John Scelfo, an information technology manager for a major food distributor, wanted to return to college to earn a degree in information technology. But he wasn’t sure he had the time or the patience to pursue such a degree. Most colleges, he thought, would make him take entry-level courses, the contents of which he already knew from his job. And working a busy schedule, he suspected he wouldn’t have time to commute.
But thanks to a new program for professional advancement offered at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) known as Weekend University, Scelfo is now on his way to earning his IT degree.
“The classes have been great and they are offered at convenient times,” said Scelfo, of Mt. Olive Township. “After I get my undergraduate certificate I’ll apply work experience towards getting my bachelor’s, which will make it quicker and less expensive. The program is also flexible – I don’t have to take entry-level information technology classes that I don’t need because of my job. Overall the program is perfectly designed for someone like me.”
Weekend University makes it convenient for working adults such as Scelfo to return to college. Classes are offered on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, and students can attend classes once a week or once every other week. The classes, which run for an hour and a half and are supplemented by on-line work, meet on the NJIT campus.
Students can begin Weekend University by enrolling in one of two 24-credit certificate programs: Essentials of Information Security and Essentials of Information Systems Management. Once students complete a certificate program, they can apply those credits towards the NJIT bachelor’s degree in IT. They can earn credit for work experience and apply it towards the bachelor’s degree. In this way, students earn two credentials – a certificate and a bachelor’s degree - for the price of one, said Gale Tenen Spak, PhD, associate vice president of continuing and distance learning education at NJIT.
“The Weekend University is open to adults who are looking to gain a stand-alone credential quickly in a hot information-related employment field and who may also want to complete a college degree,” added Spak. “It is tailored for adults who want to be lifelong learners and stay on top of their professions. Researchers who study adult learners note that most of them need to remain at their jobs but they also want to earn the qualifications to get promotions. Weekend University is intended to help them achieve that goal.”
Take Scelfo, for example. He has worked for AFI Food Service, Elizabeth, for ten years. He started out at the bottom: working in the warehouse. He later transferred to the firm’s IT division. Back in the early 1990s, Scelfo had enrolled in a private university where he studied IT. But due to financial constraints, he was forced to drop out. Nonetheless he worked his way up to IT manager at AFI - a job he’s held for two years. Now he wants to enter the executive IT rank, and he thinks having a bachelor’s degree will help him. So he enrolled in the certificate program and is taking a computer science class and an accounting class.
Scelfo’s plan to earn an IT bachelor’s degree to help him reach the executive rank is well founded. Students who earn the bachelor degree will be well positioned to find high-demand jobs, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Top 50 Occupations report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks information technology as the profession expected to grow fastest over the next ten years, while the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development says that these jobs are among the top 50 occupations in demand in the state.
Students in the information security program at Weekend University take classes such as ethical hacking; computer forensics; wireless networks technology; and computer and network security, where students who select information systems management take classes such as database system design and management; systems for analysis and design for managers; and decision support systems.
The IT bachelor’s degree offers students a multidisciplinary approach, allowing them to choose a specific area to apply computing and telecommunications technologies, said Spak. The degree balances emphasis on software and hardware applications with an array of concentrations in many fields. It prepares students to integrate, design and manage computing and telecommunication resources. Through core courses that provide knowledge of information technology functions, system development and applications, the program helps students develop a marketable expertise in information technology.
“I’ve taken what I learned in my classes and already used it to help me do my job,” said Scelfo. “The business and financial side of my job is just as important as the technological side and my accounting class has been a great help to me. Overall, Weekend University has been a great help to me this semester and I plan to take more classes next semester and to soon get my IT degree.”
The deadline to enroll in Weekend University for the spring semester is Jan. 19. For more information or to apply to the program call NJIT’s Continuing Professional Education office at 800-624-9850 or visit http://adultlearner.njit.edu/weekend.
Using an extensive information technology infrastructure, an array of experts and full video production studios, the NJIT Division of Continuing Professional Education offers a proven end-to-end education and training solution. In the past decade, NJIT has trained more than 54,000 professionals associated with over 500 companies and each year educates roughly 8,000 students in degree programs and another 6,000 professionals, many of them through online non-credit courses. NJIT is now sixth in the nation for online enrollments in engineering and computing programs according to a U.S. News and World Report 2005 survey of America’s Best Online Graduate Degree Programs.