Looking for advice_Young Architects Bootcamp vs stepup_For PDD PPD

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    Arielle Lapp

    Hi Niknaz, I was also hesitant about bootcamp initially b/c of the pricetag.  After a disappointing PDD fail, I finally decided that if time was money and bootcamp could reduce that time, it was worth it.  I enrolled for February YA Bootcamp and it was a total gamechanger.  Studying with YA community helped me realize which topics I was totally skipping over w/o realizing and seek out answers in the official reference material.  Bootcamp is not about memorization, it's about understanding concepts and having a community of people who are also working to understand and apply those concepts.  I subsequently passed PDD, despite the pandemic disruptions, in large part due to the YA community who cheered me on along the way.  YA is hosting a virtual conference called the Winter Series in January - highly recommend attending if you want to get a feel for the community.

    I haven't heard about stepup coaching, but it sounds like it might be helpful.  Personally, I prefer engaging with a larger community instead of one-on-one.

    Bottom line: YA Bootcamp is worth it and I wish I'd enrolled sooner to waste a lot of time and frustration.  

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    Saritza Martinez Rodriguez

    I started passing my exams after I completed the YA Bootcamp! It was the best investment I have done during this process ... I spent more on failed exams before joining so I do believe it pays off. I have recommended it to friends as well and they have not been disappointed. Good luck with your journey, I hope this helps!

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    Katie Merten

    With the Bootcamp price, you get access to soooo much support and online tools that you cannot access anywhere else.  I would not be where I am without the Bootcamp.  I have made so many friends and supported so many friends through their ARE journeys.  

    I, too, have not heard of this stepup coaching.  If it's one on one and that's more your jamb, then maybe it's worthwhile to check it out.  The Bootcamp, like Arielle said, is a HUGE, SUPPORTIVE community.  

    I enrolled in Bootcamp to start my AREs, as I had (and have) been out of school for awhile and needed a program to follow to figure things out.  The Bootcamp is that.  It teaches you how to learn, read, comprehend.  It's not a shortcut.  You have to do the work.  I'm glad I enrolled when I did.  

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    Agustina Sklar

    Hey Niknaz, 

    I hear you.

    When I first learned about the BootCamp price, I was for sure hesitant. I was not all that excited to drop that amount of cash again BUTTT the "almost 1K" is entirely worth it. The community you have will be alongside you well beyond the 10 weeks that BootCamp lasts.  It's an accountability database and a group of individuals who 10000000% understand where you are and how badly you dont want to be there. PPD and PDD are entirely different exams from the Pro Prac ones. I needed to learn how to study for them and BootCamp helped me do just that. The material covered and the way in which it's looked at is different. You're not just reading things-you constantly making connections, asking questions, and really truly understanding the concepts. It sealed the deal for me. 

    I had PA, PPD and PDD left at the start of this year and now i'm FINALLY done. I enrolled in August of just this year and I was able to hyper-focus my studying with the community. I encourage you to look through the website and listen to some of the success stories. 


    Best of luck

    -A

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    Kristen Stanford

    Hi!!
    Congrats on getting 4 tests done already!
    I just passed my last test about a month ago and I will tell you that I could not have passed all my tests without the Bootcamp. While it is a daunting number, it’s a huge investment in yourself. I can use what I learned about studying techniques to use for the future on other professional tests. I have also made a ton of friends that I know I’ll keep in touch with. Those are the added bonuses from the group.

    In the Bootcamp you have access to so much! Study materials from the Bootcamp, study materials and notes from other bootcampers current and past, discounts on other study materials, etc. I even changed how I studied when I moved onto PDD and PPD.

    Please feel free to reach out to me Kristen.joaquim@gmail.com if I can answer any questions! I am passionate about the Bootcamp and how it helped me!

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    Julie Foley

    Hi Niknaz,

    I'm proud of you for continuing this journey. It's not an easy one! I see quite a few reviews for YA bootcamp. I'm going to agree and echo everything else I see about it. The one time investment is SIGNIFICANTLY more than a study group. It's a support system, resources, personal coaching, networking, tips/tricks/techniques, a community, a giant share file of resources and practices questions too. Way more than the dollars you're spending. It's a one time fee and you're all set for the next two exams. Yes, both PDD and PPD. It's an investment. Just like taking these exams and getting your license. It's worth it! 

