My question is, given my novice status, and Microsoft's official requirements for the MCSE course (12 months working in the networking dept of a company, administering W2K, etc.), can this course be completed in 6-9 months by someone who barely knows what a mouse is?
I believe you've already answered the question by the way you're asking it. But strictly in term of Microsoft's stated requirements, you would also fail to meet them purely on the basis of experience and background knowledge. My advice is to either figure out a way to give yourself some more time to learn and pracice, or perhaps to adjust your career direction somewhat (perhaps, for example, by getting and MCSA first, then working for a while, and then returning to finish the MCSE when you've got some real world workplace experience to help leaven your classroom learning and lab experience.
This was first published in March 2004