Help me choose a technical or trade college for IT administration.
December 9, 2009 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Help me research technical schools/colleges for IT, CS and systems administration.

I'm looking for a technical school/college along the lines of ITT or similar schools that are affordable and offer financial aid application assistance.

I want to learn and brush up on computer/IT administration with a focus on systems/server administration. Specifically Windows Server 2008, Macintosh OS X as well as a side course in Vista and Windows 7.

I'm interested both AA and BA programs.

Please feel free to also name programs to avoid like the plague.

(For the record, I have about a decade of real world IT work and I am returning to school as an independent adult.)
posted by loquacious to Education (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
it would help to know the state you live in
posted by majortom1981 at 12:36 PM on December 9, 2009

Please feel free to also name programs to avoid like the plague.

well, ITT would be one. Over-priced and under-technical was the word on the street a year or three ago. In fact, I've don't think I've ever heard a good word about any non-college IT program.

If you don't currently have a degree, I'd think a two year degree program at the local technical college would be exactly what you'd need. If you do, then a shorter cram course and related certs would seem to be the best bet.
posted by anti social order at 1:30 PM on December 9, 2009

What's your goal here?

By far the best value for your money will be the "corporate IT training" places that run boot camps. I would look at training centers that market more towards corporations than individuals. Usually you can take it as an individual but they spend all their marketing on the 5-person $6,000 packages. I have friends who love these things, they usually do them department wide to boost morale and it keeps everyone up to date. Anything longer than 2-3 days on Windows 2008 and you'd best be focusing on some aspect of it like Active Directory or IIS. Of course spend that much time on something and you might as well install it on Linux and save the licensing fee.
posted by geoff. at 2:02 PM on December 9, 2009

If you have a decade of real world IT experience, there is absolutely nothing that an AA or BA in IT would give you, career-wise, except the ability to check the "college graduate" box. Nothing. This goes double if you're going to be taking out loans to get it. Sysadmin and other IT operations skills are not something that can be taught well in a classroom or lab setting, and skills learned in the classroom are heavily discounted by hiring managers in IT.

Do a boot camp or a one/two week certification program if you want to get familiar with Win 2008 (go ahead and get a MSCE, which some hiring managers like to see, if they're a Windows shop. But if you actually want a cert that's meaningful, go for a Cisco CCIE or independent CISSP... possibly the only certifications that are actually hard enough to get that they're worthwhile)
posted by toxic at 3:05 PM on December 9, 2009

Well, I just put in an application for an adjunct position at our college, and support a number of computing classses. I also have a 4 year degree and substantial credit towards a Master's. I also work with Ubuntu open source. Which means what I'm about to write is heavily biased.

Firstly, you conflate CS with IT administration, and it's just not the same. National accreditation for Computer Science doesn't mention the words Windows or OSX in the curriculum requirements. I'll assume you're not actually interested in a CS degree given the content of the rest of the post. If in fact you are considering it, I highly recommend you check for CSAB accreditation.

Secondly, vendor certifications are kinda sketchy. I'd rather have someone trainable in anything than card carrying vendor salesman. Also, the halflife for knowledge is very short. How long before Windows 8 or the next Windows Server? It's the same for RHEL certs and friends. When a person's selling point is RHEL certification, how do they feel about switching to Debian / Ubuntu / Fedora to save money on support contracts? You have to keep paying for certification to stay competitive on the market, or build a portfolio that convinces people in their absence.

Finally, there's no accreditation for sysadmin degrees to ensure what's being taught is still relevant. For example, I just fixed up our Solaris / telnet server. Yes, we teach some students telnet and FTP, and I don't have an explanation why this is done when SSH is damn near universal now and handles both securely. I'm tempted to write an anonymous letter to the technology curriculum committee expressing displeasure with the state of affairs.

