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The tipping point: what led some WGU students to go back to school

Nov 21, 2018

Making the decision to go back to school, given the job and family obligations many adults have, is a difficult one. Nationally, about 73 percent of WGU students work full time (that figure is 75 percent in North Carolina).

WGU recently asked students what was the moment they decided to make a change and go back to school. Following are illuminating and inspiring responses from some of them in their own words. Perhaps you see yourself or someone you know in these responses.

“I had been trying to figure out how to earn more money and had just been rejected for a second job. I am in a non-licensed teaching position with limited hours now. But I love my job. My co-workers have encouraged me over the years to go back to school to get licensed to teach. I had made every excuse in the book because I thought 45 was too old to go back. The moment I made the choice was the day the shootings happened at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. I had had enough and thought ‘I want to make a difference no matter how big or how small.’ So I inquired on the WGU website, got a call immediately, and am now in my second term studying elementary education. I can’t wait to begin my career as an official educator. And no, 45 is not too old to go back to school.”

– Maria H.


“The moment I decided to go back to school has been one of the most impactful days of my entire life. I woke up that morning and checked my email. I received another rejection letter for a job. I sat there that morning and reflected about what I had done and what I was doing. At 33 years old, I had no college education, no plans of what I want to do, and a job that was not paying me what my time was worth. I felt stuck. I had seen advertisements for WGU on the internet and started researching. It was the perfect fit for me. That was two years ago. Now I am two semesters away from finishing my bachelor’s degree, I have a job that appreciates and pays me what I am worth, and I can honestly say I am happy with the direction my life is going. The day I decided to get my degree was the start to me creating a positive future for myself.”

– Adam S.


“I was working another thankless job, where work conditions were rough (borderline dangerous) and the owner was not paying out bonuses as originally agreed when hired on. I made myself a promise to commit to finishing my degree. Three kids, one with ASD, a full-time job, and enough time to watch TV at night, then I can commit one-and-a-half hours a day to improve my situation. ROI is normally referring to a dollar figure. My return on investment for me was a newfound confidence, and better life and work balance.”

– Asher S.


“When my youngest child started college. I felt that I needed to get my degree before she did. I did it!”

– Amy H.


“It wasn’t an ‘exact’ moment, more like a consistent reminder about my lack of degree. I started right out of high school, but had to drop out due to financial reasons and life in general. I worked my way up the old-fashioned way, but along the way I kept hearing the negative comments regarding my lack of education. I was constantly being ignored and not listened to, all due my lack of degree (stated as a reason point blank). I really decided to go back when I determined I had to leave that toxic culture and the only way to do so was to get a degree and get out.”

– Nicholas V.


“While looking at my paycheck thinking this can’t be it ... ‘how am I supposed provide for my family like this?’ I knew there had to be more ... and there has been thanks to WGU.”

-    Pedro O.


“Being passed over for a promotion and realizing the candidate, my new manager, had an MBA. Mentors had encouraged me over the years. I never thought I’d go back to school at the age of 50 in 2016! I wasn’t ready for the promotion then, but I was this year. The position requirements were revised to include having an MBA and I was promoted in August. So grateful to my employer and WGU!”

– Melinda K.


“An employee was in need of coaching and by the look on her face I could see I was getting nowhere fast. Upon arriving home from work, I searched for solutions to improve leadership and discovered the Master’s Leadership program at WGU. Now more often than not an employee will thank me for the coaching they received. Thanks to WGU I have a better quality of life, as do my employees.”

– Wes J.


“I kept stopping and starting in different traditional college settings and learning absolutely nothing from them. After quitting a job where I was constantly being taken advantage of, I decided to change EVERYTHING up. New job. Better health. Start school – and finish it this time! This has been the only school where I actually felt like I was learning.”

– Arlina O.


“The moment came after I had interviewed for a management position at a company where I had been a successful high performer for many years. Although I was qualified from an experience and performance perspective, my academic credentials fell short. I joined WGU one week later. In a few months, I will graduate.”

– Allan B.


“When it was down to me and another guy for a job. They hired him because he had a degree. Ok, so his degree was in dance, but the company said it showed his wanting to learn ... they fired him three months later because he lied about all his computer knowledge and certifications BUT the degree got him the job in the first place. I am 100% for people getting degrees. I have my MS from WGU and am proud of it.”

– Andre P.

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