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GUIDE to (mostly) Harmless Hacking

*** How to Get a Free Education in Computer Science or Engineering

Besides the Cyber Service scholarships, http://www.sfs.opm.gov/ , there are many other ways to get a free university education in computer engineering. A quick Google search on “computer engineering” and scholarships turns up over three million entries. However, some scholarships are easier to get than others, and some of these will do more for your career than others.

One of your best bets for a scholarship is to check the websites of schools you might want to attend. Some examples of places where your degree would be golden:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -- hacking was invented here in 1959!!! http://web.mit.edu/scholarships/
University of California at Berkeley http://www.berkeley.edu/applying/aid/
Rensselaer http://admissions.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=4&setappvar=page(1)
New Mexico Tech http://www.nmt.edu/prospective/admin/sch/index.htm
University of Texas at Austin http://finaid.utexas.edu/sources/scholarships/
University of New Mexico http://www.unm.edu/~schol/
Carnegie Mellon http://www.cmu.edu/enrollment/admission/know/scholar.html
Purdue http://www.science.purdue.edu/prospective_students/scholarships/
George Mason http://ite.gmu.edu/general/scholarships.htm

Some of the best scholarships come as a free benefit of military service. In the U.S., your best bet may be to join a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in high school (if you are lucky enough to have a ROTC program at your high school) or at the college or university you plan to attend. ROTC scholarships will pay tuition plus living expenses. During your subsequent military career you will have opportunities to study further. Many officers get their Ph.D.s while in the service.

Naval-Marine Corps ROTC https://www.nrotc.navy.mil
Army ROTC http://www.armyrotc.com
Air Force ROTC http://www.afrotc.com

In addition, some of the best educational institutions in the U.S. are run by the U.S. Department of Defense.

United States Naval Academy http://www.usna.edu///homepage.php
United States Air Force Academy http://www.usafa.af.mil/
United States Military Academy at West Point http://www.usma.edu/
Naval Postgraduate School http://www.nps.edu/
National Defense University http://www.ndu.edu/

Ultimately, your best bet for finding a great college or university is to find out where the "best" computer security researchers got their degrees. Of course, that means knowing who the "best" really are. Since this may not be easy, an alternative is to look for accreditations.

*** Accreditations: the good, the not so good, and the ugly

Just about every college or university says it is "accredited." So what! Some accreditations are good, some are not so good, and some are ugly as a mud fence and worth about as much.

Let’s start with both the good and maybe not so good accreditations. Under what is known as the "Generally Accepted Accreditation Principles," a valid accreditation should be given by either:

* An agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html?src=qc
* Council on Higher Education Accreditation http://www.chea.org/
* International Handbook of Universities
* Commonwealth Universities Yearbook http://www.acu.ac.uk/yearbook/yearbook.html
* World Education Series http://www.aacrao.org/publications/catalog/wes.cfm
* Country Education profiles http://aei.dest.gov.au/AEI/QualificationsRecognition/CountryEducationProfiles/Default.htm

If you can find an institution of higher learning in one of these databases, then at least you know it isn't a total scam. However, among these accreditations you will find a wide range of quality. For example, schools accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) offer degrees that have far less value than places accredited, for example, by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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