September 1972 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
When I ran across this
"A Guide to Home Study Education in Electronics" article in a 1972 issue of
Popular Electronics (PE), I did a double-take upon seeing the author's name.
This author wrote pieces for National Radio Institute (NRI*) home study courses
like the one appearing in a 1971 issue of
NRI Journal, which supports his qualification
for penning this particular article. He has appeared in '73 and Ham
Radio (and other amateur radio) magazines since the 1970s. His name still regularly
shows up in the bylines of articles in
Microwaves & RF,
Nuts and Volts. Many books
have been published in his name including
Principles of Electronic Communication Systems
(and the attendant
Handbook of Serial Communications Interfaces,
Electronics Explained: The New Systems Approach
to Learning Electronics,
Contemporary Electronics, Fundamentals, Devices,
Circuits and Systems, and even one entitled
How to Become a VP: Achieving Personal Success in
Your Organization. At this point in time, there are not a whole lot of people
who could claim the accomplishments in terms of having been so widely read over
so many years by laymen, hobbyists, students, and professionals.
* BTW, I completed an
Design Technology course in 1987.
A Guide to Home Study Education in Electronics
This Article Will Help You Make up Your
Mind About Which School to Select for Your Needs
By Louis E. Frenzel, Jr.
Success in electronics, whether it is your career or simply an avocation, is
almost always directly traceable to a good understanding of electronics fundamentals.
This understanding is, in turn, usually the result of a good education in electronics;
and one of the most efficient ways to get this basic education is through home study.
However, correspondence schools and their home study courses seem to be an enigma
to some people, despite their wide appeal and popularity for many others. If you've
considered taking a home study course, but can't make up your mind, perhaps we can
help you decide.
Putting Home Study in Perspective. Home study is an excellent learning: method.
It is widely recognized in government, business, and industry because of its effectiveness.
It is also the lowest in cost and most convenient method of education in existence
It costs many thousands of dollars to complete a college or resident technical
school education, but the cost of a good home study course is usually in the $100
to $1,000 range. Compared to resident classes, that's a real bargain.
Home study is also the most convenient method of education. The school comes
to you. When you enroll, the school sends you an of the materials you need to learn
the subject. You study the lesson texts and work with the other training materials,
such as kits and audio/visual devices, to learn the subject matter. You study on
your own schedule and by your own method.
Private Home Study Schools
* The National Home Study Council (NHSC) is designated by the
U.S. Office of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Write them
at 1601 18th St., NW., Washington DC 20009, for specific information on accreditation.
The Association of Career Training Schools (ACTS) is a trade association of home
study schools that sets standards for member schools. All of above schools are VA
approved meaning that the Veterans Administration will pay for the entire course
for you if you are eligible for benefits under the G.I. Bill.
Home Study vs. Self Study.
Many people say, "Why should I enroll for a formal home study course in electronics
and pay several hundred dollars when I can go to the public library, check out the
books that I need, and learn the material from them myself?" The fact is, you can;
self study does work. It is quite possible to find the appropriate books, study,
and learn the subject yourself. However, it is probably the most difficult and demanding
method of education. It can be difficult to find textbooks or other materials that
cover the subject matter adequately. Should you be lucky enough to find suitable
material at the library or a bookstore, there is the problem of disciplining yourself
to sit down, read the material, and work appropriate problems. Very few people have
the perseverance it takes to do this.
A home study course is similar in many ways to self study in that you read and
study the material yourself. However, the formal home study course has quite a bit
more going for it. First, the course is a formal package of educational materials
planned to teach you a particular subject at a specific level. It is put together
by technically qualified educators who know the subject matter and know how to present
it for best results. The school provides you with all of the study materials necessary.
A formal home study course also helps to motivate you. Because you have paid
a certain amount of money for the course, you feel some incentive and obligation
to study and complete it.
The home study school provides many additional services and benefits not available
in the self study method. Qualified instructors are on hand to answer your technical
questions about the course and usually about related subjects as well. In addition,
upon completion of the course your achievement is recognized by the awarding of
an appropriate diploma which carries a certain amount of weight and prestige. Some
schools even have alumni associations, periodic magazines or newsletters, and job
location assistance. All of these are things that you do not get with self study.
Although self study works, you will learn your subject faster and more thoroughly
with a formal home study program.
As for resident schools, you wouldn't ordinarily think that home study schools
would compete, but in reality there are many cases where they do.
For example, what happens if you can't get into the college or resident technical
school of your choice for academic or other reasons? 'What if there isn't a college
or appropriate school available where you live? What if there is an appropriate
school in your area but it does not offer night courses, the only type of course
that you can take because you work full time? What if you cannot afford the cost
of the school? If you are prevented from attending a college or resident technical
school for any one of these reasons, then you should consider a home study course.
Why Take a Home Study Course?
So now that you are thinking about taking a course, you want to know what's really
in it for you. Let's take a look at some of the benefits that you might obtain.
1. You will obtain a greater knowledge of your specialty. A good home study course
in electronics is going to give you a good background in electronics fundamentals.
You will learn theory that will open your mind and give you new insights into your
work. A lot of things that you may have worked with before but not fully understood
will finally become perfectly clear.
2. Your increased knowledge of electronics will permit you to do a better job.
You will be more competent and will, therefore, have a greater confidence in your
work. This could possibly lead to a raise or a promotion with its increased responsibility
and the need for greater technical knowledge.
3. Your newly gained knowledge could qualify you for a different and better job.
You may find that, with your increased knowledge and confidence, your present job
is no longer suitable or satisfying. A new job could bring you even greater success.
