One thing I have no issue admitting to myself is the time and years I’ve pissed away. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but this isn’t necessarily what this is about. After years of playing World of Warcraft. DnD. World of Darkness. Laying in bed watching TV for far too many consecutive measurements of time. I feel myself jaded and torn, empty and unworthy of the life I could have made for me and my family.
Recently I re-enrolled and started working towards my bachelor’s degree again. I was excited about the prospect as I really wanted to start advancing my career and making up for lost time. Where it becomes frustrating and almost unbearable is the conflict my current level. The first courses I have in this curriculum are based on the A+ certification which I’ve had for almost 20 years (before it acquired an expiration date), and the new IT Fundamentals, which is essentially a pre-pubescent A+.
If you are familiar with the IT industry, where you can find a lot of job postings that recommend a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent experience, you may also know that the industry offers a metric fuck ton of certifications. Now as I said, I’ve had mine for 20 years and for the most part have always been in a relevant field which to me makes the IT fundamentals a waste of the time I already consider so precious.
It’s not like there isn’t a few courses in networking or programming that I could benefit from. When I consider other education alternatives though, I feel like college (this isn’t even considering the debt involved), may be far superior in helping me achieve the information and suitable knowledge, for cheaper as well as more specific.
There are a few I have used over the last couple years. First is EDx.org. What I like about this open courseware site is that most of the courses are from legitimate academic institutions. I am enrolled, for free mind you (even if my work has been abandoned for live duties) in a introduction to programming from Harvard. Obviously Harvard is not the only one and there are courses from Chinese culture to economics, from MIT to Caltech. Harvards CS50 is probably, if not, now one of the most popular courses in the world.
There are however others. Udemy offers courses, many have a price but there are often sales which take $100 course down to $10. The courses are written and instructed by professionals in the field. While they are not always University backed lessons, they are people who have worked in the field and have chosen to share their knowledge. As a user, it is your rating of a course, leading to an average stars that keeps an instructor. They have to keep above 4 stars or lose that course availability. This helps ensure that those allowed to use the platform are offering their best instruction and content.
Then there is my personal favorite. Linux Academy. As I have been more into the Linux side of things over the last few years, I find it offers me the best courses that are specific to the industry. The prior two offer content from a wide range of topics. Linux Academy doesn’t just offer the instructor led course and there is far more content then just Linux. It includes a lot of related technologies that Linux Administrators my find themselves using. From OpenStack, to DevOps to AWS it offers a truly well-rounded education for the field. Often times you will see next to the Bachelors Degree requirement in a job description, listed next to individual technological skills that Linux Academy provides focused lessons on those particular topics. It’s a subscription based servers and for $50 a month you get access to every course they have, 6 available cloud servers to create and destroy virtual machines built for you to learn so you don’t have to use your own hardware, and access to their cloud assessments site which is also becoming more integrated.
While there are others, such as ITPro.tv or CBTNuggets or Lynda.com, these are the ones I’ve used the most, (although ITPRO.tv, being offered through my employer, has been a nice addition). Now that I have gotten those explanations out of the way I want you to consider why I would see my excitement for college was centered around unemployment. With the available options, my knowledge and experience for given technologies could be attained quicker. One of my biggest issues in almost anything is keeping focus. Whether its online learning or it’s college. The other big issue is wanting to rush through everything.
I have completed many of the courses on there, and while I have spent much time over the last few years with the information or commands involved, I haven’t spent the recommended time experimenting with different options.
So there’s is where I’m at. At this stage in life, is the Bachelor’s degree worth it over independent study. Or is it just delaying the time for me to get to the place I feel I want to be. To some it may seem like a ridiculous question, but for me I can see the pros and cons of each, but not both simultaneously.