By Valerie A. Delleville, Associate Dean, Business Core & Microcredentials
Once upon a time in U.S. higher education, students faced a long journey, where they were only granted a transcript to exhibit all progress prior to degree completion. Graduation produced a diploma and transcript degree conferral as the only summaries of educational attainment, regardless of how many years the process took. The current timeline for post-secondary graduation is bleak, with only 41% of college students graduating within 4 years of beginning a bachelor’s program, and the rates at community colleges are even lower. Furthermore, less than 25% of part-time students make it to the finish line of their program, even when they have twice as long to complete their program. Opportunity costs are significant for delaying graduation, as not only do students pay more tuition for each additional term that they take, but they also delay the ROI of increased salary and job security.
Meanwhile, 2019-2020 transitioned the U.S. from one of the best economies in history to the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression, where 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April, 2020. Reskilling and upskilling is critical to any job search, and the value of education continues to hold true throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported May 2020’s unemployment rates for those with high school diplomas at 15.3%, those with some college or an associate degree at 13.3%, and those with bachelor’s degrees at 7.4%.
WGU knows there is a better way to serve today’s student population. WGU utilizes competency-based education, which allows students to move through their courses as quickly as they master the material. A fully online format allows students to work on their courses whenever is convenient for them, allowing them to get further in their degree program while still fulfilling their other obligations. WGU also offers tuition per six-month term, so students pay the same rate no matter how many classes they take. And there are other, extremely valuable ways that WGU helps students enhance their résumé before they even graduate.
In March 2020, the College of Business launched multiple pathways for students to illustrate relevant accomplishments along their learning journey. Not only can Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) students earn micro-credentials* on the way to their degree, but they may also illustrate their accomplishment as soon as possible upon completion. Students may pursue up to 4 micro-credentials in BSBA dual enrollment, all of which stack incrementally towards completing their BSBA.
Newly launched College of Business micro-credentials include:
· Business Essentials
· Applied Business Skills
· Healthcare Management
· Human Resource Management
· IT Management
WGU’s College of Business awarded over 500 micro-credentials in the first 100 days of launch. Congratulations to our many graduates in 2020! We look forward to expanding business micro-credential offerings significantly in 2020-2021, to include graduate options also.
*WGU defines micro-credentials as a form of credential by an issuing institution to verify, validate and attest that specific competencies have been demonstrated. Micro-credentials are comprised of sequences of achievements that usually align with employer and industry needs. They may be pursued in a standalone format, or they may be subsumed by a larger WGU credential, such as a bachelors or master’s degree.