Recurse Center

Do you have enough experience for Hacker School?

David Albert

People often ask how much programming experience you need to do Hacker School. We think that’s the wrong question to ask, because we don’t actually care how much experience you have. What we really care about is if you’d be a good fit for Hacker School and if Hacker School would be a good fit for you. We determine this primarily by figuring out if you love programming, so if you’re wondering if you should apply, the right question to ask yourself is, “do I really love programming?” If you do, you’d love Hacker School. If you don’t, you’d be unhappy here.

We can’t stress this enough: We spend almost all of our time at Hacker School coding. If you get excited thinking about how programming languages are written, spend hours on end solving Project Euler problems for fun, and get a burst of joy every time you squash a bug, you’re almost certainly a good fit for Hacker School. If you don’t enjoy these things, you won’t be happy here and you won’t get what you want out of it.

It may seem like we’ve sidestepped the original question, so I’ll answer it in a different way: How much programming experience do you need to do Hacker School? Enough to know you love it. This doesn’t have to be very much, although it can’t be nothing, because you can’t know you love something if you’ve never done it before. We’ve met people who have fallen in love with programming after as little as a few months. So don’t concentrate on how long you’ve been programming. We won’t be. We’ll be concentrating on how much you love it, and what you’ve done in the time you’ve been coding.

Try not to see this as “applying” to Hacker School. There aren’t any bars you have to get over, nor are there hard qualifications that we look for. Instead, see it as figuring out if Hacker School is what you really want. Read our about page and our FAQ. We try to be as explicit as possible to make it easy for you to figure out if you’ll enjoy and benefit from Hacker School.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you love programming if you don’t really. You’ll only end up unhappy down the road. Don’t lie to us and say that you really love programming if you don’t. Hacker School won’t make it easier for you to start your own startup or get a high paying job as a programmer if you don’t actually enjoy programming. You simply won’t get what you want out of it.

If you haven’t programmed before, there’s no time like now to start! There are lots of good resources online. We recommend getting your feet wet with Codecademy’s JavaScript lessons and moving on to Learn Python the Hard Way or Learn Ruby the Hard Way by Zed Shaw. Once you know a bit, you can have some fun solving Project Euler problems. They start out easy but get challenging quickly.

Have fun and do what you love. If that happens to be programming, you should come to Hacker School.