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Thinking about going back to school...


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#1 Nikita

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 01:27 PM

Hi all. I don't visit this site much and so far it's only been for computer problems, but my computer problems have made me start thinking over the past year or so, that I might be interested in a career that involves computers. I'm thinking about going back to school to learn some of this stuff. But I was wonderng, how did you guys get so smart about computers? Is it worth it to go back to school or could I teach myself some of this stuff? The problem with school is like most people, I work a 40-50 hour week so scheduling classes is going to be difficult. Have any of you tried taking online classes? Are they just as good as sitting in an actual class with a teacher?

I live in Illinois so I'm checking out the College of Lake County which is a very good community college. They do offer online classes but I'm kind of overwhelmed on where to start. I have interests in computer graphics and animation because I'm also an artist, but I'm also interested in just learning everything I possibly can about everything else that goes with computers. I'd like to learn about the hardware and how exactly every part in a computer works. I'd also like to learn as many programs as I can so that I'm not stuck as a data entry clerk the rest of my life. I'm so behind on all the other programs that companies now require their employees to know how to use. (for example, I know how to use EXCEL a little bit but I don't know how to use everything with it)

Part of the problem is we need a newer computer at home. I am working on that but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask you guys, how you learned everything you learned about computers. I know some companies want you to have proof that you went to school to learn all your computer knowledge, but since I'm on a tight budget and because of my work schedule, I'm wondering if online classes or even books I can buy at the bookstore would be a good start to teach me the things I want to know.

What do you guys think? Any suggestions? Share your experiences? I wish I had taken computer classes in highschool instead of art classes because I already knew how to do art. I should have been taking MSDOS classes instead of painting all those years ago. (I graduated highschool in 92') I remember I did take a typing class in highschool back when they had the Apple 2 out. I think that's what it was called. I remember the old computers we had back in highschool. It's amazing to see how far they've come and how much technology has progressed.

Anyway, sorry this is a bit long. Guess I'm feeling chatty today. *giggle*

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#2 Happy_Reaper

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 08:43 PM

I don't know very much about online classes, but I do have a lot of books on computers, and let me say that, for the most part, they work, if of course you're willing to put the effort into it.

Now that is a big if. Computer science is an applied science. You can't just read about it and get good. You need to experiment with it too. After 2 years in college, I've realised there's a great difference between being book smart and comp smart, that difference being an extra 5 sleepless hours per week and maybe a good 2 extra kettles of coffee.

Seriously, though, regardless of what kind of work you're trying to look into, I don't think it'll be the ressources that you will find lacking (since there's plenty on the internet, too), it will probably be the effort and desire to persevere. Computer science is often a very harsh mistress (Just ask anyone who's ever programmed in assembler...).

Hope that helps,

Cheers
Teacher: "You connect with Internet Explorer, but what is your browser? You know, Yahoo, Webcrawler...?" <-- It's great to see the educational system moving in the right direction...

#3 Leurgy

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 06:58 AM

After doing fairly physical work for most of my life, health issues made me decide to change career paths. Knowing little about computers I went to college (for the first time and in my late forties) and immersed myself for two years. I learned all the popular software for about 6 months to get to the advanced level and then went on with a course called "Microcomputer Maintanence and Support" that included Networking and Hardware. Looking back, I see that as a good foundation for what I do now but certainly not complete. Computers are always evolving and you have to stay current so the learning never really ends.

If you want to gain employment in computer work a Certificate or Diploma of some kind is essential. Lots of people can say they know all about computers but a potential employer won't buy that unless you can show them a piece of paper that says I do know this. You want to pick a school, whether online or not, that has a good reputation in the field and that will be recognized by potential employers. Call the Human Resources department of a large corporation or two and ask them about the schools they like for their graduates. They know where the well trained people come from.

By all means get a new computer and keep the old one for a test machine that you can play around with. Get a wired/wireless router combo too so you can become familiar with networking and wireless. Hopefully your new computer and your old one will have two different operating systems so you can see how they interact. Its important to get that hands on experience rather than just book learning.

Hope that helps.

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