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Press Release: South Dakota Scholarships

Scholarships in business and information technology are still available to working adults in South Dakota

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's been 15 years since she attended college, but thanks to a scholarship from Western Governors University, Watertown resident Brenda Norton is pursuing her bachelor's degree in business.

Like many other adult students, Norton said she didn't have time to go back to a traditional university. Working full time, running a small business with her husband and raising two kids left little time for school. "Attending evening classes multiple times a week was not an option for me," said Norton.

So Norton investigated online universities and found WGU's unique competency-based approach to be a good fit. "WGU gives me more flexibility than most online programs," she said. "I usually study at night and on weekends after the kids are in bed."

WGU is a non-profit institution that provides distance-learning for people whose personal circumstances make attending a traditional college difficult. Instead of awarding degrees based on credit hours, or a specific set of required courses, students demonstrate competency through a series of assessments carefully selected to measure knowledge of a field of study. Faculty consists of mentors who advise students on courses and independent study resources that will guide them through the assessment process.

"Our programs are flexible in two important ways," said Robert W. Mendenhall, president of WGU. "Students with existing competencies can use knowledge they already possess to accelerate completion. And our online, mentored approach allows students to incorporate a rigorous program of study into their busy schedules."

As a physical therapist assistant instructor, Norton says she has tried to teach her students the importance of applied knowledge and that's why WGU's competency-based approach appeals to her. "It's a good test of both knowledge and skills," she said. "When I'm done, I know that I'll be able to apply what I've learned in the real world."

Funding for the WGU scholarships was made available through a congressionally directed grant. The scholarships are valued at $800 per six-month term up to $4,000 and scholarships are still available to students pursuing degrees in either business or information technology. WGU offers seven undergraduate online business degree programs and five in information technology.

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