Well Hackerschool is nearly over now and the next batch application deadline is nearing. If you're a potential applicant wondering: "Is Hackerschool for me?" -- then maybe this post about my experience will help you figure that out.
Hackerschool is an unstructured programming education program done right. The good folks who facilitate Hackerschool do not tell you to build x, or today we're going to learn y, but rather -- only you decide what you'll work on. How could this ever work? Well simply put, Hackerschool is not something you do to get a degree, a certificate, or a job. The people who do Hackerschool are legitimately passionate about programming. And the only reason you would or should want to do Hackerschool is because you too are passionate about programming and want to program for 3 months straight with no distractions.
And hell, you have to be passionate about programming to spend 3 months doing nothing but programming and not getting paid for it. And that is the essence of Hackerschool. You can occasionally hack around on off time, but committing along with dozens of other programmers to do nothing but hack for 3 months straight takes serious dedication.
So what do people actually do and hack on in Hackerschool? Tons of things: some learn languages, others build languages, some learn frameworks, others build frameworks, some write scrapers, others contribute to existing libraries, some write apps, others write kernel modules... and this list goes on. The list goes on because what you do in Hackerschool is entirely up to you. For me, I spent my time learning C, building a window manager, and doing some Ruby, Smalltalk, Lisp, and Io. Additionally I contributed to a lot of the software I use on a daily basis.
Finally, being in Hackerschool is a lot like being a hacker. It is a lifelong commitment, as long as you call yourself a hacker, you should be hacking. For the students and alumni of Hackerschool, there is a phrase that gets passed around a lot: "never graduate". Hackers don't stop hacking just because "Hackerschool" is over, in fact hackers never stop hacking. Hackers contribute to open source projects, learn things, and build cool things. So should you do Hackerschool? Well -- are you a hacker?