Which route should I take, the programming concentration or the hardware/networking concentration?
It depends on where one's interest lies. Both disciplines are equally financially rewarding (check out the IT salary survey link). Both programs are equally rigorous. Both disciplines require problem solving skills. If you enjoy the more tangible, hands-on approach, manually setting up equipment and making the electro-mechanical end of computing work, then the hardware/networking concentration may be for you. However, both disciplines are keenly integrated and a knowledge of both is essential to success in the IT field.
Applying early has its benefits. The Admissions Office processes your application and "clears" you to register. The benefit is that you can either be advised or register for classes without standing in long lines. And, of course, you can apply on-line.
Why do I have to take College Algebra as a part of the course work? Does anybody ever use it?
Algebra helps to build cognitive skills which are essential for systemic problem solving. The computer is a electro/mathematical entity. To have a firm grasp of what goes on in a computer, knowledge of mathematics is essential. Development of computer programs more often than not utilizes a great deal of algebraic logic. Statistics can be a valuable elective for the prospective computer programmer/database administrator.
Are computer programming, networking, and hardware technician financially rewarding careers?
With 0-2 years of experience, many computer related jobs start at the lower $30,000 per range. This will depend on local demands in various parts of the country (and world). The courses of study are designed to prepare the student for a variety of industry recognized certifications such as Microsoft's MCSE certification. Any recognized certification typically brings with it enhanced salary possibilities.
Will I be ready to enter the workforce upon successfully completing a course of study?
The CIS coursework is designed to give a maximum amount of hands-on experience over the four-semester course. The coursework involves as close to actual practice case studies and projects that can be designed. A practicum or internship is also required during the last semester. Students should be well prepared to enter the workforce after successful completion of either concentration.