Sometimes it seems as if there are almost as many ways to study as there are certifications to study for. Choosing which method to use is often a battle between your budget, your learning style and your daily schedule. Throw in a healthy dose of the boss's biases and you've got enough variables to set your head spinning faster than your computer's hard drive. But despite the flood of new books, online courses, self-paced CD-ROMs and instructional videos competing to educate you, the oldest, least sexy medium of all is often the most expedient and effective: traditional classroom training.
In addition to serving as an ally against the procrastination beast, classroom training comes with that most valuable of assetsa living, breathing, involved instructor. A good instructor will adapt and respond to class needs. Got a question specific to your company's computing environment? Need a few real-life stories from the field to bring the material home? With a canned course, you're out of luck, but in a classroom the chances are good that you'll be able to receive these extras and others.
Although not always the case, chances are also good that your course will include hands-on access to the technology being studied. Although one can learn how to configure a Cisco router or add a new user to a Windows 2000 network through reading or hearing about it, nothing brings home the process more than doing it. Simulation software and remote labs make it possible to do some of this on your own, but they don't come with a handy instructor to guide you or bail you out if you get too adventurous and screw up the works.
Plus, classroom training is a lot more expensive than self-study through books. Classes cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars eachcompare that with $50 to several hundred dollars in books or CD ROMs. A third feature of classroom training that some people find objectionable is that you will have to proceed at a pace defined by the instructor. You won't be able to zip ahead or lag behind to any significant degree. For most people this is a plus more than a minus.