Firstly the why – it’s time to focus on some negatives.
Cost – Yes there are a LOT of courses you can do, but these are incredibly expensive, the ones I was able to track down, on the low-end areas around £1000, included a 5 day training course, with test at the end… (this is too much for my budget) the other option would be university, firstly would need to pass a networking/programming college course to be able to get in, then it is common practice to get a student loan, leaving you ultimately with a whole load of debt (£30,000 est.)
Knowledge – If you have chosen to go the university route, the level of knowledge is pretty high, however the range of skills tought are as broad as they can make them in order to give the largest overview and make the most amount of people qualified for a wide set of career paths, this means your knowledge isn’t usually as in-depth in whatever area you would like, but more setting you up for further courses or avenues.
If you have chosen to go the 5 day course option… I mean really… how much do you think you will be able to learn in an advanced field of computers in 5 days… they may be good for a quick recap before the test, but you are basically paying to do the test and getting the piece of paper, you already should have the knowledge prior.
Currency – The big downside to both of these is that updating the coursework and tests accordingly takes time and effort and is a slow process, they generally have to go through loads of bureaucracy to be accepted. Computers (especially security) is ever-changing and rapidly evolving – if you have opted for self-study and are applying it well then you should stay on top and current.
Structure – With any type of course, no matter what you are following someone elses structure, you are rushed along to learn as much as possible in the quickest possible time frame, learning what they want to teach you, in the order they want you to learn it, deviation isn’t really an option here. I realise this is important to a lot of people for motivational purposes, but I don’t think it is for the majority. Personally if something captures my attention or curiosity I like to be able to deviate and focus on that until I’m satisfied, it’s more about enjoying it for me.
Self study – The cost of this: as little or as much as you want. I presume you are reading this because it’s a hobby or interest that you have, my advice is do what you can for free (and there is PLENTY) and then you can buy whatever you think is necessary, already having an informed decision on what YOU need.
The Knowledge: as much as you put in you will get back, since time generally isn’t an issue if you are slack but do it for years you will eventually know all you want, if you have a good regime and stick to it you will obviously gain knowledge/skills a lot quicker. Since you will be doing it real-time, the knowledge shouldn’t be outdated, if you keep it up you stay on the cutting edge.
Well hopefully I have convinced you towards self-study. If not I wish you all the best and hope you get what you want out of your education.
Part 2 will be about HOW to self-study, tools, techniques, ideas to improve upon and loads more