A technical training school that provides accelerated instruction leading to MCSE certification is typically referred to as an MCSE boot camp. From my experience, having taught boot camps for five years, the name is fitting. It is an experience that can make or break you. It is at times painful, and at times one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. And when I say rewarding, the last thing that comes to mind is the four-letter title at the end of your name when you pass all of the MCSE certification exams. The reward from an MCSE boot camp is in what you learn, how you learn it, and how the overall experience affects your life.

Involvement in an MCSE boot camp is an immersion experience. Students seeking MCSE certification are dunked — head first — into the technology, and learn to swim in the binary waters with an urgency born out of a will to survive. They develop buddies quickly, and learn to trust the instructor who has charted the waters before. And the students develop greater self-respect, as they tackle a mountain of knowledge and put it to task.

This type of learning is the right way to achieve MCSE certification for folks who have experience in the IT industry and those with sufficient preparation. But, it is not for everyone. Boot camps that accept newbies should be avoided at all costs. These camps are most likely cheat camps masquerading as authentic training solutions.

A real MCSE boot camp only accepts qualified students. At least one year of experience in the networking field, managing users and dataflow, is an acceptable standard. Sales people at a real MCSE boot camp are required to turn down job-changers and folks that are not adequately prepared. Those same unprepared students, however, are accepted readily at the cheat camps; since they are merely learning to memorize answers to questions on the MCSE certification exams, actually learning the material in an enduring manner is not required.

A true MCSE boot camp requires highly customized training materials. Be wary of schools that solely use a vendor’s official curriculum or some bookstore purchased self-paced training materials for MCSE certification. These both provide excellent instructional support in the right environment, but they are incompatible with an accelerated boot camp experience. Typically schools that rely on these for their class materials are doing so because they never bothered to improve their MCSE certification materials, and probably use web-found “MCSE braindumps” for the classes, focusing on helping you read the brain dumps rather than developing real skills. Real boot camps use highly customized materials that teach key concepts and skills with exam objectives in mind. The best MCSE boot camp makes its own materials, improving them based on appropriate feedback.

What cheat camps do, unfortunately, is rely on MCSE braindumps as their main materials. Their instructors, in direct violation of their non-disclosure agreement, are given the task of interpreting MCSE braindumps for their students. Some of these camps purchase braindumps from companies that steal questions from the actual MCSE certification exams, providing their best guesses on the answers. In such a situation, students learn how to beat — and at the same time undermine — the system that feeds them. Such camps deprive their students from acquiring a real learning experience, and denigrate the value of the MCSE certification itself. And, while students may achieve MCSE certification during a cheat camp experience, they lose their self-respect and the opportunity to prove to themselves that they have what it takes to get certified in a legitimate manner.

Lastly, coming to a real MCSE boot camp can require real preparation. For candidates that are already immersed in the technology, and those that are exceptional students and test-takers, it is quite possible to come to an MCSE boot camp and proudly walk out with MSCE certification with little or no preparation. But for most that are planning on attending accelerated training, some pre-training is essential. A real MCSE boot camp provides materials, practice tests, and guidelines for study to be completed before coming to class. They provide their students with contact to instructors before they attend class, to ensure that they are on target with their preparation.

Do yourself a favor: make sure that the camp you choose for your MCSE certification provides a real learning experience. Use the following tips when comparing boot camps to ensure that you are not going to pay for something that you might later regret.

Tips for Determining if an MCSE Boot Camp is Legitimate:

  1. Look for real, verifiable references from past students, and ask those references about how the class was taught.
  2. Inquire about details on what type of curriculum and materials are used in class.
  3. Ask if the instructors are MCSEs, and what the average years of experience are.
  4. Find out what type of pre-training is provided. Can students get in touch with an instructor for advice prior to coming to class?
  5. Ask if the MCSE boot camp accepts people with minimal experience and how much experience is required to attend.
  6. Find out what the company’s philosophy is concerning MCSE braindumps. Do they use a third-party product that claims to have actual MCSE certification exam questions?
  7. Ask if the company develops its own accelerated materials or if it relies on some package intended for self-study or prolonged training.

About the Author
Barry Kaufman, MCSE, CISSP, CEH, MS in Education, is the founder and director of training services of IntenseSchool, which was recently acquired by the security services firm, Vigilar. Barry has worked as a network consultant, trainer, and manager since NT 3.51 and Netware 2.0. He honestly believes that things have gotten better, even if it hasn’t cut down on his workload in the least. He can be reached at bkaufman~at~vigilar.com. For more information about MCSE certification, please visit vigilar.com.

[tags]MCSE, certification, boot camp[/tags]