Quinsigamond Community College (QCC), located in Worcester, MA conferred me an Associate’s Degree, and employed me for four years as an A/V Technician in. It is one of the cheaper colleges in the Worcester area and it’s known for both its nursing program, its various and certificate programs that continue to evolve with the times, GED training, and often ended up being where official state meetings would occur due to geographic convenience.
It is a public, two-year college, that also receives its support from a foundation. Its mascot is the Wyvern, symbolic of the mythical and protective creature that perches atop of Worcester, England.
I was a computer geek back in the day and my education from QCC was designed to help me secure work as a Help Desk technician or similar jobs in IT departments. As you’ll see below, my degree of study was a combination of computer repair and programming.
The links below are accurate as of May 2017.
Summer of 2001 – Fresh out of high school
Beginning Algebra – Providing a link to the class would be more effective than relying on my memory. The description hasn’t changed since I took it, and Algebra isn’t a topic that sees revisions by the year. I took this in summer as a way to knock one class out and get the credits. It was rough, it was cumbersome, and the classroom was sweltering. Somehow, I came out with a B+. I also suspect my professor’s grading was on the relaxed side.
Introduction to Microcomputer Applications: This was the introductory course for Microsoft Office 2000. If QCC used TA’s, I could have qualified to be the one for this class. I spent more time helping my fellow students than I did learning anything else. I’m sure for those without exposure to Office at the time, it was a challenge. Microsoft word processing was all I knew at the time. Pretty much aced it.
Computer Electronics: We learned how to design computer circuitry and test logic gates. This class seemed more appropriate for a manufacturing major than either a computer repair technician, or a programmer. For a 100-level class, not only did I do horrible in it, but I just barely passed by the skin of my teeth. I can still remember the professor wondering why I hadn’t dropped the class with how badly I was doing. Hindsight being 50/50, I would have gone to my advisor and realigned my course of study. Nevertheless, a D was considered passing, and it earned me the three credits I needed. Given that I never became a manufacturing major, I’ve never used anything I learned in that class.
English Communication: I recall this being an entry-level writing course. The school’s website doesn’t have a course description anymore, but needless to say, being a voracious reader came in handy. I would say the only reason I earned a B in this class was because I’m a horrible test taker.
Intermediate Algebra: Another class I don’t recall what I learned, but much like its predecessor, I somehow made it through with a B. As I think hard about this class, this one was taught by a professor whose English was reprehensible and his ability to convey the information was atrocious.
Operating Systems: DOS, Windows, Unix: The first class I had with a professor who we only knew as “NT.” I had this class in the basement of the Suprenant Building. NT was the type of processor that knew his stuff, but was horrible at conveying it. We asked him at the end of the semester what “NT” stood for, but he only answered it by saying that it would be hard to pronounce in America. Halfway through the semester, when NT was absent a few times, we were taught by another professor who doubled as my advisor. We found that we learned more from him in a month, than we’d learned from NT in an entire semester. This class mainly focused on troubleshooting a computer from the BIOS and underbelly aspects. At the time, it was designed to be a course that teaches you how an operating system works.
Computer Systems I: This took Operating Systems to another level by learning how to further troubleshoot within Windows 2000. This was more of a software-level class than hardware compared to the OS class.
Computer Systems II: We delved into network troubleshooting with Windows 2000 and how to configure LANs, WANs, as well as the basics of TCP/IP. The focus of the class was to learn fundamentally how to create LANs, work with domains, and troubleshoot it at a basic level. My knowledge of TCP/IP must have failed me because I ended up with a slightly lower grade this time around.
English Composition and Literature I: I learned the fundaments of how to write formal documents, how to write for different audiences, and how to develop the writing skills necessary for writing papers at the baccalaureate level. Despite my aptitude for writing, I somehow only pulled a B+ in here.
College Math I: Precalculus: Since this class exposes you to trigonometry, if higher-level math isn’t your strength, or if engineering isn’t part of your career goals, consider not taking it. At a minimum, you’re looking at manipulation of graphs, plotting points, and beginning to learn about quadratic equations. Had my head been in the right place, I probably should have realized that any math class was going to be my downfall, but any class involving English or writing would be my strength.
English Composition and Literature II: The intention of this class is to introduce you to integrating sources and learning how to properly cite them. The quality of one’s writing is also supposed to incrementally increase with this class. Again, another class I did fairly well with, earning a B+. Hindsight being 50/50, this would have been the prime time to consider reconsidering my choice of major.
