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Part of Western Governors University

September 30, 2013

Student Success

Advice from a grad: 10 tips for success at WGU.

Advice from a graduate

By Amber Wiltgen

WGU graduate (B.S. Accounting) and future student (MBA)

When Amber Wiltgen was in her online accounting degree program at WGU, she was able to make excellent use of the online university's competency-based education model to accelerate quickly through her program. After one particularly successful term, Amber's mentor Autumn asked her to jot down her top 10 tips for being a successful student so that Autumn could share them with her other students.

What she came up with was so great, we thought we'd share it not only with Autumn's students, but with the entire Night Owl community. What would you add to this list?

  1. You get what you put in to this program.
  2. Talk to you mentor—your ally and one of your greatest resources in your program. (They really are awesome!) There is so much to say about working with your mentor. Be honest and straightforward; follow through on the commitments you make with them. Look forward to their calls. Listen to the wisdom they have to give about the program. Do not hesitate to tell them if you have a concern, even if it has to do with them. Your mentor is your gateway to doing well with this school.
  3. Set goals, big and small. Daily, weekly, monthly, and for the term. No goal is too small or too big. Some days my only goal was to check the communities. One day it was to write my entire research paper before bed. One week my goal was to not look at anything school-related. I even told my mentor and we set it as my "Commitments for next call."
  4. Find someone you can tell about your progress, and who will hold you accountable for meeting your goals on a regular basis. I would text my best friend every couple of days to let him know how I was doing. When I was stuck, he was the one who continued to tell me to get back to work. It was great having someone to push me.
  5. Momentum is your friend. I found that I was most motivated to work on the next course as soon as I passed the assessment for the previous course. Once you get going it's a lot easier to keep going when you're actually finishing things.
  6. Use all of the various learning resources. There's so much information built in to the course of study (COS). And there's even more in the communities! Watch the "getting started" videos that are usually in the communities. They are usually the groundwork for the best way to approach the course. Utilize any and all outline, templates, and suggested formats provided. It doesn't have to be exactly the same as the template, but those templates are set up so the information is given to the graders in the way the graders want to see it. Look at the task rubrics. That is the last thing I did when turning in an assignment. Make sure you have met all the requirements.
  7. Use technology to your advantage. Being able to access the resources on the go was extremely helpful. I had the majority of my textbooks on my phone. I could read whenever I had downtime. Dropbox and/or Google Drive are amazing to use if you aren't able to be at the same computer all the time.
  8. If you need help, ask. That's what the communities are there for. More importantly, that's what the course instructors are there for. Don't hesitate to e-mail or call the course instructors.
  9. Make time, even when you don't have it. A half hour of reading isn't that hard to squeeze in somewhere. I used timers. I would set a timer for an hour or half an hour and would work on homework for that time. Or I would do it the other way around, do something else for that hour, and then go back to homework.
  10. You can do it!


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