    I tried going it alone for several years. Then I researched and looked at the 'study for multiple exams at once' method boasted by a few of the prominent prep courses. Didn't work when I did it myself. I'm grateful that bootcamp helped me pass three exams. (small break for the holidays) and then my one time investment will be helping me with the next three exams. I would consider it! I'm also here if you have any questions!

    Julie

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    Jennifer Meng

    Hi niknaz aftahi,

    Recent YA Bootcamper here who finally passed her last two tests PPD and PDD 2 weeks ago. I can't speak to Step-Up, but I can tell you about YA. I know the pricetag is steep, and to be honest, there a bit more your going to have to pay because you're going to need to buy the resources and basic study material (like Architect's Studio Companion, MEEB, Ballast, Amber Books or Architect Exam Prep Material,etc), but it is well worth it for the plethora of information and support you will receive after joining. The program is not just a "follow the syllabus and you will pass"-- it involves becoming a part of a greater network. This network includes current bootcampers in the same boat as you as well as alumni who are still invested in helping those still testing. YA alums are so passionate, that some have even come out with their own quizzes, notes and study guides! The resources and information given to you as a bootcamper seems infinite. It is completely up to you to utilize it. From daily meet ups (virtual group study sessions) to links to helpful Youtube videos, these all become part of the "curriculum" that are at your disposal. I should also add that the YA facebook group is fantastic for encouragement and support. 

    A little about my experience, I passed 6 out of 7 tests in ARE 4.0, I did not pass structures before I was forced to switch to 5.0. When I did switch to 5.0, I could not for the life of me pass PPD and PDD. I finally enrolled in Bootcamp and put the work in every week with our group. Due to Covid, my tests got rescheduled and also had to push out some dates because I was pregnant. First time I took PPD after Bootcamp, I passed. Scheduled PDD as soon as possible. Again, passed PDD after Bootcamp. I'm not saying you absolutely need bootcamp. There are people who are great at aggregating their own study materials, sticking to a schedule, creating their own routine. But if you're lost and don't know where to start, or have tried to pass too many times but still fail, I would highly recommend Bootcamp. Proud to say I'll be returning to work as a mom and newly minted Architect! 

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    Gloria Kloter

    Hi Niknaz,

    I can only speak from my personal experience. I’m originally from the Dominican Republic and English is my second language. I struggled A LOT with these exams and I just couldn’t figure things out at the beginning. Then I found the ARE Bootcamp and everything changed for the better.

    I found a community that was extremely and exceptionally supportive. I got so much guidance and structure from Mike, and everything got way more clear on what I needed to do to successfully reach my goal of transferring my architect’s license to the USA. His program and system helped me to be more efficient while in the exams and how to use the time wisely.

    I’m now a registered architect and I know that I wouldn’t have done it on my own in the short time I did. I don’t think there’s any other program out there for ARE candidates that as as complete as the ARE Bootcamp is. To me, taking the Bootcamp was the best investment I ever did in my licensing journey. I highly recommend it.

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    Melissa Cheing

    The YA Bootcamp is worth every penny and more. It's not just for passing these tests, it truly will make you a better architect. Michael has put together a community of amazing people with the goal of helping each other pass these tests. I cannot tell you how happy I am having joined. I failed PCM early this year and then COVID happened. I started the Bootcamp in mid August because I didn't know where to start, a few months later and passed three tests in a row (PJM 10/26, PCM 11/23 and CE 12/11), now getting ready for PA, PPD and PDD. It seems I will be done in less than a year! This is all thanks to the YA Bootcamp, no other program has the community, support, accountability! Just go for it.

