Table of Contents
- The big picture
- General philosophy
- Growth mindset
- Code of Conduct
- Class structure
- Class and homework format
- Academic honesty
- The role of teachers
- Internships and jobs
- Internship program structure
- Internship eligibility
- Job hunting support
- Cleanliness, fragrance, smoking
- Personal devices, internet use
- Lunch speakers
- Staff offices
- After hours access and security
- Other policies
- Discrimination and Harassment
- Student Files
Welcome to Epicodus! We're very excited to have you as a student with us.
Before class starts, there are some things we'd like you to know so that you can make the most of your time with us. We'll start with the big picture.
The Big Picture
Any experienced developer will tell you that the more you learn about programming, the more you realize just how little you know. Being a developer is not about learning a fixed set of skills that you can apply for the rest of your career, and that understanding fundamentally shapes how we structure Epicodus. We believe that the languages, tools, and approaches you'll learn here are much less important than the general skills of solving problems.
Successful programmers embrace the limitations of what they can know, and get good at figuring out what they don't know. They develop a mindset in which not knowing the answer isn't a source of anxiety, but rather an opportunity to learn and explore.
As part of your pre-class work, you'll read about the growth mindset. Here's a quick explanation made of excerpts from that article:
Researchers have known for some time that the brain is like a muscle; that the more you use it, the more it grows.
Neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes doing difficult tasks rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones.
Our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.
People with growth mindsets correctly believe that capability and intelligence can be grown through effort, struggle and failure.
Mindsets can be taught; they’re malleable.
If you have a growth mindset - if you enjoy challenging yourself and view your failures as opportunities to learn, not mistakes to be ashamed of - you'll be much more successful at Epicodus. Work on developing a growth mindset. Your teachers will help guide you in that direction.
An important part of this growth mindset is to measure your progress against yourself, and not against other students. It's unlikely you've previously used your brain as intensely as you will at Epicodus, and getting used to this kind of a mental workout is hard enough without adding the pressure of comparing yourself to others. Everybody has their own way and pace of learning and retaining information, and often that pace ebbs and flows throughout the class. Go at a pace that's right for you, and avoid comparing your progress to other students'.
Code of Conduct
At Epicodus, students spend all of their time working together, in pairs and often in groups of pairs. We have observed that, in both learning and practicing software development, people learn more and write better software when working together than when working alone.
Such close collaboration requires that students at Epicodus commit to supporting and respecting each other.
To participate in Epicodus, you must agree to:
- Be kind to others. Most of the time, this should be easy. (If this is something you have trouble with on a regular basis, you shouldn't enroll in Epicodus.) Occasionally, this will be difficult, especially with people you don't like, or with people who have not been kind to you. Nevertheless, under all circumstances, you agree to be kind to others.
- Assume others' good intentions. When someone does something that feels unkind to you, assume that person has good intentions. Perhaps they did not mean to be unkind. Perhaps they are in a bad mood. Perhaps you did something that hurt them without realizing it.
- Help other students be kind to you. If someone does something that hurts or offends you, talk to them about what they did and how it hurt you. If you are not comfortable talking to them, ask a teacher or friend to help you talk to that person.
- Respect people's differences. Students at Epicodus are of diverse races, genders, sexual orientations, economic statuses, and many other differences. Don't assume anything about someone's ability or personality because of such differences, and don't say anything hurtful about who they are. If you aren't sure if something might be hurtful, don't say it.
- Don't make others feel uncomfortable. Different people have different feelings and expectations about sex and romance. Sexual harassment can take many forms and it can be difficult to anticipate what conduct may be offensive or unwelcome to others. Be respectful to your classmates: if you aren't sure if something will make someone uncomfortable, don’t do it.
- Work hard and stay focused. The highly collaborative nature of the class means that your classmates will be relying on you to come to class for the entire day, every day, for the entire course, unless you are sick or have a personal emergency. During class, stay focused on your work. Turn off your cell phone and don't check email, Facebook, or any other website that does not relate to the work at hand.
- Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep on school nights. Eat well. Exercise for at least 20 minutes every day, even if it's just walking. It will make you a better coder, and a better teammate to your classmates.
