I'm not sure about the US specifically, but in the UK purely academic courses lag significantly behind current technology, and aren't always reflective of actual practise. Programming courses are good for getting the fundamental principles down, but admin and networking are more hands-on disciplines.
The LPI curriculum is very good as far as it goes, and you can learn it at home and just take the exams, so it's probably worth looking at. Having said that, there isn't a recognised qualification for *NIX administration - the usual job prerequisite is real world experience. Most such jobs also involve servers, rather than desktops. The easy way to get server experience is to run your own
- you can rent a VPS for fairly little, and install whatever you like on it.
The best suggestion that I can give you is to do as much as possible of what interests you, and join an open source project that focuses on something you are keen on - this will expand your knowledge and get you in touch with other people that have the same interests, some of whom will be deeply experienced. If you have a passion and follow it you will learn what you need, and the opportunities will come too.