An experimental two-year coding program in San Francisco has a student population that is 40% female and 53% minority. That's more diverse than the makeup of many tech companies that have traditionally drawn their talent from top universities like Stanford and MIT. (Google, for instance, has a technical work force that is just 19% female.) As the New York Times reports, Holberton School in San Francisco's financial district doesn't require that its incoming students have certain degrees or be able to afford a certain tuition. In fact, tuition is free (they're asked to pay back 17% of their salary for three years if they earn $40,000 or more a year), and the entrance exam doesn't require any computer science know-how.
The student body encompasses many backgrounds and ages. Dora Korpar, 25, is going from working at a Trader Joe's in Minnesota to the tech firm Scality, where she'll draw a paycheck while completing her final nine months of study at Holberton. And Max Johnson, a 33-year-old who's ricocheted between low-paying jobs for a decade after studying psychology in college, is living out of his car while he attends because he cannot afford Bay Area rent. There are currently 103 students enrolled, and the curriculum owes itself in part to the school's 120 volunteer mentors, who offered ideas like this one: Students submit projects that are then broken, forcing them to debug and fix them. The Times has more here. (Read more computer programming stories.)