During fall and spring semesters, members of our Cybersecurity Club, TitanSec, are hard at work solving cybersecurity challenges. These students are participating in the National Cyber League (NCL), an online high school and collegiate Capture the Flag Competition (CTF). While the competitions are fun, members of the NCL are putting in serious hours to prepare for industry certifications. These include CompTIA Security+ and EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). This definitely does not feel like studying.
Contextualized out-of-class preparation helps students earn credentials to their degree.
Did you read my post about Certification Success Strategies? You may recall that most of our students who become certified, do so after spending at least 20-hours on out-of-class preparation. NCL members easily spend that amount of time completing the same type of technical challenges they will face in the workforce. As a fringe benefit, the challenges they encounter in the NCL were carefully aligned to both CompTIA Security+ and CEH certification competencies. Courses in the college’s Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics AS degree programs support both certifications. High-achieving students can become certified free, through use of Carl D. Perkins federal grant funds. The NCL provides students with a practical application to study topics they will be tested on. This makes preparing to certify more fun.
Challenge topics include:
Open Source Intelligence, Scanning, Enumeration and Exploitation, Password Cracking, Traffic Analysis, Log Analysis, Wireless Security, Cryptography and Web Application Security
A typical NCL Season Roster includes:
- Veteran players certified in previous semesters
- Newly certified students and those preparing for certification
- Novice players beginning their cybersecurity courses and searching for an interactive way to make their learning stick
Every skill level of cybersecurity student can enjoy playing in the NCL.
The NCL seasons have three phases over several weeks:
- Preseason (for bracket placement in Bronze, Silver, or Gold skill levels)
- Individual Game
- Team Game (Optional)
Participating students receive a NCL Scouting Report. This tracks their personal growth and may be shared with potential employers. They also receive continued access to the NCL Gymnasium, a practice area where they can develop their skills through guided challenges.
Once the season ends, many NCL participants sign-up for their certification exam dates. This past season, five of our NCL members became CompTIA Security+ certified. Several more students continue to prep as their exam date nears. Once CompTIA Security+ certified, most players go on to earn CEH too. The student benefit of a paid-CEH certification is $1,199.
Our certification-aligned courses can be referenced on each programs Academic Pathway. For more information about participating in the fall season’s National Cyber League, finding a cybersecurity tutor, or our free certification opportunities for Career and Technical Education students, email Julia Meyer Certification Testing Coordinator. #GetCertifiedSPC