(ABILENE, Texas) – After moving to Abilene, Kacie Osier was ready to return to college.
Osier and her family moved to West Texas from her childhood home of Carson City, Nevada, while she was taking time off from college. She knew that returning to school was important and began researching different options.
“I looked online at TSTC and found this interesting,” she said of the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. “I was studying English and journalism at a community college in Nevada, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to broaden my knowledge.”
Computer Networking and Systems Administration is part of TSTC’s performance-based education model that 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.
Osier admitted that prior to starting the Associate of Applied Science degree program at TSTC, she did not know much about computer networking. But she has realized that the more she studies, the better she has become in each class module.
“Performance-based education forces me to understand what I need to do before I can move on,” Osier said. “It is not your typical style of learning where you go through the course. I have to make sure to take the time to learn each section.”
Osier said for her it was a bit “rocky” adjusting to performance-based education during her first semester.
“But once you get used to the format, it has been a pretty smooth transition,” she said.
Performance-based education has also taught Osier something about herself.
“For me, it is not a matter of getting up each morning and sitting in front of the computer,” she said. “It is OK to walk around. But when it is time to sit down, I know I have to get the work done. It has provided me with a lot of self-motivation.”
Each time that Osier completes one of her modules with Adrian Medrano, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration instructor, she has a feeling of accomplishment.
“There is definitely a big sigh of relief,” she said. “It feels good when you complete the module because you can tell yourself that you learned something.”
Medrano said Osier is showing signs of becoming a productive networker.
“For Kacie, she is learning a different language,” he said. “She was studying English and journalism, which is a totally different language than networking. She is learning that it is easy to learn without any prior knowledge.”
Osier said attending TSTC has made her feel welcome in West Texas.
“TSTC has made me feel at home,” she said. “It was scary moving to a different state. Attending TSTC has definitely led me to come out of my shell and meet new people. For me, I will always be thankful for that.”
While she does not yet have specific plans for after she completes her associate degree, Osier knows she will be prepared for a career.
“TSTC is more personal with students, and people want to help you,” she said. “That is why I tell myself it is OK to not know what I want after I complete my degree. I know I will be prepared for whatever comes next.”
The average annual salary for network and computer systems administrators in Texas is $85,380, according to onetonline.org. The website showed that the need for these specialists in the state was forecast to grow 20% between 2020 and 2030.
In TSTC’s 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, and an advanced technology certificate in Cloud Computing.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.