Brainstorming for a friend

Family friend has a high school diploma, out of cash and want to improve his life and hope for the future.  Is over 30.  Is self educated in tons of computer-related fields, and skilled in Access, etc.  BUT wants to go to school at night to explore new opportunities and hopes in life.  No cash, little time.  He thought about learning Networking, thought about making money with what he loves (creating new digital music), thought about finding something he'd love to do AND make good money.  He has rebuilt computers, knows a lot about hardware and software, many platforms and has been self-taught in many areas.  Tough...

C# is new and tons of possibilities, I thought.  Assuming programming would be a good direction to explore, looking for comments and ideas.  If networking is the general choice he makes, where to start in terms of online education?  If general work to maintain networks, hardware, software sound plausible, ideas and links.

Basic brainstorming thread here, and ideas, links and recommendations are appreciated, given all I've noted above.

If more than one gives great insights, will ask a moderator to split points.

Thanks a bunch for your guidance.  I'll check back when I can, swamped at work.

LVL 27
Asta CuAsked:
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magarityConnect With a Mentor Commented:
If this person is in the USA, anyone over 26 is virtually guaranteed to get a student load from the federal government.  Don't waste time going to one or two evening classes at a time, it will take forever to get a degree.  Get the complete loan package and hit the books full time.  A public university in his home state will have low tuition rates.  A very part time job or campus workstudy provides lunch money and interest payments (very low rates) on the loan.

The feds would much rather loan you the money at cheap rates now so you can make bucks after graduation and pay them some taxes.  They make it very easy to get these cheap loans.  You make more, they make more, everybody's happy.  Being out of money is no excuse for no university degree.
Microsoft world is becoming saturated with MSCE people, so job oppurtunities becoming limited in this field.

I would recommend, if he can stomach it, a life in the UNIX or AS400 world.  These two platforms are not going anywhere and as the time has progressed, people have shyed away from these areas, because they are not mainstream.

Just my observation, which includes job listing observations.
Just listening...
Asta CuAuthor Commented:
Thank you both for your insights and help.  My friend reviewed this and has made the decision to award magarity for the insights that will help him significantly in his next choices.

PS - Getting in to school and financing it are the easy parts.  Deciding on the correct major is the hard part.  No one else can do this for you though, so you'll just have to look through the entire list of majors offered by X State University.  Keep in mind:  studying a field in which you are self taught will make lower level (1xx, 2xx) classes a little tedious, but upper level (3xx, 4xx) classes might be more interesting.

Depending on how technical of a job you want after graduating, you can get a very handy all-purpose degree like business management.  Various liberal arts degrees, like economics or history are also good.  This avoids tedium in classes about which you already know but gives you the authority of a degree holder.  

Sometimes an education in one area is incorrect because of the nature of the field.  You mention music.  Music in particular is a dog-eat-dog ruthless business, so the wise go into that having studied business while picking up music in their spare time.  The money in music is in management.  As an example:  Love Me Do, the first big single by the Beatles: 1 cent per record sold to divide among the four band members, 30 cents for manager Brian Epstein.  In fact, no matter what your final major, I recommend everyone take at least a couple of business management or business finance classes.  Remember, plenty of unscrupulous people out there HAVE taken these classes and would love to take advantage of your ignorance.  My U had a class titled 'Economics of Rock and Roll' which was not frivolous like the title might suggest.

Anyway, you'll have to take the general requirements first regardless of what major you end up with, so spend the first semester or two plotting.  Make a career plan (ie: decide what you want to do when you grow up) and then go ask your faculty advisor what major is the wisest given what you already know about whatever field.  The answer might not be the obvious.
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