Finding the Right CTEC
A CTEC's closing can affect many people, including students. Here are nine ways to protect yourself and your investment.
to many of the contract MCTs and employees at Global Training Solutions
is disheartening. It's always hard when a training school shuts
down partially or completely, but not only because some folks are out
of a job. It's perhaps hardest of all on students who have often taken
out large loans and invested huge quantities of time studying and practicing
for certification exams.
the whole series:
1: Outraged Ex-Employees of Training Company
Allege Theft, Fraud
2: A Pattern of Intentional Non-Payment
3: What's Happening with Training Companies?
There's usually no way to predict if a CTEC is in financial trouble.
Most are very good at downplaying any indications that everything isn't
hunky-dory; and none, of course, will try to talk you out of enrolling
because there's a chance they might not be around to see your education
through to the end. But there are ways you can minimize your chances of
choosing a bad CTEC or having your loan become an albatross around your
neck if the school closes.
- Don't choose a school just because it has national reputation. Many
national CTECs are franchises, and just as the quality of food can vary
from one Taco Bell to the next, the quality of training can be markedly
different in different schools from the same company.
- Don't sign up with the first CTEC you check out. It might be great,
but you may find one that's even greater through more checking. Also,
you won't have any basis for comparison if you only examine one or two
schools. Remember: This is your future you're investing in. Take the
time to find the school that meets your particular needs.
- There's no substitute for sitting in on a class and experiencing
it for yourself. Any CTEC worth its salt will allow a prospective student
to sit in on a class or two. Try to sit in on one that's teaching the
same course as one you want to take. If a CTEC won't let you do that,
run the other way.
- Talk to other students about their experiences at the CTEC and get
lists of former students you can call. Ask questions: Were their instructors
well prepared? Do they have real-world experience, or are they career-changers
who just got their MCSEs last year and started teaching right away?
Is the equipment current? How good is the placement office? When calling
previous students, ask if the training they received helped prepare
them for their IT jobs.
- Ask to see student evaluations of instructors. If they refuse, follow
the previous advice and find another school that will.
- Try to avoid paying for a whole track in advance. If you're going
for an MCSE, MCDBA, or other certification, pay on a per-class basis
rather than all at once. That way, if a school closes, you'll have paid
only for the classes you've actually taken. If it closes in the middle
of a class, you'll only be out a little bit of money (and maybe a lot
of time), instead of losing your entire $6,000, $8,000 or $11,000 investment.
A CTEC may refuse to do this, but be firm: Most are so desperate for
students these days that they may accommodate you.
The other advantage of this, if you take out a loan to pay for your education,
is that you can use the rest of your loan money to transfer to a different
school or pay off the balance more quickly. It won't be in the hands of
the bankrupt company.
- Many states require training companies to be licensed to train individuals.
Check with your state on the rules. If it requires licensure, you may
have some legal recourse if the school shuts down.
- Your chances of getting solid, consistent training are enhanced if
the CTEC uses primarily full-time MCTs instead of contract trainers.
There's a greater likelihood that a full-time instructor will be there
the entire length of your training, as a contractor's schedule tends
to be less predictable—and the position a bit more expendable by
the training firm that's hired him or her.
- If there are no CTECs nearby, or none that impresses you, consider
online training. The technology is getting better all the time, allowing
more interaction between teachers and students. Most online training
companies are also adding more hands-on components, connecting students
to live servers through Terminal Services and other connectivity options,
better simulating the work you'll do in an actual production environment.
For its part, Microsoft declined to answer specific questions about GTS,
including whether it's investigating the company or plans to take any
action against the CTEC. It issued the following statement: "Microsoft
takes our partner and customer relationships seriously. We establish annual
guidelines and requirements in an effort to ensure the highest quality
customer experience. We continually work to build relationships with Microsoft
CTECs who share our values. If Microsoft determines that a Microsoft CTEC
partner is not operating within, or upholding, the program agreement then
we are committed to evaluating the issues and ensuring that there is a
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.