How to pursue an IT degree THE RIGHT WAY! Giving back to the forum and future IT pros

[Deleted User][Deleted User] Senior MemberPosts: 0 ■■□□□□□□□□
Hey Forum

It is hard to believe that 2 years ago I was finishing up my final year in college and it is actually my 2 year anniversary of getting my CCNA R&S!!! (Time to recertify) ;)

But this got me thinking, I have been so fortunate to have the money I have now, the job I currently have and the certifications I have been able to pursue and still pursuing at my age and not have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from, I wanted to enlighten new students entering college how to pursue your IT degree the right way and give back to the forum and community that helped me out during my first certification back in 2012 and now having around 17 certifications at my age (which I don't want to say!!)

Here is my guide to pursuing an IT degree at a traditional public university THE RIGHT WAY!!
(Note this guide doesn't really apply to an online university like WGU since there really aren't any distractions like at a traditional university)

So this guide will include steps on pursuing certifications while doing a degree in a regular 4 year college (This plan usually is for a 5 years since I took 5 years for my degree but modify where necessary)

Step 1:

Find a public university that has a degree in Information Technology. Look at the curriculum to see what topics are covered (Unix administration, Network administration, Security, Web development, databases) etc .
Apply, get accepted, all that fun stuff.

Step 2: Year 1
Sign up for your General education courses and take a few IT classes (programming classes) to get used to the college lifestyle, final exams, midterms living with people in the dorms etc. Meet new friends with same interests as you, same passions etc!!
Use your first year as the time to have fun and learn the university and get used to college because it will take a year to get into the swing of things and you don't want to throw any certs into a lifestyle change like college!!

Stick to around 15 credit hours per semester do this for both semester 1 and 2!

Summer going into year 2:

Relax!! you earned it!!

Step 3: Year 2

Ok so at this point you should know the way your college operates and what to expect with your college classes learn the workload for your classes!

If you haven't cracked by the end of your first year or drop out!! ;) then continue reading!! :)

Now that you have some classes done and have a layout of how many years it will take you to graduate, TIME TO HIT THE BOOKS!

Most IT degrees will involve a hardware/software class. I would strongly recommend pursuing the CompTIA A+ certification during those classes to not only reinforce the material being taught in the classes, but to pass the A+ exam at the end of the semester will make your final exam for class a lot easier, get a good grade for your class to maintain a solid GPA and get a certification at the same time for resume boosting! If they are offered as 2 different classes, take them @ the same time and do the A+ cert along with the classes during semester 1 of Year 2.

During semester 2 of Year 2, start looking at the Network+ certification since it is only 1 exam to earn it to gain more theory based networking knowledge (trust me it will help you with your networking classes later on).
Sign up for your classes that work best for you for general education classes. Since a semester usually lasts around 4 months, that is more then enough time to pass the Network+.

Again, 12-15 credit hours per semester is recommended.

Summer going into year 3:

Yes summer time!! Perfect time to do a cert I might add!! ;)
Spend your summer studying for the Security+. Again it's 1 exam, and won't take up all of your summer and can still enjoy things with friends etc. But you don't want to lose the IT knowledge and study habits since you will need them in your career!
With no college classes going on (or if you choose to take a summer class) the workload isn't overbearing.

1 summer class is allowed

Step 4: Year 3

Yes!! Halfway done with college, you have some classes done, have some certifications (provided you pass), now what?
Well at this time, start looking for an internship somewhere or pursue another certification depending on what works best for you or if you degree requires an internship. Some do some don't.

If they don't require an internship, consider looking at taking the CCENT certification during this starting semester.
During this time, take again 12-15 credit hours during this semester

If an internship is required, do the internship and skip the certification.

Semester 2 of year 3: If you did the CCENT the previous semester, spend this semester taking the CCNA R&S certification (ICND2). Do this and only your classes! Do not take the combined CCNA when in college. It is not recommended due to the large amount of material!

Summer going into year 4:

Ok you are probably burned out from certifications, that is expected cause it happened to me!
Spend this time not focusing on certifications but explore other areas of IT that may interest you, maybe virtualization? penetration testing? Big data perhaps? Spend this summer thinking about where you may want to take your career and the direction you want to start going into since graduation is around the corner (well almost)

Step 5: Year 4

Man it's like Hogwarts with a new year a new journey!! :) Unless you are taking 5 years for your degree (like I did) this is probably your final year in college! icon_sad.gif
But not to worry, there is still more to do! :)
Since you have some certifications under your belt, spend this final year working on your coding skills from your previous classes!
Depending on the languages taught in your classes, consider teaching yourself a new language!

Ex: I taught myself Powershell during my final year in college and it paid off!

Having automation knowledge (programming), certifications, degree and experience is the key to getting a job out of college with a solid GPA (above 3.0 is fine)!

Unless you plan on taking 5 years for your degree, go to your school career fair and let your resume shine!! :)

The recruiters at the career fair will be impressed with your resume and all the years of hard work will pay off when they say "WOW that's a lot of certifications" :)

When you get called in for interviews and possibly a job offer, there is no greater feeling in the world (besides passing you exam)

If you decide to go for 1 more year making it a total of 5, spend that year doing the following:

1. Pursue a certification of your choice
2. Work on automation
3. Look at different areas in IT that you may want to explore in your career and make a roadmap!

Well I hope this didn't sound like a diet plan!! ;)
I just wanted to share my success plan when I went into college, got my degree, graduated with a good GPA, got certifications, some experience and now make a lot of money for my age!! :)

Thanks to the forum that provided me insight into the world of certifications and made learning fun!!

Well hope you future college students find this guide helpful!!

Keep calm and carry on!!


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    faintingheartfaintingheart Member Posts: 256
    Wow, thanks for the great information. Very very helpful. :)
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    IsmaeljrpIsmaeljrp Member Posts: 480 ■■■□□□□□□□
    This is a very nice guide to getting an IT career started for someone fresh out of high school. The Comptia certs will just complement the degree in terms of the knowledge covered. I'd do this if I could go back to my college days, but I at least did the CCNA right after my 3rd year. Once I did that CCNA I was so far above everyone else in my class when it came to networking. There wasn't nearly as much ambition from my classmates as I thought.

    I'd definitely recommend learning programming and linux early on. That can lead to someone perhaps digging into more development and Database type stuff, which the Comptia topics don't really lead into. Perhaps getting a minor in Computer Science, as in, pure programming would be of interest as well.
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