Applying to RC

We’re glad you’re interested in applying to RC! This page explains our admissions process from start to finish.

The process

Our admissions process has three steps:

  1. A written application
  2. A conversational interview
  3. A pair programming interview

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.

Retreat information

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 admissions@recurse.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 Skype video call. 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 Skype for screen-sharing. However, Skype is not always reliable, especially on Linux, so please have a Google Hangouts account as a backup.

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. Read more on our blog about this new experiment.

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:

Batch
Dates
Accepting applications
Notes
Mini 6, 2018*
Sep 24th - Sep 28th
Yes
This batch will be held in our new space in Brooklyn.
Fall 2, 2018
Sep 24th - Dec 13th
Yes
We will be closed on Thursday, 11/22 and Friday, 11/23 in observation of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mini 7, 2018*
Nov 5th - Nov 9th
Yes
This batch will be held in our new space in Brooklyn.
Winter 1, 2018
Nov 5th, 2018 - Feb 14th, 2019
Yes
There will be a holiday break from Monday, December 17th through Friday, January 4th. While this batch has 12 weeks of in-batch time, it spans 15 calendar weeks.
Winter 2, 2019
Jan 7th - Mar 28th
Yes
Mini 1, 2019*
Jan 7th - Jan 11th
Yes
Spring 1, 2019
Feb 18th - May 9th
Yes
Mini 2, 2019*
Feb 18th - Feb 22nd
Yes
Mini 3, 2019*
Apr 1st - Apr 5th
Yes
Spring 2, 2019
Apr 1st - Jun 27th
Yes
There will be a one-week break in the middle of this batch for Never Graduate Week. While there will be 12 in-session weeks, the batch will span 13 calendar weeks in total.
Mini 4, 2019*
May 20th - May 24th
Not yet
Summer 1, 2019
May 20th - Aug 8th
Not yet
Summer 2, 2019
Jul 1st - Sep 19th
Not yet

* 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.

Feedback

We don’t give individualized admissions feedback when we reject someone. This page explains why.

Reapplying

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 admissions@recurse.com.