Hopefully, this Code of Conduct is how you strive to behave anyways. If it is not, you should probably not enroll in Epicodus. The Epicodus staff will have the final say in the interpretation of this Code, and if they decide you have violated it, they will ask you to leave the class.
Epicodus is an opportunity not just to learn web development, but to practice working closely with others. On the rare occasions that you find such close collaboration difficult, we hope this Code of Conduct will be your guide.
All students and staff must follow our Code of Conduct. If you violate the Code of Conduct, your teacher or another Epicodus staff will talk with you about what you did, why it violated the Code of Conduct, and document the meeting by sending you an email. If you violate the Code of Conduct a second time, you will be expelled.
Epicodus's management may, in their sole discretion, deem your first violation malicious and expel you without previous warning. Examples of malicious violations include using racial slurs or making threats of violence.
Most days, you'll spend most of your classroom time at Epicodus pair programming, in which you'll share a computer, keyboard, and mouse with another student. We've found pair programming to work really well in our classroom for several reasons:
- You catch each other's' mistakes, typos, and bugs.
- You learn to communicate about your code.
- It forces you to look at your code from another's perspective.
- Knowledge, ideas, and approaches diffuse quickly around the classroom.
- Working with someone else keeps you focused and productive.
- It's fun and you get to know your classmates really well!
From past classes, we've seen that teamwork and communication skills are more important than coding skills when it comes to applying for jobs. So use pairing as a way to intentionally build your skills in these areas!
All that said, pairing has its drawbacks, the main one being that some of your pairs will learn at a different pace than you. Your goal should be to find other students who work at about the same pace as you. Some days you'll pair "up" with somebody who understand the concepts better than you: take these opportunities to learn from your pair. Some days you'll pair "down": take these opportunities to better cement your own understanding by explaining to your pair.
Make sure you try to find pairs who are relatively close to your level of understanding. If you always pair down, you won't push your limits. If you always pair up, you'll find that even if you think you understand a concept, you won't be able to implement it yourself. If you have a couple days in a row where your pairs haven't been well-matched, talk with a teacher and they can help you find a good pair for the next day.
Less frequently, pairing can be difficult because of different learning styles or personality conflicts. Take some time to talk to your pair about your learning style before you start: do you take a lot of notes, talk things through before starting, or explore lots of tangents? Finding out about your pair's style and discussing what to do if you have different approaches or priorities can help you avoid conflicts later. If you do end up in a situation where you're feeling frustrated or uncomfortable, your pair is probably feeling that way too. Take a deep breath, take a break if you need to, and then talk about it with them. It's tough, but it's better than suffering through the day: talking about it will relieve the tension. Ask a teacher if you need help having that conversation. Remember that everybody will have difficult pairs, especially at first. But it's worth it, especially when you find people who you work really well with.
Until the end of the class, when we'll work on larger projects, you'll switch pairs every day. Finding pairs can be tricky and awkward, especially at first. To help you out, you can find pair suggestions in our student portal, Epicenter. We'd also suggest that you ask your teachers for recommendations, as well as other students you've paired well with.
Class and homework format
The only way to become a programmer is to spend a lot of time programming, and Epicodus is designed to maximize the time you spend actually programming.
For classwork each day, you'll be assigned a new project, and each day, you'll work with a different pair (towards the end of class, you may work on longer projects). For homework, you'll have 20 to 40 minutes (rarely but occasionally more) of videos or text lessons introducing you to new concepts and tools. You're expected to watch the videos, but not to follow along with them or understand them completely - that's what class is for. Likewise, there are no lectures in class - that's what the homework is for.
At the end of each week, you'll work alone on an independent project that will help you make sure you understand the topic for the week and identify any gaps in your knowledge. You shouldn't ask other students or your teachers for help.
For full-time classes, you'll have all day Friday to complete your individual project. Starting in the second week of each class, you'll have a weekly one-on-one checkin with your teacher of up to 15 minutes, during which you'll do a code review of your individual project and talk about how you're doing in the class. If you're struggling or have specific concerns, your checkin is a perfect time to discuss what's going on.
