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When Bill Parisen decided to return school to complete his bachelor's degree, he
was concerned about how to fit education into a hectic life that already included
kids, coaching, and a busy career.
"I wanted to complete my degree at an accredited university, but I needed the flexibility
to study and continue my work at the same time. I just couldn't balance my life
and professional commitments while attending a 'brick-and-mortar' institution two
or three days a week," he explains.
After he researched a number of online schools, he selected WGU. "I interviewed several
of the top online schools. The feeling I got from WGU was different. My enrollment
counselor made me feel really good about the university, its mission, and its concept
of competency-based learning," says Bill.
WGU is the nation's first online competency-based university. Nonprofit and fully
accredited, WGU awards degrees based on the student's ability to prove competency
in a subject area rather than an accumulation of credit hours. The WGU accreditation
is no different than other top private universities in the western accreditation.
Although affordability wasn't a factor in Bill decision to attend WGU (thanks to
HP's generous employee reimbursement program), he points out that WGU is a fantastic
education bargain. In fact, WGU students can expect to spend less than half of what
it would cost them to attend comparable private universities.
WGU turned out to be the right choice for Bill, who liked the flexibility of taking
the courses he needed in the order he wanted based on what projects he was involved
in at work. He also thrived within the university's competency-based model, which
allowed him to use his past experience and willingness to work harder to accelerate
his degree program in order to complete his undergraduate degree. Bill earned his
Bachelor of Science Degree in Business in only 30 months—that's a four-year
degree in a fraction of the time he would have spent completing his degree at a
"traditional" school (and even many other online universities).
When Bill decided the timing was right he decided to pursue his MBA. Despite the
success he enjoyed at WGU, Bill chose to enroll in a top-ranked MBA program at a
traditional brick-and-mortar university. Not long into his degree program, Bill
says he realized two important things. First, the business campus he was attending
was not equipped to cater to graduate students that traveled for business. Second,
the education he was receiving was of no higher quality than the education he had
received at WGU. As a matter of fact, the six-week graduate classes were much easier,
and did not provide the intense learning experience Bill acquired by completing
graduate-level domains at WGU.
"At WGU, it was so easy for life and school to coexist," says Bill. "Comparing WGU
to this top-ranked school made me realize just how excellent the quality of education
and personalization is at WGU. Despite the fact that it was online, I actually felt
more engaged and more motivated to learn at WGU. Plus, I found WGU's professors,
staff, university structure, online learning resources and university library to
be first rate, so I decided to return to WGU."
Bill completed his MBA online
in October 2007. "I received a graduate-level education equivalent
with the best of business schools", says Bill. "WGU is not for anyone who thinks
online education will be easy—or will give them an opportunity to buy a degree.
There are online schools out there that offer that. WGU isn't one of them. There
is no 'getting by' at WGU. If you don't know the material, you don't pass the assessments.
If you don't pass the assessments, you don't graduate. It's that simple. In addition
to communicating with my mentor weekly, completing studies during the week, my weekends
were completely dedicated to instructor led courses offered through WGU and homework.
It was clearly a challenging program. As part of my program, I'm proud to have joined
the elite status of passing the CMBA with other graduate students from top universities."
Today, Bill is focused on growing his HP career as he's done for the past 11 years.
He now works in partner operations, responsible for North America commercial desktop
manufacturing at strategic partner sites.
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