(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Robert Smith enjoys the way he is able to study Computer Networking and Systems Administration at Texas State Technical College.
Smith is taking advantage of TSTC’s performance-based education model to get ahead in his studies. He is also taking the time to visit the Brownwood campus to have instructor Renee Blackshear grade his progress in each assessment.
“I am getting used to the performance-based education way of learning,” Smith said. “This allows me to go at my own pace and do my own thing when it comes to learning. I know if I fall behind, I will be able to make the effort to catch up.”
TSTC’s performance-based education model allows students to work with an enrollment coach to develop a schedule in two-hour time blocks. Lectures, videos and other learning content is on Canvas, a learning management system. Instructors also do mini-lectures during the day, with tests being demonstration-based, online or written.
Smith schedules lab time with Blackshear to make sure he masters each level before advancing to the next section.
“The way I am able to work and jump ahead to the next module after mastering the previous one is a great opportunity,” he said.
Smith said having time to visit with Blackshear about his work is also a positive aspect of the program.
“I am able to sit in the lab and talk to her about each module,” he said. “I know that if I have a problem, she will be right there to help me.”
Blackshear said Smith is a student who will excel in the field after he earns his Associate of Applied Science degree.
“Robert is a conscientious student who is very focused on his education,” she said. “When he completes the program, I can see him having a successful career.”
Smith is working on the second module of the first-semester courses and seeing his progress increase.
“I will soon be able to start operating systems, with networking systems coming after that,” he said. “It is great to be able to know what I will be doing next.”
Smith said it was natural for him to have a career in computers.
“I have always had a fascination with computers and how they work,” he said. “I have also been a hands-on learner my entire life. I knew that I wanted to work in an indoor environment, and this will allow me to put both of those together.”
Smith has seen his ability to work on computers improve as a result of the lessons that he has mastered.
“I have already built a gaming personal computer for myself,” he said. “I have also fixed my parents’ computer. It is great to be able to do these things.”
When he completes his degree, Smith said his focus will be to find a job either as a router engineer or an information technology support specialist. He is looking forward to TSTC helping him find the right career path.
“I am excited to attend the job fairs to see what is available,” he said. “I am going to take advantage of every opportunity I can to get my foot in the door to begin my career.”
The average annual salary for computer network support specialists in Texas is $62,280, according to onetonline.org. The website showed that the need for these specialists was forecast to grow 17% between 2018 and 2028.
TSTC offers hybrid training for its Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. Students can choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration, certificates of completion in IT Support Tier 1 and IT Support Tier II, an advanced technology certificate in Cloud Computing, and an occupational skills achievement award in Entry IT Support.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.