For evening classes, you'll complete your individual project at home and receive an email when your teacher has completed your code review.
Each code review contains several objectives. You must meet all of the standards in order to pass. If your code doesn't meet the standards, you may resubmit your project at any time, and your teacher will review it again the next week.
Your teacher will only conduct subsequent code reviews after you have passed the previous ones. If you do not pass all of your code reviews for a course, you won't pass that course, and won't be able to use that course to meet prerequisites for other courses or to satisfy graduation requirements.
Your code review will be available in Epicenter.
The code reviews we do for your individual projects is the main way your teachers can see where your skills are at, and the only chance for you to get feedback on your individual work to make sure that you're learning what you need to know to be successful after graduating. If you copy someone else's work, you lose out on that feedback about your work. And if you graduated by passing off others' work as your own, you'd not only be setting yourself up for failure at their job, but your failure on the job would also hurt the reputation of all other Epicodus students.
For these reasons, it's extremely important that you submit only your own work for individual projects. Students found to have copied others' work or received help from others will be expelled.
The role of teachers
Most of programming is getting stuck and figuring out how to get un-stuck, so asking for help is a balance between struggling with a problem for long enough to build your own problem-solving skills, and not spending too much time and frustration on any one problem. A good rule of thumb is to spend 20 minutes trying to solve a problem yourself before asking for help. Another tip is if you're frustrated and nothing seems to be working, take a walk and get away from your computer screen for a little bit. You'll be amazed at what your subconscious can figure out when you let it rest.
An important skill to develop at Epicodus is understanding other people's code. So before you ask a teacher for help, you'll ask another pair of students, to give them a chance to try understanding your code and helping you figure out what to do.
When you do need help from a teacher, you'll find that they will ask more questions than provide answers - their goal is to help guide you to the the next step, rather than give you the solution outright. Sometimes, you may even find that if you ask two different teachers for help on the same problem, they give you two different suggestions. Although it can be frustrating at the time to not just get the answer to your problem, our alumni have always thanked us later for making them work through it. And when you come up with the answer yourself, it's much more rewarding!
Before you ask for help, make sure that you have gone through the lesson on debugging for the language you're working in and how to ask for help. Then, put in a help request at the help site for your class (your teacher will tell you on the first day). There are no limits on the number of questions you can ask, and there are certainly no "dumb questions", so long as you have taken the time to try to figure it out yourself.
Teachers are not available outside of class hours - your problem-solving struggles should happen during class, so there should be no need to contact your teachers outside of class. Please respect their personal time by not asking them to stay after class to help you.
Remember, the most important skill you'll learn at Epicodus is how to solve problems. Your teachers are merely your guides along this path.
Our attendance policy is that you should not miss class (or be late or leave early) unless you are sick, have a personal emergency, an important personal event (wedding, funeral, etc), or a trip you'd already booked before being accepted to Epicodus. Your attendance record will appear on your transcript, which you will send to employers as part of the internship match-making process. If you miss class, it is up to you to make up whatever work you miss.
Arriving for class more than 15 minutes late, or leaving more than 15 minutes early, counts as being tardy; each day you are tardy counts as ½ of a missed day.
If you miss 10% of a course (typically 2.5 days), a teacher will talk to you about your attendance, remind you of this policy, and send you an email. You will be expelled if you miss more than 20% of course (typically 5 days).
When you come to class each day, you will sign-in with your pair. Make sure to sign in so that your attendance record is accurate. If you need to miss a day, there's no need to tell a teacher. If you're going to miss multiple days, mention it to your teacher in class.
Because Epicodus's courses are short and intense, we do not grant leaves of absence during the program.
It's a shame we have to say anything about this at all, but if you sign in and then leave, have a friend sign in for you, or otherwise represent that you have attended class when you have not, you will be expelled from Epicodus. If for some reason you believe that Epicodus's attendance policy does not work for you, please talk with an Epicodus staff or your teacher about it as early as possible.
If you are expelled from Epicodus, you may not re-apply.
Each day starts with a short "standup", where everybody in the class stands in a circle and has a chance to share news, events, and anything else of general interest to your classmates. Teachers also use standup to make announcements.
