42 is a school without… a diploma!

42 The Network
5 min readMay 9, 2023

A diploma? What for?

Let’s go back to the origin: the word “diploma” comes from the word “diplo”, which means “folded in half” and it dates back… to ancient Greece! Back then, it was the equivalent of identity papers. And since the 17th century, universities have used it as proof that an individual has acquired certain skills. In essence, the diploma acts as a passport: it opens doors to higher education and employment opportunities!

The removal of diplomas — twice!

42 breaks with centuries-old traditions in two ways: by eliminating the need for a diploma upon entry and not awarding diplomas upon exit!

Upon Entry

Let’s be clear: today’s education is traditionally divided into two stages: one that leads up to the diploma for secondary education (ex. “Abitur” in Germany, “High School Diploma” in the USA, “GCSE, and A-levels” in England, etc.) and one that follows it (namely higher education). In Western countries, it is impossible to access higher education without this precious diploma! In fact, there are even alternative diplomas for those who do not have it (for example, Diploma of Access to University Studies in France; Access to Higher Education Diploma in the UK, etc.) We are fooling ourselves if we ignore the fact that the diploma, by selecting who can and cannot enter higher education, is discriminatory.

Good news! At 42, we believe that a traditional education is not the only path to training, especially in computer science. We challenge this outdated notion and offer you a different opportunity. We believe that you are more than a piece of paper. You have skills, talents, and passions that cannot be measured by diplomas or formal qualifications. Furthermore, diplomas or formal qualifications should not hold you back from pursuing your true potential! That’s why 42 doesn’t require a diploma to enroll, and welcomes anyone who wants to learn and grow in computer science, regardless of their academic background. You just need a willingness to explore, experiment, and collaborate. At 42, you will discover that alternative qualities, such as adaptability, problem-solving, and teamwork, are the keys to success in the digital world.

1/ Traditional school is not for everyone. Some people drop out of school and start working, but they are not happy with their situation. They want to learn and grow, but they need a different approach. We offer these individuals a new way of learning that is more practical, hands-on, and self-directed, allowing them to flourish and find their way. At 42, we welcome and appreciate the talents that are often overlooked by the traditional school system and we witness how much they enrich our school every day.

2/ Many educational institutions put people in boxes based on their previous experience. They claim that these criteria are objective and fair, but they are not. Their approach ignores the diversity of people’s backgrounds, interests, and talents. At 42, we do things differently.

Regardless of someone’s background, they can apply to 42. We believe that the best way to discover if programming is for them is to try it out. Practical experience is the core of our method, as it has always been at 42. We trust the students’ motivation, not our assumptions of who can and cannot do it based on some arbitrary criteria.

3/ By not requiring a diploma, 42 can reach people who otherwise wouldn’t have dared to consider a career in computer programming because they had the “wrong” qualifications for the job. This allows 42 to bring together people from diverse backgrounds. This diversity is important for innovation because we can’t generate new ideas without incorporating different points of view. Innovation cannot thrive in a homogeneous and elitist environment where everyone thinks and acts the same. It’s 42’s great strength to have broken the mould of selective schools that contribute to the reproduction of elites. At 42, there is no need to know “the codes” to learn “the code”. Creativity thrives on different ways of thinking and seeing the world.

Upon Exit

Times have changed since the Middle Ages, but mentalities have not. Many people still cling to the idea that a diploma is “proof” of competence. Just as confidence is not something that can be given but earned, we believe that no matter what stamp we put on a piece of paper, it is first and foremost their know-how and interpersonal skills that will enable our alumni to succeed in the job market.

42 does not require a diploma for practical reasons; it is not to provoke a debate. However, we always provide students who ask for it with a certificate that shows that they have completed the 42 program successfully. We understand that some students may want certifications to help them pursue their career goals and overcome the barriers that some traditional employers may impose. To reassure them, we offer the possibility of obtaining the RNCP 6 and RNCP 7 certifications which are recognised at the European level and equivalent to a bachelor and a master. We offer these diplomas as an intermediate step while people transition to the new world where skills are valued over diplomas.

42 is not a typical school. It does not impose a fixed curriculum on its students, thereby allowing them to choose their own level and pace of learning according to their life plans. Our curriculum is consistent in all of our campuses across the world, even in cultures that are very diverse from each other. A lasting trait of the 42 alumni is their ability to adjust to challenges and overcome them. Student satisfaction, delivered every day, is the only diploma that 42 cares about and wants to give to its students!

42 recognises and appreciates the diversity of students’ backgrounds, experiences, and aspirations. We offer them alternative pathways and options to pursue training without the filter or barrier of traditional qualifications. By doing so, we create a more inclusive environment that empowers our students and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

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42 The Network

We make digital an opportunity for all, everywhere. #42Network.