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    Luciana Triplett

    Hi Niknaz,

    Congratulations on passing 4 exams! PPD and PDD were the exams that I studied the longest and the hardest… I am not familiar with the other program you’ve mentioned, but I know YA Bootcamp very well and agree with what everyone else is saying about it! It was by far the best investment I’ve done during my ARE journey! I passed 6 exams during my time in bootcamp (PPP from 4.0, PPD, CE, PDD, PcM and PjM). I recently passed my last exam on November 11, so I am waiting for my license... You will get there too!!

    When you join bootcamp you will learn how to create a better study discipline, and you will follow a suggested syllabus that will make you feel accountable to the group to keep up with the weekly assignments, among other things. But there is more to it! Bootcamp doesn’t last only the 10 weeks of the program when you have your weekly group meetings. When you become an alumni you can sign up to keep enrolled (for a small fee) and have access to daily meetups, as well as the group resources, for as long as you wish, so you can keep studying with everyone in the community until you pass both exams! Those meetups are invaluable because we learn how to create our own questions, we participate in group discussions, we read books together and come up with questions for each chapter, we organize study sessions based on topics, we share resources and methods of studying, we create funny mnemonics to help memorize some topics, we help each other as we grow our knowledge, and we have fun studying together, even on Friday nights! This is just a small example of the experience of being part of a group of people who is ethical, extremely supportive and share the same goals as you. The diversity of the group is just amazing and you will gain a support system that will NOT allow you to give up, even on your lowest moments! So besides all these advantages I’ve mentioned, you will also make a lot of new friends and meet future professional colleagues. I fell blessed to say I have friends all over the country because of YA Bootcamp! I highly suggest that you join the next available group! :)

    Wishing you the best on your personal journey and that you get licensed in 2021!!

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    Maijosh Giraut

    Good Evening Niknaz,

    I agree 100% with all the comments above.
    I joined Bootcamp back in 2017 to pass PPP at the time , since I could not seem to pass it studying on my own. Joining YA Bootcamp was a life changer. Not only does it help you become a better architect, but the community and network that you build is absolutely priceless.
    This is an investment in your future., and believe me it takes a couple or more fails to realize that the Bootcamp is totally worth the price.
    Take it from someone that has done black spectacles, Amber videos, Architect exam prep group coach course, they are fine study materials, but nothing compares to the accountability and sense of community that you get from YA Bootcamp.
    I haven’t heard about the step up program so can’t speak for that.
    PPD and PDD are really tough exams, and having the YA community as part of your study is essential to passing them , in my opinion.
    I wish you the best in your studies, and hope that you join the YA community!!!!

    Cheers and good luck with PPD and PDD!

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    Maria Shook

    Niknaz,
    YA was absolutely the best decision I've made when I signed up few years ago. I was in the same boat thinking about $$, trust me it worth much much more than enrolment fee.
    If it wasn't for Bootcamp I would not pass all my tests. Tremendous help from other Bootcampers, there is always someone who is happy to help and explain any questions you have. There are also countless amount of materials that will help you with studies.
    I would recommend YA bootcamp program to anyone without a doubt!
    Wishing you a good luck! 👍

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    niknaz aftahi

    Thank you all SOOO much for sharing your experiences with me! and thanks for all the support and kind words! Can't believe I received 12 responses in one day!! Even though $1k still seems like a lot of money to me, but with all your testimonies and words of encouragement, I think I have to sign-up to YA bootcamp! :) Thanks so much again and best of luck to you all!

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    Liza Bajarias (Edited )

    Step up is NOT worth it.  Email me for details.  Me and two others demanded our money back, we couldn't even finish the whole program we were so pissed.  I took bootcamp for PCM/PJM 2 years ago and passed the first trifecta.  Then life happened, 2 years later, I wanted to get momentum for PPD/PDD so I tried Step up since it's all I can afford at that time.  It sounds like a steal.  But that's what it is, our money was stolen - and we had such a bad experience that the emotional toll set us back instead of getting back into the momentum.  I'm so embarrassed I even tried.  After the program, you only have about 2 weeks then no more support (more like pep talk) or access to study guides - which is not much.  The whole thing is amateurish...  Thank goodness I still have access to Bootcamp resources after all these years of being an alumni.  Quality is what you get for Bootcamp.  Beware of Step Up.

