Self Study vs Classroom Study

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by SimonD, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    There is always a big debate about which is best and unfortunately there isn't a single right or wrong answer to this. Why you ask? Well it's because it's what ever suits the individual is what's right for that person.

    Self Study

    Self study for certification is a great way of reducing training costs because let's be fair, training providers are out there to make money and can and do charge a premium for providing training. Self study essentially allows the student to study at their own pace and using a variety of media to allow them to get the required knowledge to pass the certifications and for the most part is all that's required to pass exams, an exception that comes to mind however where self study alone won't allow you to pass an exam is the VMware VCP certification where VMware require you to attend training with a certified training provider.

    The costs involved with self study can be further reduced by using second hand training material (this site occasionally has members selling off their old manuals cheaply) and using web based content to further their knowledge.

    Self study relies on your will power to actually do the studying, if you don't have the willpower to spend a couple of hours a day studying then the goal posts for passing the exam constantly shift and you may never actually sit and pass the exam.

    Peers, I find that self study tends to be a very lonely island (it's not every wife that's willing to ask you questions from the manual or explain to you that no you're wrong and that's not the way you're supposed to set up network share security) and sometimes you don't realise that actually that concept that was explained in the book 30 ways backwards can actually be explained in 20 seconds and you understand it better this time because it makes more sense or that actually the real world way of doing things is different.

    Classroom Training

    Classroom training tends to be carried out by certified trainers with some real world experience (one important thing to understand about training and trainers is that you don't have to have real world experience to be a good trainer, as long as you can get the subject matter over to the students and answer questions posed (either straight away or later on after finding out the answer) is what makes a good trainer) and is usually filled with like minded students who have a good understanding of the subject to hand. A small classroom offers different approaches to the same subject (1 persons way of implementing something could be different to anothers and each person can learn from the other).
    The classroom tends to follow a structured path where you're learning the required knowledge to move onto the next subject in a reasonable time frame, there is no time to forget the subject matter because of the structure of the trainingm (obviously attending training with gaps of several months between modules can have an impact on retained knowledge).
    The students in the classroom also tend to have various areas where they get their knowledge from (websites, blogs etc) and can be shared around amongst the class.

    Cost, the obvious big one here, spending £50 on books vs £2000 on classroom training is a very big difference here. Location can also play a big part for one reason or another it may mean you have to spend time away from home and that's sometimes just not possible.

    Classroom hardware, training providers are pretty much all about making money and it's counter intuitive to them to spend money to make the students experiences in the classroom that much better by improving the available hardware, rather than having a proper SAN with enterprise hardware in there a training provider will usually make do with a workstation with 16gb of ram and a single 1tb drive, whilst it works it's not ideal because you're now spending time waiting for things to install and it takes 50% more time installing here than it did at home on your home lab and that's because the TP doesn't bother to defrag disks etc.

    Another con here can actually be the students, all you need is a student with a lack of understanding in the class and that can have an impact on the rest of the class because the instructor has a lot of his time taken up by that student.

    So which is right for you?

    As I mentioned above there is no right or wrong answer and ultimately everyone has to make that decision for themselves, for me however the right answer is classroom based training, yes it's more expensive but I am useless at self study, I have a wife and son and commute for 6 hours a day but the last thing I want to do on the train is start reading a dull book on servers because I am more of a hands on person, I need to have my hands on the technology to be able to get a better understanding of what it is that I am doing. I also prefer the company of like minded people because I tend to be a very social person and do better in a crowd than on my own.

    Ultimately the decision on whether to choose a training provider or go down the route of self study is down to the individual and as long as that person is happy with that choice then that's all that matters.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    wagnerk, craigie, Kopite_21 and 6 others like this.
  2. Xorallius

    Xorallius Bit Poster

    Excellent article/discussion point... very well written too.

    Every person learns differently, even though the common preference seems to be self study on certforums.

