The 5,000th degree was earned by Kyleigh Martin of Cridersville, near Lima, who received her bachelor’s degree in nursing this August. Martin, who has now achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse, discovered WGU after deciding she wouldn’t be able to pay the cost of a traditional, campus-based four-year degree.
She had earned an associate degree in nursing after studying at two community colleges in the region. Then, while working full-time at a Lima hospital, co-workers urged her to consider WGU, where she could receive an accredited bachelor’s degree online, at a good price and at her own pace, without being tied to a strict classroom schedule.
“Though doubtful at first, I followed through on those recommendations. And now I’ve enthusiastically recommended WGU to several of my friends because honestly it is the best way to get a bachelor’s degree,” said Martin. “I felt I got a solid education. They teach a lot about leadership. My faculty mentor and I talked every week, like she was one of my best friends. That is very important.”
WGU was established in 1997 by a partnership of state governors to offer students, particularly adult learners, the chance to go to college while working and caring for their families. In 2018, Ohio became the eighth state to partner with WGU, part of efforts by policymakers to close Ohio’s skills gap with a new pathway for adults to seek careers in such in-demand careers as healthcare and nursing, business, teaching, and information technology. Over its two decades as a pioneer in online higher education, WGU has awarded 200,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees nationwide. Its 5,000th degree in Ohio was awarded little more than two years after state lawmakers partnered with WGU to offer its programs here.
“Advanced education and career readiness have the power to significantly transform lives. The 5,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees WGU Ohio has awarded to hard-working women and men across the state are not only impacting those graduates, but also their families, coworkers and entire communities,” said K.L. Allen, who leads WGU Ohio. “I count that as many thousands of lives across Ohio, all transformed by the power of education.”
While Martin, at 22, is 15 years younger than the average WGU student, she said she appreciates the university’s competency-based education model, which is especially valuable for working adults who must balance their studies with job and family obligations.
WGU students can take advantage of their knowledge and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. Students can enroll at any time. Six-month terms start on the first day of every month and tuition is a flat rate, so students can take as many courses as they want.