Tess Ryan

"I have been surprised by how willing the teachers, mentors and other classmates are to help you when a problem arises, whether in school or out."

  • First job: Nanny for family friends.
  • Things she can't live without: My family and friends. And Haribo Gold-Bears!
  • Tess in three words: Fun, weird, hardworking

Why are you at Starter School?

I came to Starter School to learn how to build web applications and to change the direction of my professional and personal life. I only signed up for the first three months, but loved the experience so much that I signed up for three more!

What's one thing that you have been surprised by at Starter School?

I have been surprised by how willing the teachers, mentors and other classmates are to help you when a problem arises, whether in school or out.

Is there one experience that stands out for you at Starter School?

The first hackathon definitely stands out to me because I had never taken part in one before, and I didn’t really know what it involved. Prior to Starter School, I always assumed the goal of a hackathon was to hack into some unnamed system and do some harm. I quickly learned it was not. It was exciting to see how much people were able to accomplish in 24 hours.

Also, whirlyball.

What was the first day of Starter School like?

The first day was exciting and a little nerve racking. But just like every other day since, we dove in headfirst and started learning right away.

How do you explain Starter School to your friends, family, and/or significant others?

I describe Starter School as an accelerated programming school that teaches you how to build the back-end and front-end of web applications. The school also teaches by inviting respected individuals from the community to speak about technology, design, entrepreneurship, and their own experiences.

What makes Starter School different than other classes/schools you've been to?

Starter School stands on its own because of how it is structured. It is a completely different way of learning than college in that it is completely immersive.

What are you building right now?

I just built a blog that pulls in real time information as data points for the blogger. For my first trimester project I built an application that would allow homeless shelters to register occupants, which would in-turn record which homeless shelters, around Chicago, were full and identify those who have open beds. It still needs a lot of work and research, but I am happy with what I have been able to build so far.

What would you say to someone interested in joining Starter School?

I would tell them how much I have enjoyed the experience, that I have learned more than I ever could have imagined, that the teachers and topics are amazing, and to apply now.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Besides my family, I am inspired by design, both good and bad. Good design excites me and pushes me to learn as much as I can so that one day I can build something that other people love. Bad design makes me aware of how important it is to keep it simple and make sure it works.

What's something you've done in your life that you're most proud of?

I would say taking a risk to go back to school for something I didn’t know much about was a pretty great decision.



Tuition for Starter School is $12,000 per quarter, excluding housing, materials, and personal expenses. A refundable deposit of $3,000 will be required in order to confirm your acceptance. One week before the start of each quarter a payment of $12,000 must be made. For example, the Winter quarter begins on January 6, so a payment of $12,000 would be due no later than December 30.

Cost Breakdown
Fall quarter -$12,000
Winter quarter $12,000
Spring quarter $12,000
Total $24,000

Do you offer loans and scholarships?

Currenty we don't offer loans or financial aid. However, we are actively working with loan providers and the government to make Starter School more affordable. In the meantime, please reach out to us at support@starterschool.com so we can learn more about your situation.

How have other students financed their tuition?

Our students have creatively raised funds for Starter School in numberous ways. They've sourced online donations, secured company sponsorship, created friends and family loans, and even sold their cars. The students who have given up the most tend to get the most out of the program. They treat it like a serious, life-changing investment— which is exactly what it is.

A New Way to Pay For Starter School

We are excited to announce a partnership with Upstart, a platform that allows individuals to get financial investment to pursue their dream careers. This partnership allows current students and future Starter School students to raise funding for Starter School tuition.

Here are the requirements to qualify for Upstart:

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident currently living in the US
  2. Be at least 18 years old;
  3. Have a valid e-mail account;
  4. Have a verifiable name, date of birth, and social security number
  5. Have graduated from a 4-year (bachelor's degree) accredited college in 1995 or later or be accepted by and soon to enroll in a 4-year accredited (bachelor's degree) college;
  6. Have an account at a U.S. financial institution with a routing transit number; and
  7. Meet our minimum credit requirements.