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Sherice Cameron has always loved science. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Oregon in 1997. After college, she took a job with the Oregon State Police, then served for four years in the U.S. Army. Teaching seemed like the next logical step. She decided to return to school to earn her teaching certificate but was concerned about how to fit education into a hectic life that already included a full-time job and family. It seemed impossible.
"I wanted to get a degree from an accredited university, but I needed the flexibility to study and continue working at the same time," said Cameron. It would have taken me an hour or more to commute to the nearest college campus. I couldn't imagine doing this a couple of nights a week."
At the time, Sherice was working nights as a security guard. After she researched a number of online schools, she selected WGU because the quality of education seemed comparable to other, more expensive teachers colleges—and because the university was approved for Veterans Administration (VA) education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill®.
WGU is also the nation's first online competency-based university. Nonprofit and accredited, WGU awards degrees based on the student's ability to prove competency in a subject area rather than an accumulation of credit hours.
Sherice points out that WGU is a fantastic education bargain. In fact, WGU students can expect to spend less than half of what it would cost them to attend comparable private universities. Because of these modest tuition rates, veterans will generally be eligible for benefits that more than cover the full cost of tuition, fees, and books.
WGU turned out to be the right choice for Sherice, who liked the flexibility of being able to study at night while she worked. She also thrived within the university's competency-based model. Sherice was impressed enough by the Post-baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program in Science to go on to pursue her M.A. in Science Education from the university. She was able to earn both her teaching certification and master's degree in 17 months—a fraction of the time she would have spent attending a "traditional" school or another online university. This she credits to devoting 16-20 hours per week to her studies and support from her faculty mentor.
"Online learning is so self-paced, sometimes you need help getting motivated and staying connected," said Cameron. "WGU's mentoring program and online learning communities make online learning personal. I still email fellow students with whom I became friends. My whole WGU experience was a positive one—one that I'd recommend to other aspiring teachers."
Sherice will take on her first teaching assignment this fall. She will be teaching science and biology to high school students.
GI Bill®; is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
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