By Kristi Geddes
WGU MSN–Education Graduate
#10 — They truly value your experience.
Competency-based learning is amazing. In one of my courses, I needed to learn and write about transitioning to an all-inclusive electronic medical record. We had just barely done this at my place of employment! I still read and gained some new and valuable knowledge from the course, but I also easily applied what I had already learned from my own experience.
#9 — They treat you as a professional.
Valuing my experience and what I brought to the table was a theme throughout the program. I had, and still have, a lot to learn. But I have also learned some very valuable things on the job. Everyone I encountered from WGU treated me with respect; they knew I had something to offer. It helped me go from “I cannot believe I’m back in school …” to “I cannot believe I get to learn this way!”
#8 — You get more bang for your buck.
Okay, so let’s be honest. Paying for school sounds about as much fun as smashing your fingers with an iron. But thanks to the competency-based model of learning combined with flat-rate tuition, if you really are already competent in areas (which you are if you’ve been working and you’ve tried to achieve success in your career), then you can get through as many courses as possible in each semester at no extra cost. Did you catch that? As many courses as you want at no extra cost.
#7 — They care about and respect your time.
What if you don’t want to cram as many courses as possible into one semester? Fine! Great! As long as I did the required minimum (for a master’s program, that was 8 credit hour equivalents per term), I was good to go. Everyone I encountered treated me with respect, and that included respecting my time. I felt catered to during the entire program. They knew I was a busy professional and respected the fact that I also had a life outside of work and school. If information was going to be discussed at a special live session during a time I had to work, or during my son’s soccer game, or during my sleep after a night shift, I was emailed the information and still had the chance to feel like I had been part of the live experience.
#6 — They utilize technology so you can too.
Because WGU uses technology to improve the learning experience, I could use technology to my advantage during the whole program. I could study while I watched my kids play at the park. I could study while my husband drove our family to Grandma’s. Of course I did the vast majority of studying in my own home, but having things accessible on the go was amazing. If this isn’t something that gets you excited and you value a textbook in your hands, have no fear. The information about which books to buy (if you want a hardcopy—e-texts are provided as part of your resource fee!) is given to you on the first page of each and every course.
#5 — There are people and resources for everything you can imagine.
Okay, I’ll admit it: I might have abused the live library help more than once. The library is incredibly easy to use on your own, but the live chat help is astounding. “Hey, I read an article and I forgot to write down the name of the authors and I don’t want to sift through even three choices today—so, will you find it for me?” And they do—with a smiley emoticon to boot. My first time taking an assessment at home, I was a little apprehensive. But even after I had read the very clear instructions online, a live proctor walked me through every step. It was like this every time I encountered something new or interacted with anyone at the university—help where I needed it, when I needed.
#4 — Everything is user-friendly and self-explanatory.
Like I said, there are people and resources for absolutely everything. But because WGU values their students and their students’ time, there were not many questions to be had, really. All of the assignments had clear expectations. The courses of study are clear and simple to navigate.
#3 — You get very quick feedback about assessments.
Sometimes, the feedback about whether you passed an assessment is instantaneous. Sometimes it isn’t. But the longest wait I experienced to find out if I passed an assessment was around five days. The longest. Yes, please! And when you turn in an assignment, you can see where you are in line to be evaluated, so it gives you a good idea of how long before you know if you’ve passed. This soothed my apprehensive nature, and even if you don’t have an apprehensive nature, you’ll love this feature.
#2 — They give you your own personal cheerleader.
You heard me: your own personal cheerleader. You probably have people in your life who care and are concerned about your progress in school. But your program mentor is a faculty member who actually understands what you are going through as you progress through your courses. He or she will check in with you, give you pep talks if needed, share in the excitement of another course being completed, or give you some space if you need it. Your program mentor helps you stay on track so you achieve your goals. You may be thinking that you don’t need your own personal cheerleader. But I bet you would say you do want your own personal advisor who makes sure you are happy with the program and courses and are getting all the help you need to be successful. Your program mentor is your cheerleader, your advisor, you go-to gal or guy during the program—it’s a relationship that is wonderful and rich.
#1 — That feeling of accomplishment you are hoping and envisioning you’ll have when you are done? It’s even better than what you are imagining.
It’s not going to be easy to earn your degree. Even with all the help and resources WGU offers, it’s still a lot of work. But I’ll tell you this right now: All of that time and effort you dedicate to earning your degree is so very worth it. You’ll feel so happy when you are done that you might just sit down and write a top 10 list about why everyone should attend Western Governors University!