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Get Ahead of the Curve at Tesst
this article was previously published in RazorsEdge Magazine http://www.razorsedgemagazine.com/
It began as TESST Technology Institute in 1957, opening their first campus in Hyattsville, Maryland. In 1986, the campus in Alexandria, Virginia campus opened in an effort "to better serve the Washington metropolitan area". They entered into the Baltimore metropolitan area when they acquired what was then known as the Arundel Institute of Technology. They focalized in 1998 by relocating the Hyattsville campus and the former Arundel Institute to newer buildings in Beltsville, Maryland and Towson, Maryland respectively.
Their fourth campus was added the very next year when TESST acquired the RETS Technical Training Center, which had been offering Baltimore students formidable technical skills training for about four decades prior. Located in Southwest Baltimore within a mile of 695 and I-95, it is accessible from virtually everywhere in the Baltimore metropolitan area. It is this campus that I currently attend. The four campuses became known as TESST College of Technology shortly thereafter.
TESST offers students an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electronics, Computer and Telecommunications Technology, as well as Network Information Systems. These tracks are considered full-time programs and are offered during daytime hours.
They also offer certificate programs in Computerized Business Management, Electronics, Computer, and Telecommunications Technology, Electrician, Graphic Engineering Drafting with CADD, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Medical Assistance, Network Information Systems (NIS), Network Information Technology (NIT), Pharmacy Technician, and Refrigeration, Heating, and Air Conditioning.
These programs are generally offered in the evening and are geared more for persons who work full time and are looking to add to their resume. TESST is fully accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). TESST is fully invested in the success of their students. They offer a full array of both state and federal financial assistance to their students as well as job placement assistance for its graduates.
Life As A Student
When one of my closest friends came to me last May and asked me to enroll in school with him, I thought it was a joke. I thought about for a minute, thinking about where I was in my life and where I wanted to be. That next week I was sitting in Tom Parrol's office. Tom is one of the handfuls of TESST recruiters whose job it is to introduce prospective students to the world of TESST College and what it has to offer. After completing a short interview, I moved next to the Financial Aid office. It brought back memories of many days sitting in the lobby of various FA offices, dreading the paperwork I would have to fill out and sign. I have to admit the staff left me delightfully surprised, quickly completing all necessary forms. All I had to do was review and sign. Imagine that.
I had a lot of concerns as you can imagine. Truth be told, this was my third school since leaving University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 1997. My last stab at a post-secondary degree being a semester long stint at Capitol College. That was a little over 8 years ago. Needless to say I was unsure about a lot of things. How would I adjust after being out of school for so long? Did I really want another student loan debt? Those were just two of the many questions I asked myself up until that first evening of class.
I found myself surprisingly comfortable. One of the things that I like about TESST is that the class sizes are relatively small. On average, my classes have held no more than 25 students. I find that this allows students to still get the individual attention that they may need in a lecture environment.
The teachers are very knowledgeable. They all bring real world experience into the classroom. This experience allows them to bring a fresh perspective to their lectures as well as keeping us students current on pertinent subjects.
I was sitting in class recently and my instructor used an analogy that best explained the type of education that you receive from TESST. He compared it to that of a student in medical school. A medical student learns general knowledge of everything in entailed in medicine. When the student graduates, he or she still needs to find an internship if they want to specialize in a particular field of medicine. It is the same with TESST. When students finish the program they have general knowledge of all that is IT. The student then uses certification exams to decide what exactly he or she would like to do in the IT industry.
If you have ever attended a university, you probably know very well the hassle associated with purchasing textbooks for your classes. All textbooks and materials are covered in your tuition. It was nice knowing that I didn't have to worry about how I was going to buy them. Unfortunately, you can't return them either. I did like that part about it (laughs).
If I had to put my finger on one thing that I like the most about TESST is that although they make sure that you have everything that you need, it is still left to you to put forth the effort needed to succeed in class. The class modules are usually 6 weeks in length on average; there isn't a whole lot of time spent covering the material in class. It is left up to the student to read the material. The classes are structured more to compliment your individual study time, as opposed to classes in a University where you sit in a class for, at the most, an hour. A lot of times the instructor tries to cram 3 or 4 chapters of lecture material into that hour and at the end you're left just as clueless as when you sat down. You go home, read the chapter, and realize that the instructor is reciting right from the textbook. Many times I thought to myself, "what do I even need to sit in here for?" The bottom line is each student must invest the time and effort if you want to get something out of the program.
Being that TESST is a small college, the administration has an ease and familiarity with it. They are all very approachable. You can just walk into their offices if you need anything or have any questions. They are always available to help you in anyway they can. People like Doug Guare. He is the school's administrator for the evening program, a friendly gentleman in his late 40's. Sitting down with him, I can feel the dedication and experience that he brings to TESST. He is a knowledgeable individual who will go out of his way to help you if you need it. People like the newly installed President, who seems to have been ready for the job from day one (pardon the Clinton reference, I just think it is funny). He made it a point to make himself available to the students and the faculty.
From All Walks of Life
The students that are enrolled at Tesst compass a wide range of age groups and backgrounds. Some have families to support and are looking for a way to up their stock in the business world. Some, like me, are tired of the low-paying, menial work that seems only to be available to those without some type of post-high school education. When asked, Crystal Johnson, who is 26 and enrolled in the NIT program, says that she chose TESST because it allowed her the opportunity to gain the hands on training she was looking for in pursuit of her career advancement without having to take 4 or 5 years to get it. Crystal, who works as a Patient Services Associate at Sinai Hospital, is a lively young lady with that look of determination in her eyes. The kind of determination that usually only has one outcome; success. We also have Jemar Fleming, a 29 year old, married student who works for Mercy Hospital as a Lieutenant in their security force, enrolled in TESST because he was seeking a career change. A career change that would also afford him better means to support his family. With computers already being a hobby of his, it was natural that he would choose to enter into the IT field. There are hundreds of students, all from different backgrounds. They have all come here with for one common purpose and with one common goal; to better their lives. If you put the time and effort in, TESST will help you do just that.