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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. That’s exactly what Zach Cohen, a sophomore at New York University, did when he turned his passion for coding into a thriving computer science summer program for teens.

While some high schools offer coursework in computer science and programming, the course sequences typically begin and end with AP Computer Science or an introductory programming elective. Frustrated by the lack of high-level and topic-based programming courses at the high school level and offered by summer courses, Cohen took matters into his own hands and launched NextGen, a coding bootcamp for students in grades 9 through 12, and those who are returning from a gap year.

“What truly distinguishes NextGen from other coding programs is what we teach and how we teach it,” explained Cohen. “We are the only program that teaches data science to high school students, and that truly exemplifies our beliefs.” The proof is in the dedicated curriculum, which goes far beyond the fundamentals, and in the expertise of the engineers who helped create it.

NextGen, which launched in 2016, provides students with an innovative, hands-on, fully immersive curriculum in coding topics such as data science, web development, app development and computer science. Founded with the help of Harvard and Columbia professors, the program, which operates Monday through Friday during the summer months, quickly gained traction and expanded from Hackensack into New York and Los Angeles. Recently, NextGen has partnered with Noble Desktop, a top code and design school in New York City that has trained over 40,000 students and employees of companies such as J.P Morgan, Nike and Zara.

All of NextGen’s instructors are both developers and experienced educators. They have advanced degrees in computer science and math as well as extensive engineering experience. They are active developers who are well-versed in new technologies and who have ample experience teaching and working with teens.

Perhaps most importantly, as the summer programs come to an end, students are not left hanging; NextGen helps students establish portfolios, obtain competitive internships over the following summers, and even helps high school seniors apply to college.

The results are remarkable: summer camp alumni have gone on to study in prestigious programs at Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, NYU and University of Michigan, among others. Students have even been exempted from introductory courses at these colleges due to having taken NextGen’s courses.

In recent years, programming has become an in-demand skill across disciplines. Learning to code sets students up for success in a variety of careers, not only in fields related to computer science. At NextGen, students learn invaluable technical and non-technical skills that they can take with them to college, career and beyond. In addition to learning multiple programming languages in a short period of time, they learn to think critically, to use advanced logic to solve challenges and to collaborate with their peers in professional settings.

Many have likened coding to learning a foreign language, and in many ways, the comparison makes sense. People who speak more than one language are able to apply their linguistic skills to a variety of fields and disciplines. According to Cohen, coding has become an interdisciplinary field of study and a necessary 21st-century skill.

Cohen is on a mission to bring an immersive, hands-on coding education to younger ages. That’s why, he explains, previous coding experience is not a prerequisite for NextGen’s summer camps.

NextGen keeps its class sizes small, with an impressive 8:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Cohen is confident that learning in an intimate and immersive environment facilitates rapid learning and helps students grasp challenging concepts. Students jump into hands-on work right away, using the same tools that industry professionals use. The programs mimic a professional working environment: students communicate via Slack, organize their ideas and projects on Trello, and collaborate with each other on Github, just as they would do in any developer role.

These immersive, hands-on summer camps are unparalleled by any other programs for teens. Alongside their after-school and in-school programs, NextGen’s summer camps provide an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere and a curriculum that was designed with high school students in mind. Students learn the same programming and computer science concepts that they would learn in a traditional coding bootcamp, but here they are learning alongside others close in age to them.

NextGen’s flagship location in Hackensack offers a comprehensive set of courses to meet the learning goals of any aspiring developer. Students can attend two-week summer camps in Java, Python, web development or app development. Looking for something longer than two weeks? NextGen’s four-week summer camps in software engineering or full-stack web and app development are as comprehensive as they come.

In the four week software engineering summer camp, students learn Java and computer science, Python and data science, how to write and use industry-standard algorithms, how to write their own programs and how to understand complex data.

In the four-week web development summer camp, students learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript, culminating in a portfolio-worthy website by the end of week two. Afterward, students learn Swift and Xcode, creating multiple IOS apps by the end of week four.

Courses run from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and have students engaged in project-based learning from day one. Aspiring students can view course details and register for summer camps at Nextgenbootcamp.com. Registration is open now. Promo Code jewishlink for 10% off NextGen Programs!

By Andrea Nissel