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 DETROIT, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Computer education experts say students of all ages shopping for courses in basic or advanced personal computer skills should use caution in selecting a school.
 For a high school student just getting started or a mid-career professional, the choice of a computer training school is critical to the practical experience to be gained.
 "Computer literacy is absolutely critical to both students and adults," said Rick Inatome, founder of Inacomp Computer Centers Inc. "To survive in the job market, computer skills are an increasingly important factor in both entry level jobs and advanced positions. The most advanced hardware and software is useless without training."
 Picking the right school for computer training is also important, said Dr. Virginia Sayles, associate dean of the office of Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. UM-Dearborn's Computer Careers program was the brainchild of Inatome, and the program is supported by Inacomp Computer Centers.
 Sayles said students should keep these factors in mind in choosing a school for basic or advanced computer courses:
 -- Class size. At UM-Dearborn, classes are typically limited to about 18 students, Sayles said, to allow maximum time for practice on personal computers and more individual instruction.
 -- Duration. Choose a school that spreads the course being taken over a period of several weeks or months. If the course is too compressed, students have a difficult time absorbing and retaining the functions and commands of complex programs, Sayles explained.
 -- Select a computer school backed by an institution or company with a solid reputation, Sayles said. That will help assure that the school has qualified instructors and up-to-date hardware and software.
 -- Shop around and compare rates. At UM-Dearborn's Computer Careers Center, the typical cost for a 30-hour, 10-week course is $495, or about $16 per hour. Some schools charge as much as $30 an hour for comparable courses, said Martin Free, Computer Careers program coordinator.
 Sayles said the course cost at UM-Dearborn is reasonable. "You have to balance cost and quality," said Sayles. "We emphasize maximum hands-on time on the personal computers and limited class size. That's something students should expect."
 In the UM-Dearborn Computer Careers program, students are encouraged to practice on the center's personal computers in their spare time. Free explained, "Many times our students are just getting over their fear of computers. Practicing on their own helps minimize those fears. It is frustrating to have a computer beeping at you, but the instructors are usually around to help out."
 Students should also evaluate their own needs before selecting a computer course, Free said, whether they need skills for a home-based office, for the workplace or specialized skills like programming and desktop publishing.
 "It would be a disadvantage to have students learning on outdated software or from instructors with no practical experience with software," Free said.
 Since the UM-Dearborn-Inacom partnership was formed in 1988, the center's enrollment has grown from 29 students the first year to 450 students in the 1992-93 academic year, Sayles said. The center offers courses ranging from basic word processing up to programming language and computer repairs.
 Inatome said Inacomp Computer Centers' support of the UM-Dearborn Computer Careers program is the kind of private-public cooperation that is vital to providing students meaningful experience. "It is extremely important that students find the right kinds of courses for computer training," explained Inatome, who founded Inacomp Computer Centers with his father, Joseph, in 1976. The company grew from a small storefront operation to a multimillion-dollar corporation. The company merged with ValCom, Inc. in 1991 to form InaCom Corp. (NASDAQ-NMS: INAC), one of the largest computer resellers in the industry.
 "PC-based networks are spreading rapidly, computers are becoming more sophisticated and more portable every day," said Inacom. "It is critical that early in their education students learn to be comfortable with computers."
 -0- 8/31/93
 /CONTACT: Brendy Barr of Anthony M. Franco, Inc., 313-567-5016, for InaCom/

CO: InaCom Corp.; University of Michigan-Dearborn ST: Michigan, Nebraska IN: CPR SU:

LV -- NYOFNS5 -- 7307 08/31/93 06:50 EDT
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Date:Aug 31, 1993

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