College Math II: Trigonometry: What comes to mind immediately when you think of Trigonometry? Sines, Cosines, and Tangents – and their inverses, secants, cosecants, and cotangents. Even though this class was in the accelerate format in another hot room, I must have been at this professor’s office on a regular basis going over concepts. Professors always say, “I’d rather you come to me than struggle.” I sufficiently managed to push the boundaries of that phrase. Still, I came out with a C.
Windows Server Operating Systems: This was taught with Windows Server 2000 at the time, but applying the concepts included in the linked description. This was considered an entry-level course for server operating systems and learning how to configure and troubleshoot within. It wouldn’t qualify you to work in a server room, but it would give you the basic knowledge to start getting prepared for the Microsoft Certified Systems Associate. It was never explained to me until I graduated that I could have potentially become A+, NET+, and/or MCSE certified from the classes we were taking.
Networking with TCP/IP: This took CSII’s introduction to TCP/IP, and took you inside the protocol to learn how it works, and how network traffic travels over a wire. We had to deconstruct the IP stack, explain how the traffic flowed between layers, and identify all the layers. In the current day, courses like this teach you how to analyze network traffic to detect breaches, hacking, and when there’s unauthorized use of your company’s assets in real-time.
Network Management: This was a combination of hands-on learning how to build and create a network on paper as well as how to troubleshoot when things go awry. This was also done in a time before software was mainstream that allowed you to plan things out electronically – it all had to be done on paper. If you’ve seen a network diagram on a whiteboard, this class helps you design them.
Digital Computer Circuits: This is where we learned more depth about the functions of the individual components that comprise a piece of electronics. We had to identify the different parts, both physically and on a schematic, differences in parallel and series circuits, and we were given situations to troubleshoot. This time, I took my lesson and withdrew from the class before I faced a failing grade. This was another course that was more appropriate for a manufacturing major, than for a Help Desk position.
Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships: If you ever wanted to know how and why people behave and function the way they do, both individually and in groups, this would be the class to take.
Speech Communication Skills: Most colleges call this “Public Speaking 101” contemporarily. You learn how to create speeches and other presentations, and present them to the front of the class. It’s supposed to be one step in helping you move past your fear(s) of public speaking. Made it out with at a B- and earned three transferable credits despite not having alleviated my anxiety of public speaking.
Enterprise Networking: This class took us into the paper creation, physical and logical design, and deployment of a network in the enterprise/corporate environment. Still, we worked with Windows 2000, and learned about the networking programs available at the time that could be used to monitor IP traffic, analyzed network designs, and learned how to be responsive to a potential client. Classes like these was where I faltered – I did okay with learning the functions of the operating system, and how to troubleshoot them, but planning and designing was showing itself not to be my forte.
Computer Systems Cooperate Education: Contemporarily referred to as an “internship.” Mine consisted of working in a computer lab helping other students with their projects while earning three credits for completion of the major. Contemporarily, you would take on an internship with an employer for college credit while potentially getting paid.
Technical and Workplace Writing: When you want to specialize in a specific type of writing, this is where you’d start. This is also where we refined our writing, strengthened our grammar, spelling, prose, and form. This covered a number of different occupations. This was the first class where we were exposed to various styles of writing (Chicago, NY Times, and AP Style, are the most popular). My grade wasn’t quite as high as I would have expected, but I also know that my style of writing was incongruent with my professor’s.
Principles of Management: This made up a crash course on how to be effective when you take on a supervisors or managerial role. The professor I had made the class exciting with his sense of humor, but reminded us that the higher you ascend in the ranks, the less humorous it becomes.
Beginning Spanish I: I took four years of Spanish in high school, this three credit class, and yet I’m about 15% verbally fluent and about 35-40% literate. Spanish hasn’t changed much since the late 90s, so it was clearly my aptitude in understanding the content. The class was designed to build on the fundamentals that most learn in high school, and would be the first step toward the completion of a foreign language requirement.
Unix Operating Systems I: We received an introduction to Fedora Redhat Linux. We also learned how to install a Linux-driven network, troubleshoot it, and how to install services and updates. We also learned the difference in operations between a Windows and Linux network. This also would get a students started on their way to get Linux+ certified.
Fall 2003 – Final semester
Introduction to Programming with C++: The introductory course to C++ and its applications. The entire class was spent learning how to code in C++ using project material related to real-life scenarios. For those looking to get a four-year degree in Computer Science, this gets you started on the programming path.
Introduction to Routing: This was a brand-new class when I took it. I wanted to learn how routers functioned and I wanted to learn how to create subnets. The crux of the class was learning how to route using a Cisco router and exploring how robust they can be. Our instructor also encouraged us to explore becoming Cisco CCNA certified after completion of the class.
My final GPA at the end of it all: 2.73
Time it took to complete: Two years.