Friday, May 11, 2007

A review of Coleman College's / Coleman University's CIS program, part 7

7/6/09 UPDATE: Coleman College is now known as Coleman University - this review was written for their classes that I took in 2005-2006, so some things in their curriculum may have changed since then.

Sorry it's been a while since part 6, but finally, here's part 7.

The final mod of Coleman College's CIS program. The capstone project - I don't remember the names of the actual classes at the moment and we always just called the last mod the "capstone" anyway, so that's all I'll be referring to it as. This is where the networking students and the programming students combine once again to build a system.

The networking side will build a network to house the application that the programmers create.

The first part of the class covers all the steps to systems design and implementation. The instructor I had would try to cover that as fast as possible so that we could dedicate the rest of our time to actually building the system itself.

For the programmers, the afternoon class was VB2. During lecture we were taught things like databinding, using a datagrid, and just all kinds of things relating to our application and how it would access our database. This was because in VB1, we didn't use a database at all in our projects, just text files and arrays. Databases make it much easier to navigate through your records. I absolutely loved the whole project. We were given specs and just left to program everything from scratch. I like these types of projects because it really tests what you've learned. The only thing is, I wish it had been in a different language than Visual Basic .NET - I would have enjoyed it more if our project was coded in either C++ or C#.

And since we got our project done early, we had time to get into some ASP .NET stuff. That was kind of neat, but it really wasn't a lot of time to learn it that much. I think a class with just ASP .NET would be great. Coleman College has probably started one by now since their curriculum always tries to stay current, but I don't really know what kinds of things they teach there now since I haven't been back there since I graduated.

Anyway, so what's the big deal about the capstone?? Well, at the end of it all, we have to do a big presentation of our entire system. Students are required to dress up in business attire and basically present it as if they were presenting it to a board of directors of a company. We have to cover things like feasibility, scalability, and all other kinds of -ilities and whatnot. Then we demonstrate how the system works - the networkers talk about their backup plans, data storage, security; the programmers give an overview of the program and show what it does - what data it collects, where it's stored, and give a quick runthrough of the application from beginning to end. It's at least a 40 minute presentation, and they invite the entire school to come and watch it - all the other classes and even the graphics department; and they entice people with snacks so that people will come and see it.

So if you're one of those people who hate public speaking in general, the capstone presentation is a killer - especially if you have a really small class or sometimes you may even be the ONLY person in your class. And you really have to know your stuff in case there are any questions. So if you don't like public speaking, consider yourself lucky if you have at least 3 people in your class since that way you won't have to talk as much. And consider yourself unlucky if you're the only person in your class. But, hey, once it's all over with, you're done because the final for both the morning class and the afternoon class is a piece of cake compared to giving the presentation.

So that's the capstone. I really loved the VB2 project in the class the most. Like I said before, I would have preferred if it was in a different language than VB, but I really have no control over that. ASP .NET - eh, I would have not wanted it covered at all if we really weren't going to delve that much into it, but I guess it was a nice little bonus. The presentation - mine went fine and I was less nervous during it than I thought I was going to be; everybody in my group got full points for it.

Overall, would I recommend Coleman College's CIS program?? Well, yes and no. Yes, if you know absolutely nothing about computers at all - you'll really learn a lot here. No, if you've already self-taught yourself some programming through online tutorials, books, or training videos, or even community college classes. If you already know how to write programs that work, you really don't need Coleman at all because I felt like with every mod, I was just always learning the basics of every language all over again. And it always seemed like there was not enough time to get into the more advanced things or not even enough time to write something that wasn't a CONSOLE or mostly text-only, non-GUI application. If you're already familiar with computers but don't know anything about programming at all, you'll find the first couple of mods a bit boring. But Coleman is a great way to go if you want to learn a lot of the basics (plus some advanced things here and there) of several programming languages quickly - in about 7 months, if you take classes during the day.

If you don't have the money to spend thousands of dollars (you can get a loan, but who wants to pay back loans?? They definitely push for loans in Coleman's financial aid department), you can always go to a community college. It'll take you longer to get your degree, but it's much cheaper and you'll probably learn more than just the basics of each language.

For me, I kind of wish I had gone the community college route and saved myself some money, but it's kind of annoying to do that when not all of the classes I need are offered every semester. Sometimes they rarely offer them at all. With Coleman, you don't really have to worry about stuff like that because they're required to provide the classes that you need, at least for the core program. Really though, Coleman is only worth all the money if you just want something fast-paced and are a quick learner. The teachers there are excellent - always willing to help you out no matter what, at least the teachers that I had.

If all you want is a Computer Science degree and don't care how long it takes you to get it, a community college would be your best option. It's a lot more affordable and your credits would transfer anywhere if you'd want to get a bachelor's degree at any other school. If you go to Coleman, you can only transfer your credits to other ACICS accredited schools. So if you go to Coleman, you're stuck with having to complete your Bachelors and Masters Degrees with them too... which would cost you even more $$$.

That's it for my review of the CIS program. I hope I've helped someone in making a decision. I might go into some non-CIS related stuff in the future, but that's all I have to say (for now) about their CIS program.

Here are the links to all of the parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7more thoughts