I’m consistently impressed by what I see from the seniors. Only six weeks ahead of us, they show off impressive technical capabilities. They work naturally in groups and are, on the whole, very pleasant for interaction. I have absolute faith I will be there in six short weeks as well. It's quite exciting to consider.
When debating my decision, the issue of timing came up. While I could eventually reach the same skillet on my own, I'd probably not accomplish it as quickly. There are two reasons for this.
Reason 1: part of what makes me a successful self-learner and engineer is that I doggedly pursue topics I don't understand. I will hound it until I fully grasp almost every detail about the concept. It allows me to follow rabbit holes to their completion and generally return with a successful search. At Hack Reactor, we're given a mere two days to explore the space of a topic. During those two days we will need to fulfill particular requirements that demonstrate comprehension on different levels. At the end of the sprint, it's on to the next topic; you must leave the old on behind -- unfinished threads and all. I think of it as extreme time boxing. Maybe I'd be able to replicate it on my own, but it likely wouldn't last long.
Reason #2: I have better stamina here. I've consistently spent 14 hrs a day at the Hack Reactor space. Sort of like being at work, I find myself more self-motivated while there. It's easier to stay focused. There's a crew of ~30 others to hold each other accountable to doing our best. The network effect is powerful here, keeping us on point. While I've successfully pulled off 70 hr work weeks before, I was left far more exhausted by the end, and it was less solely focused on programming. With HR, I am compelled to not dither with other matters. And with a $17,000 price tag hanging over my head, I am making sure to make the experience worthwhile.
So far I've had great success. I ended up solo for this last sprint. Not by choice -- the topic wasn't particularly interesting -- but there it is. I completed some of the extra credit (image uploading). I would've completed more, but I focused a lot on the fundamental learning objectives (subclassing and inheritance), employing the concepts as much as possible to cement them in my mind.
Today we focus on algorithms. It's the one other sprint where we deliberately pair with someone of equal technical level. I'm working with someone who has a CS degree should be a good ride, perhaps even a challenge for me to keep up. I'm looking forward to it.
Also, I'm getting my new keyboard! At the recommendation of an HIR (Hacker-In-Residence), I purchased a special split keyboard. It's actually split into two separate components, so it can allow your elbows to rest at a natural alignment under your shoulder sockets. I tried one out before purchasing, I'm super excited about it.