If you'd like extra one-on-one help outside of class, we have a list of community members and Epicodus alumni who are available as tutors/mentors in the student forum.
Internships and Jobs
Internship program structure
Towards the end of your level 3 class, a career coach will review your resume and cover letter with you, and you'll get a chance to practice doing a mock interview. In the first two weeks of your internship session, you'll have additional application prep help, go through several interviews with host companies, be matched with a host, and complete any prep work your host assigns. After the first 2 weeks, you'll begin your 5-week internship. (All internships are coordinated to take place immediately after your coursework ends. You will not be able to postpone the internship and take it at a later time.)
The internship design is up to the host, but all have two common elements: at least 30 hours per week of programming or programming-related work, and an experienced programmer available to you for at least 30 hours per week as a mentor.
As part of your internship application process, you'll send your attendance and transcript to the host companies you interview with. For complete information about the internship, see our student internship agreement.
If you successfully complete your first four classes and have maintained a record of good attendance and pairing with other students, you will continue into your internship preparation.
Due to many employers' requirements, you must be authorized to work in the United States to participate in the internship program.
Job hunting support
After you finish your internship and graduate from Epicodus, our career coach will call and email you at least once a week to check in, until you find a job. If you want to delay your job search or aren't planning to look for development work after Epicodus, let us know so that we don't waste your and our time trying to contact you. If, after 3 emails and 2 phone calls, you do not respond to us, we will stop trying to provide job search assistance.
If you bike to class, you can lock your bike in the parking garage beneath the building. Enter the garage on Stark St between SW 5th and 6th Ave. Go in the glass doors, go through the door to the right of the elevators, and turn right through hallways until you reach the entrance to our bike vault by the trash cans. To help keep things clean, bikes are not allowed in our office.
If you drive, parking can be difficult to find and expensive. Some students park on the east side around SE 12th and Ash, and then either bus over or walk (about 25 minutes walk). If you want to try parking downtown, there is a list of lots and prices at portland.bestparking.com. There is no parking available at our building.
Public transit is often much easier and cheaper than parking. A daily pass for the MAX is $5, which is about half of what most lots charge. At trimet.org, you can find all of the Park & Ride areas for the MAX and bus lines. Parking is free at Park & Rides, but some fill up very early.
Cleanliness, fragrance, smoking
Portland is notorious for its hippie sensibilities, but please keep others' comfort in mind as you consider your bathing habits and deodorant use during class. Similarly, refrain from using perfume and scents, as others may be sensitive or simply not enjoy those smells. E-cigarettes, like regular cigarettes, must be smoked outside. Remember, pairing puts us all in close physical proximity.
Personal devices, internet use
During class, we require that you put away your cell phone, tablet, laptop, and any other devices. Using them is distracting and disrespectful to other students and your teachers. The one exception is that if you have a laptop, you're encouraged to bring it on Fridays for your code review; you'll have a chance first thing in the morning to get help from teachers with any problems you have setting up your programming environment on it.
You also may not check email, social media, or any other website that does not relate to your coursework.
Cubbies are available by the front door. Since our doors are unlocked during the day, we recommend you not keep any valuables in them. To keep items from being forgotten for long periods, anything left in them over the weekend will be moved to the lost and found.
All of our desks are set up for standing or sitting on the stool-height chairs we've provided. You can adjust the height of our desks by pulling out the handle and cranking it. While you may not have used a standing desk before and they do take a little getting used to, we've found that most of our students come to appreciate the option to alternate between sitting and standing and the improved circulation and energy that this little bit of movement provides. Having desks at standing height is also very helpful for our teachers, as leaning over to sitting-height desks all day is a big strain on the back. So in general, please do not replace the stool-height chairs with lower chairs without talking to a staff first. That said, we recognize that the provided stools are not the ideal shape for some body types and people with certain back conditions, so if you need to use a different chair, please talk to a staff member and we'll be happy to accommodate you. If at any point you do move chairs or any other furniture, please put it back in its original place before you leave.
Our chairs sometimes come loose. Please let a teacher know immediately if this happens, so they can replace it for you and tighten it. Continuing to use the chair will damage it.
