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Control Costs When Pursuing IT Training at a University

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Ed Tittel provides some information and insight for a Marine veteran interested in pursuing college training in information technology. He recommends that this young vet do everything he can to contain and control costs. This will help the IT pro in-training get through school with minimal debt and overhead.

ontrol Costs When Pursuing IT Training at a Universityontrol Costs When Pursuing IT Training at a UniversityGood morning Mr. Tittel,

My name is Thomas. I'm a 29 year old veteran (Marine Corps) who's looking to get started in IT. I have no formal training whatsoever, although I have some degree of knowledge; all of it has been self-taught. I feel very passionate about raising others’ self-awareness when it comes to practicing safe browsing and maintenance habits. In fact I mostly enjoy working on computers as a hobby.  I take pride in taking them apart and finding out what makes them tick; guess that's just in my nature. I'm interested in CISSP certification, but I'd like to do all I can.

I live in Modesto, California, however I recently was admitted to Fordham University's Professional and Continuing Studies program. I will be majoring in Computer Information Systems Management Applications. I feel that perhaps Fordham may indeed offer a good program, but Fordham is in New York. Should I stay close to home in nearby San Jose and attend a city college, or will Fordham be sufficient?

I will be attending either campus for a maximum of 2 years and I plan to relocate to San Jose if in fact I am not there and attending Fordham. I'd love to get your insight on my situation and perhaps save me the trouble of apartment hunting in NYC.


Thomas G.

Dear Thomas:

Thanks for writing. You raise some interesting questions in your e-mail, and I’m happy to take a stab at answering them.

To begin with, I do recognize that Fordham University is rated as a top-100 “Best College” (number 58 in the US News and World Report’s 2013 Edition of Best Colleges). But the cost of living is so high in New York City, and money usually so tight for people going to school, that I concur with your instincts to stay put in northern California.

In fact, the Education Portal lists Berkeley City College as one of its Top 10 Information Technology Schools, and there are plenty of northern California schools also listed in its Top Information Technology Schools in California Web page as well. One of them, in fact, is Cal State Sacramento, which will be a heck of a lot closer – and cheaper – to you in Modesto than Fordham can be. Unless you’re getting a very generous scholarship offer from Fordham, I’d suggest you work your way outward from schools close to you to schools progressively farther away until you find the right combination of cost, capability, and distance that works for you.

On the other hand, if you plan to move to San Jose anyway, you will definitely want to check out the many good schools in that area: the education portal listing for top information technology schools in California includes San Jose State, Cal State East Bay (in Hayward, something of a drive from San Jose, but doable), and Cal State Stanislaus (60 miles from San Jose in Turlock, but the top-ranked program in the State of California). It may make sense to investigate these after you check out what’s available within driving range of your current residence in Modesto.

As for pursuing the CISSP, it does require five years of on-the-job information security experience (fouryears with a bachelor’s degree under your belt), so this is something you can work your way into over time. You can –and probably should study for the CISSP exam – which you can take and pass without the experience requirement to earn an “Associate of CISSP” certification that converts automatically to a full-blown CISSP as soon as you get enough experience under your belt (and keep up your credential with continuing education credits in the meantime). If you have any security clearances from your work in the Marines, you’ll be pleased to read that veterans with security clearances, CISSP, and InfoSec knowledge and experience, are in very high demand in the job market.

I hope you find this information helpful and informative. If you have further follow up questions, be sure to share them with me. I wish you the best of luck in your higher education and career planning activities. If I can help further in any way, please do let me know.

Ed TittelEd Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

E-mail Ed at with your request for IT certification or career info, or your ideas for future blogs. If your e-mail leads him to a blog topic, he’ll have the Tom’s staff send you your very own Tom’s IT Pro t-shirt! Be the envy of your friends and colleagues, and help him help you with your IT career! If you do have a request for Ed, please read his How to Help Me Help You blog posting, and answer as many of the questions this post contains as are applicable to your situation and inquiry. Thanks in advance for helping make his job easier that way!

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