It seems like the perfect solution to a national crisis: At a time when the United States needs a million computer science graduates within the decade—and college costs are spiraling upward—a French telecom billionaire is about to open a state-of-the-art, tuition-free computer coding academy in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The innovative school, simply called 42, doesn’t care about secondary school grades or SAT scores and provides free dorms for up to 300 low-income students. Although it has a goal of educating 10,000 coders over the next five years, 42 won’t have faculty or a syllabus, but it will have classrooms stocked with the latest Apple computers.
For entrance to what seems like a programmer’s utopia, there’s just one qualification: Students have to compete in what’s been called a Hunger Games–style do-or-die competition against other prospective students and take intelligence tests “to make sure the brain works,” as tech entrepreneur Nicolas Sadirac, the school’s director, explained to the Chicago Tribune.
That is where the problems begin, according to critics.