    But it's good to be able to make an unbiased decision with the help of threads like these, thanks.
    Certifications: BSc: ICT | A+ | MCP (271, 272) | MCDST |
    WIP: MCTS (70-680)
  3. Sonicimage

    Sonicimage Bit Poster

    Thanks, Simon, really very good comments of yours! So, I still would like to know (as I've read different opinions on that): is studying with a training provider a good idea, especially when they offer Job Guarantee Scheme and Pay-as-You-Earn option? I'm so confused with this, as some people say it's a waste of money, but how can you get a job on your own after you pass the exam?
    Please, share your opinion in this matter. I have an interview arranged with Just IT company on Thursday, and really need to take a decision before that.
    Certifications: Bachelor of Art; City & Guilds Diploma in ICT Systems Level 2 & 3; MCTS: Active Directory; MCTS: Network Infrastructure; MCTS: Windows 7, Configuring; MCSA: Server 2008; CCENT; CCNA; MCSE: Server 2012
    WIP: MCSE: Server Infrastructure
  4. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    General consensus is that the Pay to Work schemes aren't the ideal thing to do, we have had Simon from Just IT come on here a number of times and I have even spoken to him on the phone before to try and get his version of things.

    Personally speaking I don't go for the whole Pay to Work thing myself, I either pay for my training or I am paid to work and usually anyone offering a scheme where you pay them for a job just screams "Bad Idea".

    Mileage may vary as far as Just IT and other providers are concerned but, and I must stress this, BUT you have to make your own mind up about this and stick to it. There are enough opinions on this site as to whether it's a good thing or not (big hint here, most people advise against it). Final bit of advice is that once you have made up your mind don't complain to people here that it was the wrong decision.

    If I were in your shoes then I wouldn't be going down that route but that's because I managed to get into IT fairly easily (it was back in 1997 when it was a lot easier). The other thing I should mention is that certification isn't the means of getting into IT, it should be used as a means of proving your experience when already in IT, if you remember that then hopefully you will realise that actually having no commercial experience but certifications can actually do you more harm than good.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
  5. dmarsh
    Honorary Member

    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

    Nobody can really guarantee you a job unless they are the one offering it and prepared to pay your wages regardless of real market demand and your performance.

    Pay as you earn sounds great, only in most cases you have a loan that must be repaid, regardless of personal circumstances or the type of job they get you.

    A job is where you deliver a service over time in exchange for payment.

    If you are any good at IT and there is any demand for IT work then someone will offer you a job. Its basic supply and demand.

    If there is no demand or you are no good then 'paying for a job' is not the answer.

    Pay for training if you must (arguably better if you don't need to in many cases), get good at an aspect of IT where you think there is demand and then apply for jobs.

    How does anyone get any job ? They go looking for one, its called job hunting, networking, speculative application, etc.

    Universities normally have a careers service where they advise on job hunting, if you are on your final year you should be asking them how to write a CV, what job fairs you can go to, if there are any placement schemes or internships, etc.

    I got into IT nearly 18 years ago, and sure it was probably easier then, it wasn't a global recession for a start. However I still needed to get a Computer Science degree, make 200+ applications, commute a long distance and take a low salary just to get my foot in the door.

    Nobody owes you a living, let alone one in an industry you are interested in, never forget that.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  6. ITSpartan

    ITSpartan New Member

    Please listen to this guy, Also patience is key, You can get into IT without any experience! YOu just need to be passionate and show interest. As for study self study is difficult and time consuming. But i would recommend it and it would help if you had a buddy who is a bit more technical and has similar interest and you can study together, even build virtual environments and split the costs.

    My colleague passed ITIL on his own in 13 days self study. But everyone is different. My other colleague got into IT via an apprenticeship scheme, He used to be a personal trainer fully qualified! He has 8 months of 1st line and I think he would pass MCITP with some study.

    No one can ever guarantee a job unless they are the ones offering it directly. Beware of fast talks and sales men. We have people in my company that used to be bankers, sales men that decided they didnt want to do that line of work. I wonder why people would leave lucrative Jobs for lower pay?