     

    Update:  When she found out my negative review, she lashed out and exposed my partial records on facebook from StepUp and called me a "slacker" (the same name-calling she did with the other member -called him a slacker for failing the exam multiple times and looking for a short cut?!).  To be fair - the first week I checked out the program - it was just me and another person - so how was that conducive to group discussion - weren't supposed to be at least 6?  I asked her how to go about using the discussion - she didn't know.  The sources are bare minimum for example - week 2 there were 4 images: door hands, flashing, brick patterns... and told us to read these pages in Ballast - really important to know concepts, and a link to fema...  there's some basic quizzes, then we had a meetup/teaching session which was more like pep talks on psychology of learning and overviews on topics when we needed in depth and nuanced guidance to our questions.  It is nothing close for example to Amber, Theaddeus, Mitalski where they actually teach content and stretch you to learn better, or BootCamp meetups where you can freely learn from each other and WITHOUT being called a slacker.  We had logging in confusion and glitches to WEBEX meetup - sometimes we had two-40 minute sessions - so we spend over 80 minutes waiting for invite, waiting for each other, and fluff talk.  The practice tests she has I could get more in quantity and quality from other resources (DHack, PPI, WeARE, Elif's practice exams, Bootcamp alumni meetups...).  Her syllabus was also minimal - read ASC/Ballast pages, know these concepts, here's a link...  I assessed what was accessible through week 6 and just shaking my head - this is it?  

    The _first_ week I assessed and decided the program was not going to give me the learning environment, group, or guidance and asked for refund.  I couldn't dive into the program I had paid - so I tried not to explore more to not 'access' information that were available (not all were accessible yet) so I can perhaps get a partial refund - anything - and just move on to other sources smoothly.  She said I couldn't get a refund since I already accessed information and gone to some meetups.  And then berated me that I was a slacker for not going through the whole program and having the 'nerve' to express publicly what I thought of the whole service.  

    This so called 'coach' is a bully.  The whole process with NCARB as well as the content is already overwhelming.  $250 is a big deal to me and it makes me so angry that I had to spend that to be eventually harassed by a newby 'coach' who bulldozes her way into test takers and can't take criticism without name calling - this is nothing short of distressing.  BEWARE of STEP UP.  

    I am now signed up as a BootCamp alumni and actively engaged in PPD/PDD meetups - the schedule is full - there's almost always one everyday and sometimes 4 meetups in a day.  Mike also referred me to the current syllabus and week one has a lot more structure and information that will stretch you.  The solid community/network and the leadership and support from BootCamp has gotten me back on the right track - and it's important that they're encouraging and helpful.  There's less anxiety of perhaps failing the exam because it's a part of learning - not because you haven't done enough.  I am enough and I can do this.

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    Denisa Wohnoutka (Edited )

    I am going to be as level as I can with this. Boot Camp is going to have you get even more materials. I know that it sounds scary to buy even more materials but they also have discounts on those materials, they have also procured the best materials and also helped narrow down which resources have the most information in them to learn from. I think though that the biggest benefit is the community and network that it provides with other future Architects who are struggling especially with these 2 exams. I too was having a lot of trouble passing the last 2 exams and was in sticker shock about taking the class. I went ahead and made the investment. I think that it was worth it because like Michael says it's more like a coaching than a teaching. You already kind of know what you need to do you just need the resources to keep you going everyday and the support (hey you have got this.) and people to work with everyday if you want. I went to meetups every day and would read a 2-4 chapters in a book in a week and watch videos about the information while relaxing. to me though, the meetups are key, so if I just couldn't manage reading all of the material that I had planned or watching the videos that I thought I would, I would just go to the meetups and maybe even have more motivation to read a specific chapter. 

     

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    Churchill Banks

    The Bootcamp is worth the money!  They structure of the camp provides a different point of view to studying for these exams.  The relationships I have created have motivated me to get over the hump.  Still have a few to finish but I know I have folks rooting for me.  

