A Guide To Making The Most Out of Cohort-Based Programs

Image: Hikre School

Cohort-Based programs consist of small size (15-30 students) online classrooms that joins a course together and then moves through it at the same pace.

Mentors and instructors provide structure, resources, and guidance, but much of the learning happens peer-to-peer, as students collaborate with each other as they work on small to medium projects.

The popularization of Zoom in 2020, riding on the back of ever-expanding high-speed Internet access, made large group video-conferencing frictionless and reliable for the first time in the history of the internet.

Cohorts can now come together from hundreds of countries, study, and learn new skills together. Everything is virtual and digital and at the comfort of your own home.

Are we even surprised why online learning in general is getting widely popular these days?

Why cohort-based programs are better:

  • Community

  • Accountability

  • Interaction

  • Impact

These programs are known to be intensive, but with the right focus and guidance, it can reinvent your career for the better. You'll receive fast-paced training, do many activities, and complete multiple projects within a short span of time, typically 3 to 5 months.

However, students might feel overwhelmed exactly for this reason.

To make your social and learning experience worth it, you need to plan a few things on the side and set a clear vision of your future.

In this article, we've curated the best advice from course instructors and bootcamp mentors, to help you get the most out of your cohort-based learning experience.

1. Mentally prepare

Cohort-based programs are not like the ones you've experienced college.

Unlike college, you get the privilege to focus on a specific career path and you get the privilege to choose what are you interested or curious about.

However, expect to be frustrated and excited at most times, because of its learning pace. So, it's important to take time to prepare yourself mentally.

You can do this by:

  1. Zooming out

  2. Not taking life seriously

  3. Accepting fear

  4. Having fun

  5. Establishing a growth mindset

At the end of the day, what will make you success is how you prepare your mind to succeed.

2. Keep your workspace organized

An organized space keeps an organized mind, so always make sure you keep your space or environment tidy. Take this data:

According to a survey by Office Max, 77% of Americans feel like disorganization has a negative impact on their productivity, while 53% say disorganization negatively affects their motivation. And large corporations often spend a lot of money to maintain their office spaces clean.

Here are some tips on keeping your workspace organized.

3. Set clear goals

What was the first thing that came to your mind when you first registered for the program?

Getting the most out of a cohort-based program is directly related to what you want to get out of it.

Use this opportunity to define your goals clearly.

First, understand why signed up in the first place:

  • What is it that made me click register?

  • How will this help in my career?

  • Why do I want this?

  • What do I want to become after the program?

  • How will I improve personally and professionally?

Set specific goals.

Then, write these goals down in a piece of paper or a notebook.

Having your goals in written will give you clarity when you stumble during the course of the bootcamp and it will help you go the extra mile.

4. Stay motivated

One quality I look for from our students is their motivation.

Successful students from bootcamps or cohort-based programs are the ones that are driven and full of motivation, regardless of their skills and qualifications.

So, you have stay motivated or find sustainable methods of keeping yourself motivated throughout the program. Ask yourself the question, "Why did I sign up for this in the first place?"

Stay motivated enough to:

  1. Submit work on deadline

  2. Attend all sessions/lessons

  3. To keep going despite challenges

  4. Be engaged with your teammates

Motivated is like the fuel that will keep you going.

5. Practice your soft skills

One of the biggest advantages of attending a cohort-based program is the opportunity to develop and practice your soft skills. Some of these include:

  1. Visionary Leadership

  2. Clear Communication

  3. Public speaking

  4. Empathy

  5. Team Collaboration

  6. Constructive criticism

The biggest challenge in self-learning is the lack of community, collaboration, and mentorship. This is why cohort-based programs provide the most benefit to learners.

What separates you as a world-class individual and professional is your ability to apply your soft skills. To a certain extent, your soft skills alone can determine your success.

Also, if you analyze a given number of successful people in their field, including entrepreneurs, chances are they've nailed 2 or 3 of the listed soft skills above.

Hone your soft skills because it will make you stand out.

6. Teach what you've just learned

When you’re in a cohort-based program and stuck with a complex problem, one of the best ways to handle it is to teach it to someone else. When you teach someone else, it helps you narrow your focus to what’s important.

Use the following two methods:

  • Rubber Ducking. When feeling stuck, explain your problem to a rubber duck or to your siblings. Chances are, you'll learn better and faster when you teach it!

  • Journaling. Write down what you've just learned so you can review it later or just list down all the important notes for the day. Note taking or journaling is called "Second brain" by a lot experts because our "First Brain" cannot handle all the load of information.

At Hikre School, we empower learning through close-collaboration and hands-on learning. So, be fully prepared to learn by getting your hands dirty. Real dirty.

You'll learn by doing, but also by teaching.

7. Build a starling portfolio

One of the most starling takeaways from a cohort-based program is a portfolio containing the projects you've done throughout the course.

Your projects are your new resume.

Your capstone projects and prototypes will add value to your resume.

You should demonstrate your ability to brainstorm, investigate, research, develop, and scale a software project—not just once, but over and over again.

One of the biggest expectations hiring or recruiting managers have is the ability to see a project through to completion. Regardless of how small the project it is.

If you can do this in a team as well as alone, you’re both a team player and a self-starter, both of which are valuable traits.

8. Build in public

The beauty of being part of a cohort-based program is that you're able to involve the public into your projects, including your friends in college.

As you will be gathering important research like guiding questions or guiding actions, you will have to connect to communities found in your Facebook communities, Twitter circle, and Linkedin connections.

Building in public also creates affinity between you and other people, which in long term, you can leverage to future projects. Unlike other online schools, Hikre School encourages its students to build in public for their projects.

This is so the students can also build their own personal brand.

9. Treat your batch mates like family

A cohort-based program offers incredible value to its students when learning how to code mobile apps, how to design UI, how to research UX, and how to make a career out of it.

For example, Hikre School gives students access to a global network of fellow designers, software engineers, business owners, and startup creators. And of course including alumni, mentors, and career coaches.

One important advice to take away from this article is that build relationships with the people who you can offer the most value to you. Do it early on.

At some point in the future, you'll be grateful you did.

To make the most of a Hikre School program, focus as much on your mindset as you do on developing your skillset. Use the time to learn to code, but also to collaborate with your team, communicate clearly, build a global network, and transition to your new career.


Ready to reinvent your career?

Hikre School offers a comprehensive iOS Development & Product Design bootcamp You’ll work with a mentor to learn key aspects of app development, UI design, UX research, and launch your career as a software engineer.

Modules include learning resources, practice exercises, projects, and career-related coursework. Check out Hikre School's website to see if you qualify.


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