    My job now is not exactly what I want, Its a foot in the door, I got less qualified people ahead of me wanting what I want, but im pushing everyday to get what i want. I want to experience IT but I dont plan to be in IT support forever, I would like to go on to management and possibly combine telecoms! So courses like Prince 2 and ITIL appeal to me even Cisco too...a course that genuinely costs about £2000 pounds but i dont need a training provider for that.

    Unviersities offer an extensive and exhaustive Career Service, some even have direct links to companies, I wish I used mine in the 4 years I was there!
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  7. ad

    ad Bit Poster

    Very useful analysis, thanks! I have no commercial experience in programming but my degree was in that subject. I worked in IT support a couple of years, but due to medical problems and job loss, I'm now looking to get into a programming and/or testing job role as my surgeon says to get a desk based job only with days where I can sometimes work from home if commuting in that day was an issue.

    Anyway, I thought the best route was to purchase an online home learning training package from one of the various training providers and take the relevant certification exam at the end of it. But this point you made really struck a cord with me "certification isn't the means of getting into IT, it should be used as a means of proving your experience when already in IT, if you remember that then hopefully you will realise that actually having no commercial experience but certifications can actually do you more harm than good"

    Instead what I have done is downloaded Visual Studio 2012 and Java NetBeans and some free test tools to hopefully start creating applications and testing them on my own as a form of "self study". Not in the pursuit of a specific certification but rather getting some of the required technical skills and maybe doing some voluntary/open source contribution work. Once having gained experience from that apply for paid contract work and from that experience full time employment. If I can't get any paid employment, then maybe getting certifications to try and increase the chances of getting paid employment may be the only other option.

    Do you guys think that pseudo-plan is ok?
  8. ivorylies

    ivorylies New Member

    I still prefer classroom study since it is more exciting. You can interact with anyone in person and I guess it is more easier for you to learn since you immediately hear or get others' opinions. Self study seems to be boring though I believe you will learn to be more independent and responsible.
  9. Tbone123

    Tbone123 New Member

    I like the self-paced study option the best. That seems to work with my schedule.
    WIP: Security+
  10. agib

    agib Bit Poster

    I do not mind. as long as it is engaging
  11. Juelz

    Juelz Gigabyte Poster

    Class-room for me, unfortunetly it isn't an option for me right now due to my schedule and finance. I like having a lecturer who you can ask questions to.
  12. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    That's exactly why I prefer classrooms over self study.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
  13. JK2447
    Highly Decorated Member Award 500 Likes Award

    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator Premium Member

    Top Poster
    of the Month

    Classroom feels like a luxury so I will take that when I can but that said, I've had times where I need a week out of the office like a hole in the head, so I've preferred to fly solo and self study. I do much prefer classroom but for me it can also be a case of how busy am I, what deadlines have I set for myself
    Certifications: VCP4, 5, 6, 6.5, 6.7, 7, VCAP DCV Design, VMConAWS Skill, Google Cloud Digital Leader, BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: Google Cloud Certs
  14. cisco lab rat

    cisco lab rat Megabyte Poster

    Depends on the classroom, i will keep out of this discussion since i have dogs in both fights, but i will say that having been a student in some oneelses classroom it can honestly say that sometimes self study is a better option even if it does take a little longer.
    Certifications: Yes I pretty much am!!
    WIP: Fizzicks Degree
  15. Poonam

    Poonam New Member

    It's completely depends upon the person. The study preference is differ from one person to another. Anyway i preferred for classroom study only.
  16. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    As this still gets read\comments I will add to this by saying that there are some excellent online training providers out there who deliver some great content which from a cost perspective can make great sense when it comes to the classroom or self study route.

    Both CBTNuggets and Pluralsight offer subscription services and I have to be honest and say that I spend time on my commutes listening to the videos via bluetooth in my car, it's a great way of getting the classroom experience of the subject matter being explained to you with the start\stop of self study training, throw in Twitter for the times you don't understand something and you can have the best of both worlds.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
  17. Scott85

    Scott85 New Member

    I thought I'd write a user guide

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