Well this is one nice post
Actually, I'm allso stuying the CCNA Exploration v4 and I've already passed the first one with a letter of recommendation! If you assist to some classes of Network Fundamentals you will pass the first and second CCNA with no problems.
If you can lay your hand on a networking lab that will make things far easier. Our first practice was to make a few rj-45 and try them out with the routers of the lab (I was afraid that thing may blew up xD).
My method to prepare the test was this:
- Get some notes of the certificates you're studying for. If you have some friends in the college that may simplify your task a bit
- Practice. This is the basis of every subject. If you can't access to the material (such as routers and that stuff) then have packet tracer and wireshark as close as you can, those little gadgets will be your best friends.
- Youtube. This may sound kinda lame, but in youtube edu I found a few videos that helped me out with networking, specially with routing protocols.
- Ask as much as you need. I have to met anyone that born knowing everything. Around internet there are a ton of podcasts and forums, fell free to ask if you have some problem that you could not resolve by yourself.
Good luck with your certifications!