My personal suggestion is to use an AA IT program that segues into CS bachelor's. Before you decide who to go with, ask them to state in writing that their credits transfer to a specific institution you'd go to, and verify it independently. You should be able to get out of some gen ed that way, and maybe even knock out some lower level technical classes like intro to programming.
posted by pwnguin at 3:19 PM on December 9, 2009

The University of North Texas has a Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology that may be of interest to you. UNT is a public school that can do all of the usual federal student aid programs (loans, grants, work-study, etc) and has scholarships. You can contact the Computer Science and Engineering department in the College of Engineering. This may not be the ideal program for you if you're looking to work full time and go to school, but UNT is of a far higher academic stature than an entity like ITT, DeVry or "University" of Phoenix.

I went to UNT before transferring to my current school, and did not leave happy, but not for academic reasons. From what I have been told by people who graduated after I did, most/all of the problems in the CoE have been fixed and were as a result of the CoE being split off from the College of Arts and Sciences on main campus.
posted by fireoyster at 3:47 PM on December 9, 2009

PS If you're just looking for a degree rather than learning about something new in a classroom setting (vs spending a weekending dicking around with it) ... Management in Information Services may be what you're looking for. You'll learn a lot about accounting and management and the cross section of this between IT. That and 10 years of IT experience would go a long way in a lot of places.
posted by geoff. at 5:04 PM on December 9, 2009

My alma mater has a rather interesting program in Telecommunications Systems Management which will allow you to both learn the technical and business aspects. It's almost totally Windows based, with some Unix/Linux, and no Mac portion, so that may not fit totally, but it does have a lot of server admin. They do have the degree totally online, and it is a full B.S. program.
posted by deezil at 5:52 PM on December 9, 2009

Update: State of California, southern.

I'm basically looking for an affordable IT/administration program. Accredited and transferable is a plus.

And while I'm certainly interested in the programs themselves and being able to add something more to my resume - I'm also interested in student loans and aid as a way to leverage myself out of my current economic situation, the current status of which is unemployed and lacking.

MIS and IS/IT management in general seems like a good broad-spectrum fit. I'm fairly agnostic about hardware/software, I just know Windows tends to pay the bills by virtue of sucking, and I really want to be. more confident in supporting/deploying Server 2008, along with related technologies like Active Directory.
posted by loquacious at 6:06 PM on December 9, 2009

loq, I don't know if you knew this, but Community/City colleges in California are a mandated $26 per credit. Pasadena City College (where I've been meaning to go register for the past two years or so) hands out AA degrees for 60 credits. That's $1,560 for a degree, over the course of however long you want to be in school. Cheap school is cheap. They also offer super easy transfer programs so you can get your feet set underneath you before going to a 4-year college.

I've been in this 'I should finally get a degree of some sorts' boat for a few years, but the bureaucracy is really intimidating... having someone to go through it with would surely help move the process along, no? You know where I'm at.
posted by carsonb at 6:20 PM on December 9, 2009

loquacious: "I'm also interested in student loans and aid as a way to leverage myself out of my current economic situation, the current status of which is unemployed and lacking."

I have to ask, between the dot com collapse and the current economic decline, what makes you double down on the generic computer job path? You could get a degree in anything. Hell, having a degree in something besides IT would probably help you differentiate yourself against the unwashed masses of computer nerds.
posted by pwnguin at 9:05 PM on December 9, 2009

Hell, having a degree in something besides IT would probably help you differentiate yourself against the unwashed masses of computer nerds.

I have an AA in commercial design already, which does help a little in getting hired in some IT related situations.

I'm don't really care about the certificate or degree, nor am I currently looking for a general ed undergrad diploma. I just want to brush up on my tech skills and get my hands on some tools and stuff to brush up on my (admittedly MS/Windows-centric) tech skills while mooching some student aid and loans.

Borrowing to pay myself to go to school isn't an entirely terrible idea for me at the moment.

I do want to go back to a real school for my BA but I'm not stable enough for that at the moment.
posted by loquacious at 4:57 PM on December 11, 2009

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