I am currently a 2nd Tier Support Engineer for a Telecommunications Optical systems. I have no degree and I began implementing a Secure WAN network with no prior experience. Over the last 2 years I have read many books, I am currently studying to become a CCNA (with CCNP as my goal). 80% of my knowledge has come from hard work and lots of hours. I am currently scheduled to attend Penn State this fall, studying their newly formed IST (Information Sciences & Technology). Do you know anything about this curriculum? Is worth my time?

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Penn State is a good school, with a highly-regarded faculty and curriculum. Thought the IST program may be new (and this is likelyto be a good thing, since it will mean a fully-up-to-date slate of courses, lab facilities, and so forth), it won't hurt you to get a degree from a "name" institution. That said, the value of your degree (like those of your certifications) depends on what you want to do with them. Assuming you're seeking long-term employment as an IT professional, and can afford the time, effort, and cost of a 4-year degree, thi s is an excellent move for you to make. Good luck, and learn as much as you can!

This was first published in May 2002

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