We use mice and keyboards with ergonomic designs. Like our standing desks, the equipment takes a little getting used to but yields huge health benefits in the long run, helping prevent wrist injuries that many programmers experience after a few years of work. Some of the keyboards and mice have batteries. There is a battery charger for our rechargeable batteries on the northwest side of the classroom.
Shut down your computer at the end of every day. When you log out, restart, or shut down Epicodus computers, they will delete all of your changes, so remember to back up your code before you finish.
Lunch is from noon to 1pm. You are welcome to take snack breaks at any time.
There is a kitchen area with microwaves and fridges. Keep all food and drinks without lids (except water) in the kitchen area, as the rest of the office is carpeted and spills are inevitable. Do not leave dishes in the kitchen, as there is not enough space for everybody's items; you can store them in your cubby instead. Everything in the fridge is thrown out each Friday evening or over the weekend. Dishes left in the kitchen will be put in the lost and found under the kitchen counter.
Alcohol is not allowed at Epicodus.
Most Wednesdays we have guest speakers during lunch. Most of the talks are about working as a developer and related topics. Attending these talks is optional but highly recommended.
Students may use bathrooms on Epicodus's floor and the floor above.
Gender diversity is welcome at Epicodus. Everybody is welcome to use the restroom that best fits their identity. A single stall restroom is available on the first floor next to the conference room. The keypad code is 314. We realize this isn't ideal for all students but unfortunately this is the best solution we have been able to negotiate with the building ownership.
Epicodus is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation, contact [email protected] as soon as possible after being accepted. Many of our classrooms are located in tall buildings on floors higher than ground level. In the case of an emergency, students may need to take the stairs to evacuate. If you have mobility issues that would impede your ability to evacuate via the stairs, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can arrange accommodations ahead of time.
If you need something from a staff member who isn't your teacher, send them an email. Please do not come into staff offices without an appointment, as staff members typically have very busy schedules.
After hours access and security
If you would like to use our facilities, the elevator to our floor, or the bike vault before 7am or after 6pm on weekdays, or at all during the weekends, you will need a keycard assigned to you. You can sign up for a card by setting up a keycard subscription for $1 a month. (Details on how to subscribe will be sent to you before class starts.) There are security cameras that record our classroom at all times.
A handful of businesses have offered discounts to Epicodus students, including the local Apple store and the company that makes the standing desks we use.
Discrimination and Harassment
Respect for students' and staff's diverse backgrounds is a cornerstone of Epicodus's Code of Conduct. Epicodus prohibits discrimination against or harassment with regards to any local, state, or federal protected classes towards its applicants, students, employees. Protected classes include race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, receipt of public assistance, and protected genetic information.
If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed, please notify our President, Michael Kaiser-Nyman, in person or in writing at [email protected] Any person unlawfully discriminated against, as described in ORS 345.240, may file a complaint under ORS 659A.820 with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Epicodus’s policies governing employees will be enforced in situations where instructional staff or other school personnel have been found to have engaged in discriminatory behavior.
If for any reason you feel that a student or staff has violated the Code of Conduct, or if in any way Epicodus is not meeting your needs, please talk with your teacher or any other staff member, or email our President at [email protected]
If we are not able to help you, you may contact the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, as per the below legally required language:
Students aggrieved by action of the school should attempt to resolve these problems with the appropriate school officials. Should this procedure fail students may contact:
Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission
Office of Post-Secondary Education
775 Court Street NE
Salem, Oregon 97301
After consultation with appropriate Commission staff and if the complaint alleges a violation of Oregon Revised Statutes 345.010 to 345.470 or standards of the Oregon Administrative Rules 715-045-0001 through 715-045-0210, the Commission will begin the complaint investigation process as defined in OAR 715-045-0023 Appeals and Complaints.
Nothing in the policy prevents the student from contacting the Workforce Board at 360-709-4600.
Epicodus keeps copies of student transcripts and other documents indefinitely. If you wish to access your student files, you may email [email protected], and your files will be sent to you by email.
Epicodus complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA - http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html):
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."
Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.