The Value of Pre-Program work

Week four of Phase 0 opened with a different type of challenge. The directions opened, “Some time ago, DBC released a free introductory Ruby mini-course that is now part of our admissions process. That’s cool! … But because the course was released recently, it’s possible that not every student has seen it. That’s awkward.” Although I did not find it awkward per se, it was a reminder that we are unconventional students in the students in that we did not have to go through the regular application and admissions process.  The videos and practice assignments were straight forward and it did not take me the “couple of hours” the assignment page said it would. And yet, Ruby completely kicked my butt this week. It took me so many hours to complete the assignments that I did not work on any other subjects Thursday through early Monday morning because all my time was going towards this week’s module. While I knew it was taking me more than the suggested 15-25 hours/ week, I didn’t expect the weekly email from my DBC advisor to open, “This week might be some nice review from prep you did for your DBC interview or Phase 0, but we’re going to get into some tougher things come Week 5 and 6.” There was no part of last week that was a “nice review”. But, I wish it had been.


Even though it wouldn’t have the same intensity as completing the work for an admissions interview, I think every Davidson student considering doing Phase 0 should be encouraged or required to complete the “Ruby mini-course” over the break before submitting their independent study form. I think this would give students without any coding experience a little taste so they have more reasonable expectations of the work and the time commitment. It would also give incoming students an example of how DBC works, which could alleviate some of the anxiety present in the first week or two of the semester when it feels like there’s an element of blind faith in deciding to commit to the independent study. Finally, hopefully, it would give students some, at least minimal, exposure to Ruby so week four (what in many ways feels like the first “real” week) won’t be such a complete shock. If I hadn’t been able to put everything else on hold this week, I don’t think I could have completed all the work on time this week. Yes, I could have taken a late and used one of my three strikes, but that would have further increased my anxiety about the difficulty of completing the remainder of the semester “in integrity” as both the difficulty increases and my other commitments become more demanding and less negotiable.

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