Graduate Profile

Bill Parisen with Hewlett Packard Company Receives His Second WGU Degree

Bill Parisen

When Bill Parisen decided to return school to complete his bachelor's degree, he was concerned about how to fit education into a hectic life that already included kids, coaching, and a busy career.

"I wanted to complete my degree at an accredited university, but I needed the flexibility to study and continue my work at the same time. I just couldn't balance my life and professional commitments while attending a 'brick-and-mortar' institution two or three days a week," he explains.

After he researched a number of online schools, he selected WGU. "I interviewed several of the top online schools. The feeling I got from WGU was different. My enrollment counselor made me feel really good about the university, its mission, and its concept of competency-based learning," says Bill.

WGU is the nation's first online competency-based university. Nonprofit and fully accredited, WGU awards degrees based on the student's ability to prove competency in a subject area rather than an accumulation of credit hours. The WGU accreditation is no different than other top private universities in the western accreditation.

Although affordability wasn't a factor in Bill decision to attend WGU (thanks to HP's generous employee reimbursement program), he 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.

WGU turned out to be the right choice for Bill, who liked the flexibility of taking the courses he needed in the order he wanted based on what projects he was involved in at work. He also thrived within the university's competency-based model, which allowed him to use his past experience and willingness to work harder to accelerate his degree program in order to complete his undergraduate degree. Bill earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business in only 30 months—that's a four-year degree in a fraction of the time he would have spent completing his degree at a "traditional" school (and even many other online universities).

When Bill decided the timing was right he decided to pursue his MBA. Despite the success he enjoyed at WGU, Bill chose to enroll in a top-ranked MBA program at a traditional brick-and-mortar university. Not long into his degree program, Bill says he realized two important things. First, the business campus he was attending was not equipped to cater to graduate students that traveled for business. Second, the education he was receiving was of no higher quality than the education he had received at WGU. As a matter of fact, the six-week graduate classes were much easier, and did not provide the intense learning experience Bill acquired by completing graduate-level domains at WGU.

"At WGU, it was so easy for life and school to coexist," says Bill. "Comparing WGU to this top-ranked school made me realize just how excellent the quality of education and personalization is at WGU. Despite the fact that it was online, I actually felt more engaged and more motivated to learn at WGU. Plus, I found WGU's professors, staff, university structure, online learning resources and university library to be first rate, so I decided to return to WGU."

Bill completed his MBA online in October 2007. "I received a graduate-level education equivalent with the best of business schools", says Bill. "WGU is not for anyone who thinks online education will be easy—or will give them an opportunity to buy a degree. There are online schools out there that offer that. WGU isn't one of them. There is no 'getting by' at WGU. If you don't know the material, you don't pass the assessments. If you don't pass the assessments, you don't graduate. It's that simple. In addition to communicating with my mentor weekly, completing studies during the week, my weekends were completely dedicated to instructor led courses offered through WGU and homework. It was clearly a challenging program. As part of my program, I'm proud to have joined the elite status of passing the CMBA with other graduate students from top universities."

Today, Bill is focused on growing his HP career as he's done for the past 11 years. He now works in partner operations, responsible for North America commercial desktop manufacturing at strategic partner sites.