Applying to RC
We’re glad you’re interested in applying to RC! This page explains our admissions process from start to finish.
Our admissions process has three steps:
After each step, we decide whether to invite you to the next one. The entire process averages between three and four weeks, though it can take as little as one to two weeks if we are able to review your application quickly and you are efficient about scheduling your interviews.
The written application
The first step of the process is filling out a written application. To help you write the best application possible, you can read about what we look for in Recursers. If you are eligible for a grant and need financial assistance to attend, you can request one on your application. We don’t consider whether or not you requested a grant when we make admissions decisions.
On average, we review applications about a week and a half after they’re submitted. We try to prioritize reviewing applications for the nearest batch. When we make a decision, you’ll either receive an invitation to interview, or an email notifying you that we don’t think RC is a fit at this time.
The conversational interview
If you’re invited to interview, you’ll be sent a link to book a time to meet. We try to have slots available at a variety of times on both weekdays and weekends. If none of the available times work for you, please email us at email@example.com.
This interview is intended to be a general conversation. We want to learn more about your interests as a programmer, what you’re working on, why you want to attend RC, and what you hope to get out of your time here. Conversational interviews typically last between 7 and 20 minutes and are usually conducted over a Zoom video call.
Your interviewer will email you a link to your Zoom call before its scheduled time. If you don’t have a Zoom account, you’ll have to download their software before your call — please plan ahead and do this in advance. If you prefer to use Hangouts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
There are no trick questions, and you won’t be expected to program anything. We may ask some technical questions about the code you submitted in your application or projects you’re working on. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask us questions to help you figure out if the Recurse Center is a good fit.
After the conversational interview, your interviewer will decide whether or not to invite you to a second interview. Once they decide, they’ll send you an email to let you know. We’ll try to get a decision to you within four days of your interview, but it’s usually sooner.
The pairing interview
For your pairing interview, you’ll share your screen and pair program with an interviewer on some code you’ve written. We typically use Zoom for screen-sharing. Please make sure you have a Zoom account, or have installed Zoom before your interview. In case Zoom isn't working for one or both parties, please have a Google Hangouts account as a backup. This way you and your interviewer can switch if you have technical difficulties. If you prefer to use Google Hangouts instead of Zoom, email us at email@example.com to let us know.
Before your interview, you’ll write a program that fulfills one of our pairing interview programming tasks or a program of your own creation, and put your code in a Gist. Use a programming language you are comfortable with.
Our goal in this interview is not to get the task done. What we really want is to see what it’s like to work with you. This is easiest if you select a task which is within your abilities but not trivial for you. A few things to keep in mind while choosing a task:
- Walking us through a problem you know cold tells us nothing about how you debug, test, take suggestions, think about design, or act when you’re confused.
- Conversely, attempting an overly large or complicated task might mean that we don’t get very much code written, which also makes it hard for us to evaluate the interview.
- Preparing for the interview is not cheating! We expect you to come in with an idea of how to proceed. If you want to choose an interesting task and read up on it first, that’s totally fine, but...
- Please don’t “practice” by implementing or memorizing the solution in advance – we’ve seen people walk through pre-written code before. While it’s not a deal-breaker in itself, it greatly reduces your odds of success because it makes it much harder to get the information we need to admit you.
- Read through the tasks even if you intend to submit your own project; they’re good examples of what’s feasible to tackle in 20 minutes. Remember you will need some extra time to acquaint your interviewer with your code, so please think about how to do this in advance.
After the pairing interview, your interviewers will get together and decide whether or not to admit you. You’ll either receive an invitation to confirm your batch, or an email notifying you that we don’t think RC is a fit at this time. As with the conversational interview, we’ll try to get a decision to you within four days of your interview.
Applying to a six or twelve week retreat
Our standard retreats last for twelve weeks, with the option of attending for only a six week half-batch. You can specify your desired retreat duration on your application.
If you apply and are admitted to a regular retreat, you will be able to confirm for any upcoming regular retreat that has space. However, you will only be able to confirm and attend a mini retreat if you submitted an application to a mini retreat.
Applying to a mini retreat
We offer one-week mini retreats, which coincide with the first week of a longer retreat.
Mini retreats use the same application and interview process as our longer retreats, but have a higher admissions standard.
We’re using the same admissions criteria—we’re looking for people who are self-directed, intellectually curious, friendly, sharp, enjoy programming and want to get dramatically better—but we’ll only admit applicants who show us clear, positive signals on each of these. Normally we can take chances on people and admit them even if we’re not sure they meet all our criteria. Since no admissions process is perfect, this lets us get great people to RC who we might otherwise miss. However, because trying new things is inherently risky and because one week is very little time to get focused and productive, we have a more conservative admissions process for mini retreats.
If you apply to a mini retreat, we may decide that you don’t meet the mini retreat criteria, but still invite you to come to RC for a six- or 12-week retreat.
When to apply
Applications are always open, and a new batch begins every six weeks. Applications for a batch typically open about six months before the batch starts, and close about two weeks before the batch begins, or when the batch is full, depending on which happens first. Here is the schedule of upcoming batches:
* Mini retreats run for five full days, Monday through Friday. Please apply only if you can attend all five days. We also host an optional meet and greet dinner on the Sunday before each mini retreat.
Please don’t apply to multiple batches if you’re not sure when you want to attend. Just submit one application for the batch you’re most likely to attend. If you’re admitted, you’ll have the option to choose a different one.
We don’t give individualized admissions feedback when we reject someone. This page explains why.
You’re welcome to reapply, but you must wait at least three months after the decision on your previous application. It’s not uncommon for us to admit people who we had previously rejected. In fact, 6% of all Recursers applied at least twice before being admitted. If you do reapply, we care most about seeing what’s changed since the last time you applied.
If you have any questions about the admissions process that aren’t answered on this page, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.