Wow, what an interesting fork lies in my road!

As I’m sure you are all aware, my Spring semester finals ended on the 28th. I now have a one month break before summer semester. However, that break is really not a break at all. You see, one of my classes this semester was Information Security. Our book (specifically this one) was a study guide to the CompTIA Security+ certification exam, a very professional and highly sought-after certification in the technology world. As it seems the school always does with this class, they offer students the chance to purchase a voucher to take the exam. After an OK from my programmer and techy uncle who works in some programming or IT field (I have no clue which), consultation with my advisor and parents, and $185 dollars later, I have in my possession a voucher to take the Security+ certification exam (it normally costs more, but since I bought it through the school they adsorbed some of the cost). I have already scheduled a test date for May 12 at 10 AM, effectively giving me (as of this writing) one week to study (there goes my break).

Ah, if only things were as simple as they appeared. First, both my uncle and advisor have said it is a hard test, not because of the question count, test type, or rather high passing score (750 out of 900), but because you forget the content. This is not stuff you is the every day (unlike the CompTIA A+ certification exam), and it is best I take it now, just as class has ended, because right now I have the best chance of remembering the content and passing. The second thing is there are two revisions of the Security+ exam uses right now, SY0-013 and SY0-018, with the latter set to be retried at the end of the year. The study guide was published in 2012 and says it maps to the test, but fails to mention which revision. Further more, I find no date saying when the 018 revision was published, my instructor does not know either, and the nearest testing center only administers the 018 revision. I have a suspicion that book maps to 018, but I am really unsure. I finally figured it out. The book maps to the 018 revision. I know this because 015 is no longer offered, and 018 is set to be shelved at the end of the year. An actual copy of my study plan follows.

Read Chapter 14

Read over Chapter 1 test (and any important chapter bits)
Read over Chapter 2 test (and any important chapter bits)
Self quiz over first 100 study questions

4/31/14 (Yes, I know there is no April 31st : P)
Read over Chapter 3 test (and any important chapter bits)
Read over Chapter 4 test (and any important chapter bits)
Self quiz over next 100 study questions

Read over Chapter 5 test (and any important chapter bits)
Read over Chapter 6 test (and any important chapter bits)
Self quiz over next 100 study questions

Read over Chapter 7 test (and any important chapter bits)
Take Chapter 1 labs (now that the semester is over)
Take Chapter 14 labs
Self quiz over next 100 study questions
Read over Chapter 8 test (and any important chapter bits)
Read over Chapter 9 test (and any important chapter bits)
Take Chapter 2 labs
Take Chapter 3 labs
Self quiz over next 100 study questions
Read over Chapter 10 test (and any important chapter bits)
Read over Chapter 11 test (and any important chapter bits)
Take Chapter 4 labs
Take Chapter 5 labs
Self quiz over next 100 study questions

Read over Chapter 12 test (and any important chapter bits)
Take Chapter 6 labs
Take Chapter 7 labs
Self quiz over next 100 study questions

Read over Chapter 13 test (and any important chapter bits)
Read over final test practice
Self quiz over next 100 study questions

Read over final test
Self quiz over last 94 study questions

5/12/14 (Day of Plan)
Wake up at 7 AM
Get identification documents
Leave house at 9 AM to arrive before 9:40 PM
Take exam
Pass exam

Nothing really interesting is happening in Summer semester, so I’ll skip it and move on to the juicy stuff.

Fall 2014 semester marks my one year enrollment in college. Yet I never expected to be in such a predicament as this. Every semester up to this one, I will have been enrolled as a full-time student, taking 12 credit hours every semester. This is required of me because I did not go through the public school system in high school (rather, I was homeschooled 😀 ), and because of that and how I am pursing an associates degree so I can’t be in a part of some big grant program until I have completed 30 credit hours or drop down to a diploma and junk like that. Basically, unless I am a full-time student, I am not sure eligible for any kind of financial aid.

The website design and development degree is a total of 66 credit hours, and unbeknownst to me, the school has a plan that students in the program must follow exactly in order to have full-time status (sometimes having them take more than 12 credit hours in a semester) all the way through the usually 5 semesters it takes to complete. Apparently, straying from this plan (that is, taking classes that changes the predestined credit hours that must be taken in each semester) or an instructor not offering a particular course breaks it  entirely, causing the student to not have full-time status all the way through at any point in the 5 semesters (yes, the plan is that structured and fragile). This is exactly what has happened to me and at least three other students in the same problem. Obviously I do not know their details, but in my case the system, so to say, was broken threefold. First, I did not take more than 12 credit hours this (Spring) semester. Second, I swapped some classes out this semester that I should have taken later on. Third, one of classes I needed to take this semester was not offered (which lead to the previous point). All this has created a situation where I only had 6 credit hours (or my last two core classes, Public Speaking and American Literature) left to take after Spring 2015 semester, which is bad for the aforementioned reason. Obviously this must be remedied, but the question is how?

Two solutions have been devised, each with its own drawbacks. The first is two take over full-time for Fall and Spring semesters. In fact, part of this is already in play. I will be taking 16 credit hours (5 classes) this Fall, as mom has put me in Public Speaking class. I would then take American Literature (D:) in Spring (site note: I’ll be turning 20 by this time), while I am taking my capstone. My advisor has admitted this is the hard route, and Spring will be especially difficult. The second option is for Spring, I change my major from an Website design degree to an IT Support degree. I can then use the classes I have already taken to fulfill all the electives, and I will take classes relating to both degrees. Because there are not fully overlapping classes between the two degrees (for obvious reasons), this would extend my enrollment to Summer 2015 semester (right where I am right now). Then, having completed all requirements for both the Website design and IT Support degrees, I can apply to graduate from Website design. This means I would graduate from technical college with dual associates degrees, which combined with my Security+ certification (you can tell I am a super-positive guy when I say I will have that test 😀 ) would make a somewhat distinguished graduate.

Which route I take depends on the outcome of the upcoming Fall semester. If I can handle the 16 credit hours and it looks like I could run repeat it for a second 15 week semester, then I’ll take option 1. If I can’t seem to handle it or would rather stay in school and have a less demanding class schedule, then I’ll take option 2.

Yup, I’ve got an interesting upcoming couple of semesters awaiting me…