4. Your increased knowledge may permit you to meet some special goal which you
have set for yourself. For example, you may want or need a first class radio telephone
license. The course you take may qualify you to pass the FCC exam for this license.
Then again, your improved competency could help you pass the test for a particular
job or for that important service promotion that you have been wanting.
5. Last, and perhaps the most important benefit of all, is the fact that completing
a home study course and gaining the knowledge it contains will give you greater
confidence and self respect, two characteristics that will help you to move ahead
more than anything else.
Although all of these things can result from taking a correspondence course,
you should also have the proper attitude about it. Most employers will recognize
such work since it shows perseverance, a desire to get ahead, and a certain level
of education and competence. But you may also find that some employers virtually
fail to recognize it at all. They are not aware of its benefits, but that is their
loss. Don't be discouraged if you run across this attitude. Maintain your confidence
and keep going. The benefits of a home study education are more subtle than bold
Which Course Should You Take?
Once you have decided that you are going to take a home study course, the next
step is to set yourself a specific goal that you wish to achieve. You have to know
what you want to do before you can determine which course to take. You may wish
to review basic electronics to ensure your knowledge of fundamentals. Then again,
you may just want specialized advanced training in some subject area such as computers,
communications, or mathematics. Try to determine your specific goal before you choose
a school and course.
Once you have set your goal you can proceed to locate a school offering the course
you want. The table accompanying this article gives a list of home study schools
offering courses in electronics and related areas. Simply drop a post card to those
schools in the list. Don't overlook the postage-paid insert cards accompanying the
ads for some schools in this magazine. Each of them will gladly send you a catalog
and complete information on their school and its courses. Accumulate all of this
information first and study it carefully. You will find some schools that meet your
specific goals and others that do not. Narrow the choice down to possibly one or
two schools. Then study each of these schools and their course selections carefully.
Find the one best suited to your needs. If the catalog information sent to you by
the school does not answer all your questions, by all means write the school with
your specific questions. He absolutely sure that the course and school are right
for you before you make the investment.
Some schools employ sales representatives. Instead of getting a catalog from
the school, you may receive a call from a salesman. The salesman will give you complete
details on the school and the various courses. Just remember that these representatives
are salesmen and will encourage you to enroll promptly. Take your time, however,
and study each school carefully before you make a decision.
Courses with Kits
When you are investigating the schools and courses, you will find a number of
the courses include kits. These kits will teach you to solder, build and use various
pieces of electronic equipment, run experiments, make tests, collect data and draw
conclusions. You may even build and use several very interesting and useful end
products, such as test equipment, a TV set, or a digital computer.
Kits in a course can be extremely beneficial, especially if you are not experienced
in handling electronic hardware. They permit you to put theory into practice. After
all, as a technician or an engineer, you will be working with hardware. Nothing
is better than actual experience with real hardware.
On the other hand, if you have had some experience in electronics and have worked
with hardware, tools, instruments, and components, then you may wish to take a course
without kits, and save some time and money.
College Home Study Courses
The home study schools and courses listed in the table are private schools. The
courses they offer are modern, up-to-date, and very effective. However, often overlooked
as sources of home study education are the colleges and universities themselves.
Many of the larger state universities offer home study courses for college credit.
In most cases these courses duplicate the same courses offered in residence at the
college or university. If the course is completed satisfactorily, standard college
quarter credits or semester hour credits are awarded. In many instances you can
achieve from one-fourth to one-half of all of the college credits needed for a Bachelor's
degree by correspondence. The exact requirements vary depending upon the subject
area and the college in which you do your work. Generally speaking, however, the
first two college years can be completed through correspondence.
For more information on this subject, send fifty cents to the National University
Extension Association, 900 Silver Spring Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910 and
ask for their bulletin "A Guide to Correspondence Study in Colleges and Universities."
This will give you complete information on all the colleges and universities offering
courses for college credit.
Starting and Finishing a Course
Once you have decided upon a course and school, the next step is to enroll. This
is generally a very easy procedure since it only involves filling out a simple form
and sending it in with the necessary money. With a small down payment you can get
started immediately. Reasonable monthly payments can then be made over a period
of two to three years, the time limit generally given in which to complete your
course. Keep in mind that when you enroll in most schools you are signing a contract.
This contract obligates you to make the payments monthly whether you study the course
or not. It is your obligation to see that you get your money's worth.
There are many hundreds of thousands of successful correspondence course graduates,
but there are probably thousands of others who have started a home study course
and not completed it.
Most people are quite enthusiastic about a home study course when they first
enroll. They get right to work when the course materials arrive. However, this initial
enthusiasm can taper off if you don't stay with it. If you study regularly, you
won't lose interest.
No doubt there are many who enrolled in a home study course at one time or another
but dropped out or discontinued studies for some reason. Maybe you weren't aware
of the effort involved in completing such a course. Perhaps the course is not what
you expected. Just remember that your failure to complete the course is generally
your fault rather than that of the school. Most schools want you to complete the
course and will make every effort to help you do so. If you are having trouble under-standing
the material or developing the proper study habits, don't hesitate to write the
school and tell them about it. They have dealt with these problems for years and
are experienced in handling them.
It is always a good idea to try to complete what you start. It will give you
great personal satisfaction.
In addition, it will give you the self-respect and confidence that are so important
to success in electronics. You won't know what this satisfaction is really like
until you experience it. In many ways this self-satisfaction and confidence in your
own ability may be a more important factor than the actual education in electronics
obtained from the course.
Posted December 5, 2019