schools developing boot camps already have strong IT departments, while others must find instructors who are qualified to teach programming. Many boot camp programs are online only, while others incorporate a classroom component.
And the concept is extending beyond IT-related disciplines. Oregon State University offers a Grammar Boot Camp, and Arizona State has developed a program on strategic planning for nonprofit professionals and volunteers. Ramapo College even offers a Retirement Boot Camp for Boomers — a three-night course on financial management, estate planning and insurance.
Although businesses and professional associations started the boot camp trend, market analysts say colleges and universities are well-positioned to both capitalize on and advance the concept. Schools have well-developed processes for attracting students, as well as infrastructure investments in both online and classroom learning. In addition, continuing education programs in institutions of higher education are often more innovative than traditional degree programs, providing room to experiment with new models.
Boot camps are typically priced in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, and targeted at working professionals seeking to add to their skills or change careers. By building upon the boot camp concept, schools can gain a new revenue stream, provide learners with effective training and develop a skilled workforce to meet the needs of industry.
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