FAQ

Fundamentals

What is the Recurse Center?

The Recurse Center is a self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for people who want to get better at programming, whether they’ve been coding for three decades or three months. You can find out more on our about page.

Two Recursers pairing
What kinds of people go to the Recurse Center?

Recursers come from an extraordinarily diverse range of backgrounds. To find out more, read Who comes to RC.

Is this a bootcamp?

No. RC is an educational retreat for people who already know how to program, and for programmers of all experience levels. Our goal is to create the best place for you to grow as a programmer, not to turn you into a professional programmer in three months. See Not a bootcamp for more.

How much does attending the Recurse Center cost?

The Recurse Center is free for everyone. We don’t need to charge for attendance since we make money from companies paying us to hire our alumni.

Due to the spread of COVID-19 and its effects on the global economy and our business, we are currently unable to offer grants for upcoming batches. We hope to be able to offer grants again soon.

How does the Recurse Center make money?

Companies pay us to recruit our alumni. If after your batch you want a job, either immediately or down the line, we will help you find one. If you don’t want one, that’s fine too; there is no obligation to take a job through us.

To find out more about how we can help you grow your career, you can read Career services.

If you’re interested in recruiting from RC, you can learn more and get in touch with us here.

How do I apply?

For more details about applying and to fill out an application, see Applying to RC.

Who should apply

I don’t know how to program. Can I attend RC?

No, sorry. RC is only for people who already know how to code. Think of it like a writers’ workshop: we’re here to help people become better novelists, but they have to already know English and be comfortable writing fiction.

How much programming experience do I need to attend an RC retreat?

You need to have programmed enough to know that you enjoy programming and are able to write short programs from scratch. This requirement is as much for you as it is for us, since most of our time here is spent programming, and if you don’t like programming, you won’t like the Recurse Center.

This doesn’t mean you need to be single-mindedly obsessed with coding or regularly spend 12 hours a day doing it; it just means the prospect of three months focusing on becoming a better programmer should sound like fun and not a chore.

If you get excited thinking about how programming languages are written, or solve Project Euler problems for fun, or get a burst of joy every time you squash a bug, you’re almost certainly a good fit for the Recurse Center.

The lower bound for experience for people who have successfully done a batch of RC Retreat seems to be a few months. That is, we’ve had exceptional Recursers who started their batch with as little as two months of programming experience and who have done enormously well.

Is there a minimum age for attending RC?
There’s no lower bound on age as long as you meet our admissions criteria and can commit to participating in RC fully for the duration of your batch. If you are under 18, we ask that you get your parent or guardian to sign a waiver.
I'm not from the United States. Can I attend RC?

Definitely! People from more than 50 countries have attended RC in person and online.

I’d like to start my own company. Should I attend RC?
It depends, but if your primary interest is starting a company, you should apply to Y Combinator.
I’m a contract programmer. Can I do client work at the Recurse Center?
No, the Recurse Center is not a coworking space.

Admissions

What’s the admissions process?

For details about the admissions process and timeline, see Applying to RC.

I want to apply to the next batch of RC, but it starts soon. Will I get through the admissions process in time?

It's hard to answer this question because it depends on a number of different factors including when you apply, how many other applications we receive during the same period, interviewer availability, and how quickly you're able to schedule your interviews.

In general, if you apply one month before a batch starts, we should be able to get you an answer in time for you to attend, but that's not a guarantee. We can occasionally get you an answer in as little as a week or two if we are able to review your application quickly and you are efficient about scheduling your interviews.

Should I submit an application for each batch I’m able to attend?

No, 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.

Am I eligible for a grant?

Due to the spread of COVID-19 and its effects on the global economy and our business, we are currently unable to offer grants for upcoming batches.

Can you tell me why I wasn’t admitted or give me feedback on my application?

We don’t give individualized admissions feedback. You can read more about why here.

I applied and wasn’t admitted. Can I reapply?
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.
I’d like to submit a program that uses a framework. Is that OK?

The RC application includes a code sample so we can get a rough understanding of where you are as a programmer. We ask you to avoid frameworks because frameworks can make it harder for us to find the code you actually wrote. It’s often hard to figure out where the framework ends and your code begins.

You should choose whatever project you think best represents your programming ability, and use your judgement to decide whether it will be hard for us to quickly understand your program or figure out what parts of it you wrote. It’s better if you can submit a program that doesn't use a framework, even if you have to write something small for the application (tic-tac-toe works great). You're welcome to include links to any other projects you’re proud of in the "Links" section of your application.