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    Margaret Shannon

    Hi, honestly there is not much more to say else I will sound like a broken record. though I am in the Practice Exam section, not in the technical portion of the 6 exams, once I finally decided to sign up for the Young Architect's Boot Camp it was a game changer for me. Not that I have passed every exam on the first shot, but to get me focused and feel supported. I honestly would not be taking these exams with such focus, determination and fortitude if it was not for the YA Boot Camp. Yes, it is expensive, but it is more expensive not passing my exams, the implications of not being licensed, and the emotional toll - of not having the YA boot camp support during this important time. I have no regrets. The in person meet ups are great- creating a hivemind and meeting new friends for support etc. The online material and videos are so personal, not to mention I have reached out to Michael a handful of times and he immediately responds with a personal phone call to give support and advice. I finished my Masters Degree in Architecture 20 years ago- to to get back in the game and feel focused when I have so many other distractions such as children and work and my parents' health etc. - (and my husband ;-) ) - is a miracle. I really would not be in the game and feel so determined to pass all these exams if it were not for Michael's YA Boot Camp. Thank you, Michael and good luck. 

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    Emi Furuya Nix

    Hi Niknaz!

    I am very familiar with the struggle you're currently facing. I, too, kept going back and forth on whether to invest on ARE Bootcamp or any other expensive study sources, for that matter. The decision to enroll took me a good month, and the only regret I have now that I have completed all exams, is not joining any earlier. The expense may seem large at the moment, but the Bootcamp will teach you SO MUCH more than what you will learn going the distance on your own. After you take that step and you are done with the AREs, you will realize how minute that expense was and how much you have benefitted in return-- all the resources you will gain, the study groups, study buddies, and even longtime friendships. I hope that you decide to join.

    As for the other bootcamp you mentioned, I have nothing to say about it as I had never heard of it.

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    Emily Burton

    Hi Niknaz, I 've been in a similar situation as you, and was so frustrated after PPD and PDD several times. I kept scheduling new exams, and did not want to spend more than the cost of the exam for a retake. Yet, I kept failing. It quickly became clear that I needed to do something different, and I chose to sign up for Young Architect's bootcamp. It is expensive, but I assure you, it's worth MUCH more than it's 1K price tag. In bootcamp you're connected a large group in the same place as you, with equal eagerness to finally pass these exams. Being connected is important, because I had been studying alone for years with a very low success rate. Being given a study group kept me accountable, and also makes studying less torturous and mundane. I've also become quiet close to my study group and can easily see them as becoming future collaborators and partners on projects. The study sessions with my groups were essential in my passing, and I finally completed my last exam two weeks ago. I honestly recommend making the investment in YA Bootcamp if you feel "stuck," as I did. You will cross the ARE finish line feeling strong!

    I've not heard of step-up and cannot speak to it. I truly believe Young Architect works towards building strong Architects who will lead the profession, and not just 'pass the exams'. Good luck with everything and hope to see you in the YA community!

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    YaVaughn Harlston (Edited )

    Hi Niknaz,

    I was struggling to pass the last three 5.0 exams after I switched over from 4.0. I didn't know how to really approach these exams. After I failed PPD back in November 2018, I was approached and asked to try YA bootcamp. I was hesitant at first because of the price, but they are willing to work with you and you can do a payment plan. I joined YA bootcamp in January 2019. You get a syllabus to follow and your group meet every week for about 11 weeks(?). You will also participate in what are call meetups. I met some amazing people and it's great to learn from others and their way of thinking about answers to questions. The support from others is valuable. If I hadn't joined YA Bootcamp, I wouldn't have passed my last exam 2 weeks ago. I posted my journey on the ARE Facebook Group.

    At the end of the day, you get what you paid for and cheap doesn't equate to quality. Everyone on this community post, I have/still interact with and will continue to interact with although I'm done. Besides joining YA Bootcamp to pass the exams you gain a lot of friends, which is a plus.

    Good luck to you!

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    niknaz aftahi

    Thanks so much everyone for valuable comments and insights! I signed up for YA Feb bootcamp! and can't wait to be done with PDD and PPD hopefully soon!! Thanks again for all the awesome advices and support. 

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