A degree from an accredited online university is still a smart investment SALT LAKE CITY — It’s New Year’s resolution time, and adults across the country are looking for ways to make positive changes to their lives. One resolution that can have a positive and lasting impact is completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Earning a college degree nearly doubles lifetime earning potential, and even during the recession, the unemployment rate for college graduates was less than half of what it was for those who had not completed college. For busy adults whose 2013 resolution is to finish their degree, nonprofit Western Governors University (WGU), www.wgu.edu, offers affordable, online degree programs that are recognized by employers for their quality. WGU has more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the high-demand career fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. Courses are developed in collaboration with representatives from each industry to ensure that they meet employer needs. In addition, WGU regularly surveys employers of its graduates to obtain feedback regarding their preparation for their jobs. In the most recent employer survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, 97% of employers said that WGU graduates met or exceeded their expectations, and 95% rated the performance of WGU graduates as good as or better than graduates from other universities. WGU graduates also give the university high marks for academic quality and career relevance. In a recent survey of WGU graduates, 96% said they would recommend WGU to others. This compares very favorably to a national Harris Poll Online survey of new college graduates—just 59% of those surveyed indicated that they would recommend their college to others. WGU graduates also reported that what they learned was more relevant to their careers (82%), versus 65% in the national poll. Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors to expand access to quality higher education, WGU uses an innovative approach to teaching and learning designed to meet the needs of adult learners. This approach, called competency-based education, allows students to earn their degrees by demonstrating what they know and can do rather than spending time in class to accumulate credit hours. Students have 24/7 access to learning resources and can study on their own schedules. WGU faculty members serve as mentors, working individually with students to facilitate their learning and ensure their success. Because students are able to move through courses as quickly as they are able, the average time to complete a bachelor’s degree at WGU is 35 months. Tuition at WGU is affordable, about $6,000 per year for most degree programs, and students may complete as many courses as they are able in any term for the same flat rate. Federal financial aid is available, and WGU also offers competitive scholarship programs. To learn about WGU’s degree programs, financial aid, scholarship programs, and more, go to www.wgu.edu/2013. While many resolutions are being made at this time of year, many will be abandoned or forgotten in just a few months. This year, consider a resolution that can change your future—to finish a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited online university.