International applicants

I’m not a US citizen. Can I attend the Recurse Center?
Yes, you can attend all 2020 batches of RC online, no matter where you are in the world! We’ve had people come from over 50 countries to attend the Recurse Center.
How many Recursers come from outside the US?
When we were operating in our physical space, about 30% of Recursers came from outside the US. To learn more about who comes to RC, read Who comes to RC.
Can you sponsor visas?
No, sorry.

Logistics

When does the next batch start?

The next batch starts on Monday, September 21st, 2020. You can find a list of upcoming batches on Applying to RC.

What’s the time commitment?

You can attend a retreat at RC for either a full batch (12 weeks), a half-batch (six weeks), or a mini retreat (one week). Batches meet Monday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm ET, and we often host events (such technical talks, job fairs, game nights, and art nights) on weekends and in the evenings. Our schedule is more flexible while RC is remote because people are participating in time zones all over the world, but the basic expectation is the same: that RC is your primary commitment while you're in batch.

All current Recursers and alums have 24/7 access to Virtual RC, and online attendees meet regularly to socialize, pair program, learn from each other, and share ideas on Zoom, Zulip, and video calls.

Can I miss X days/weeks of my batch?

It’s okay to miss one or two days of your batch because of prior engagements, however, it’s not okay to miss more than that (e.g., a full week). If you would need to miss more than a couple of days of a batch, you should attend another batch. A large part of the educational value of RC comes from your interactions with your batchmates and alumni, and being around consistently during your batch is an important part of that.

You may only attend a mini retreat if you can commit to being present for every day of the mini retreat.

I only need to miss one day, but it’s the first day of the batch. Is that okay?

No, unfortunately. The first day of a batch is different from the rest, and it’s essential that everyone is there for it and for the welcome ceremony in the morning. If you can’t make it for the welcome ceremony, you should choose another batch that fits your schedule better.

Where is the Recurse Center?
Online, until we can safely reopen our space! Our physical space is located in New York City, near the intersection of Fulton Street and Bridge Street in Downtown Brooklyn.
Do I have to be in New York?
If you'd like to attend a 2020 batch, no. You can attend RC online in 2020, no matter where you are in the world. Read more about what it's like to do a batch remotely here.
Can I visit the Recurse Center?

No. Our space is currently closed. When it's open we also unfortunately can’t accommodate visitors due to the layout and occupancy requirements of our space. If you’re interested in learning more about what RC is like, check out the rest of this FAQ, our about page, Who comes to RC, Why RC and our manual. You are also welcome to email us.

We sometimes host open houses, where you can come and see the space, chat with alumni, and ask us questions about RC. We announce open houses to our mailing list and on our Twitter.

The experience

How does anyone learn if there are no teachers or curricula?

While at RC, people work on programming projects, self-study using books or online courses, and teach and learn from each other both informally and in casual workshops and seminars. We believe that people learn best when given the freedom to focus on what interests them, rather than having to follow a fixed curriculum.

We’ve found that everyone learns a lot when a group of smart, curious people get in a room together to write code and help each other grow.

You can read more about our educational philosophy here.

What is attending RC remotely like?

You can learn more on our Virtual RC page!.

How many women are at the Recurse Center?
Recurse Center batches are typically 30-45% women. You can read this blog post, Diversity and inclusion, and Who comes to RC to learn more.
How old are most Recursers?
Recursers have ranged in age from late teens to late 50s, though most are in their late 20s or early 30s. To find out more about the kinds of people you'll find at RC, read Who comes to RC.
Does the Recurse Center grant degrees or certificates?
No. The reasons to attend the Recurse Center are to become a better programmer, to work on projects you’re excited about, to join the world’s best programming community, and to get a free t-shirt.
Do you have a Code of Conduct?

Yes.

The business

Are you funded?

We were part of the Summer 2010 Y Combinator batch and have received additional funding from Founder Collective, SV Angel and a small set of angel investors. We also received a Flash Grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation.

What’s the correct way to write your name?

When referring to us in a sentence, our name is written as the Recurse Center (note the lowercase “the,” capitalized “Recurse” and “Center,” and space between the two), and can be abbreviated as RC. Written on its own (i.e., not in a sentence), we are simply Recurse Center.

People who are attending or who have attended the Recurse Center are Recursers. Past Recursers are also known as alums, alumni or alumnae.