This interview features Natalie Mulcock, a mentor in WGU's College of Business. In this interview, we’ll find out her favorite thing about being a mentor and about how her dad inspires her on a daily basis.
WGU: What is your background? How and when did you decide to become a mentor at WGU?
Natalie Mulcock: After working for the University of Phoenix for 5 years, I sought out a similar position for another accredited university that offered me the opportunity to work from home. I had just become a mother for the first time and wanted to spend time at home, but I also wanted to continue to use my education and stay in the work force. I discovered WGU in 2008 and it was the perfect fit for me!
WGU: Wow, so you have worked at one online college or another for quite some time! What do you feel the advantages are of an online university such as WGU?
Natalie Mulcock: Flexibility – in several facets. First, students have the ability to work on their school work whenever they find the time. 85% of my students have full time jobs and could not make a traditional school schedule work with their job schedule.
WGU allows students to complete their work at 3am, 6pm, on the weekends and even on holidays. Students really have no restrictions about when/where they can work on their assessments.
Second, students are not limited to a certain number of competency units in a term. While students are required to complete a minimum number of units, they are not limited to that number. This means that my motivated students can complete 2 terms worth of assessments in 1 term, or even more. Not to mention the fact that students play a flat rate tuition so it’s cost effective to maximize one’s dollar and complete as many assessments as you’re able to in a term.
Thirdly, the competency based model allows my experienced students to show their competence in certain subject matters and then move along very quickly to a new assessment. This is a huge draw for many of my students who have years of real world experience, but no diploma!
Lastly, the Mentor model is genius! Having attended several universities, I never imagined there might be something different. When I reflect on my schooling, both undergraduate and graduate work, I can count on ONE hand the number of times I spoke with a counselor about my program, courses, opportunities, future, etc . . . These are things that my students and I talk about EVERY week. The Mentor model gives each student a personal connection with the school and their program. Mentors and students often become friends, so even attending school at a distance can feel comfortable and enjoyable, not remote and detached. Students receive tips and advice on each individual assessment and individual guidance. Mentors provide students with the one-on-one attention they often seek, but rarely ask for.
WGU: Well, it sounds like there are a number of advantages to taking classes online! What is some memorable advice that you have received in your life with regards to your career and succeeding?
Natalie Mulcock: Something I heard once at a WGU conference, and have now used with ALL of my students; I never let students quit on a bad day. I tell students (and myself for that matter), you can’t quit something after something bad just happened, you will always regret it. I tell my students to call me back on a day when they just passed a test, or finished an assessment or received a great piece of news – and if they still want to quit then . . . then I’ll let them. It’s great advice and it keeps most of my students in their program until they reach their goal – GRADUATION.
WGU: That’s great advice. Now, what inspires you on a day to day basis to the best mentor you can be?
Natalie Mulcock: My dad! My dad didn’t complete his Undergraduate degree until he was in his 40’s. He never needed the degree before then, but when he found himself out of work at 40, with no degree, I saw him struggle. I was so proud of him, watching him put in all the time and effort necessary with going back to school and I remember how difficult it was. I realize that many of my students are in the same boat and most of them need a cheerleader. My dad couldn’t have done it without the support of his family, and I think of my students as my family. I imagine that I might be all that student has, cheering them on, and that motivates me to be the best mentor I can be.
WGU: Wow, that’s wonderful! So, how has mentoring students earning an online business degree at WGU affected your life?
Natalie Mulcock: Mentoring has allowed me into the lives of so many individuals all across the country. I see the struggles and the triumphs, and I get to mourn and celebrate along with each student in each situation. I think I have become a more sympathetic, appreciative individual. I share stories with my friends and family about my students (names omitted of course) and truly feel like they are a part of my extended family.
WGU: It is great that you are able to learn from and with your students. What is your favorite thing about being a mentor?
Natalie Mulcock: There’s really nothing better than watching someone graduate – someone you’ve worked with and helped along the way. Most graduates are excited about the diploma, but I’m more excited about what the diploma means, or will mean, to them. I see the diploma as endless opportunities and I love hearing what my students have gone on to do once they’ve graduated.
WGU: Graduation day is truly something special! Since you have experience with online classes, are there any online tools or research tips you can give to readers who are thinking about or are currently enrolled in an online university?
Natalie Mulcock: I would always encourage any individual to call in and speak with a Mentor/Enrollment Counselor at any university that they are considering. While the Internet provides a wide variety of information and opinions, I think it’s most important to draw your own conclusions. Having a voice to voice conversation with someone who you will be spending a good amount of time with during the course of your school work, should give you a good feel for whether or not it’s the right fit.
We would like to thank Natalie for her insightful thoughts and inspiration in seeking an online degree.