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I Just Graduated From Western Governors "U"... Will You Hire Me?

Earlier in 2008, I asked the question all of us have wondered - "Online Degrees - the Real Deal or Diploma Mills?".  In that post, I ranked the educational options available and encouraged folks that if they were going to get an online diploma, it's still better to get it from a school that has a reputation as a bricks and mortar school as well. 

One of the things I talked about in that post is that learning is a state of mind as much as it is a program.  You just have to be ready to convey the value of what you learned to someone who cares - like an interviewer.  That means an online degree can still work, you just have to be able to communicate what you learned and how you will/have used it.

Still, if you threw up the name "Western Governors University" on a resume, I'm automatically thinking diploma mill that isn't credible - and I'd be wrong.

More on good old WGU from Time:

"Established 11 years ago by the governors of 19 states, the virtual university--which is administered from Salt Lake City--has experienced a surge in admissions as more college students look for low-cost alternatives. Enrollment topped 10,000 last spring, growing at a rate of 40% in both 2006 and 2007.

Some 4 million Americans sign up for a distance-learning course each year, whether at an Online degreeextension of a bricks-and-mortar institution or at an online-only school. Although the latter category is populated mostly by for-profit companies, WGU stands out as a nonprofit funded mainly by tuition and the $20 million in seed money supplied by those 19 governors. To help bolster its reputation, the school obtained accreditation from both regional standard bearers and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the professional body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for certifying teacher-preparation programs. (WGU remains the only online institution that has NCATE's seal of approval.) Such moves were designed to "lend WGU more legitimacy as an educational institution," says Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who helped found the school when he was governor of Utah.

Today WGU is the nation's largest supplier of math and science teachers in urban school districts. The school's success is owed in large part to its competency-based approach. Instead of requiring that students take specific courses or amass a certain number of credit hours--as most colleges do--WGU asks only that students demonstrate mastery of the subject matter via online exams or papers that could take a day or a decade, depending on the student.

At $3,000 per six-month semester, WGU charges a sixth of the average annual tab at private four-year colleges and half as much as an online for-profit like the University of Phoenix, a mega virtual school that has some 200,000 students. And WGU lets you take as many courses as you can fit in a semester, which means some students are able to finish an undergraduate degree in as little as two years."

It's a good story, and while I'm always skeptical of someone getting a full undergraduate degree in two years, WGU should work harder to get the word out to recruiters and HR folks, so we don't penalize the graduates of their institution.  I'd start with the fact that WGU remains the only online institution that has NCATE's seal of approval.  Also, if you're going to get a degree from on online school, it makes sense to get it in a trade where there always seems to be a shortage - like pharmacy technician training.

After all, if the University of Phoenix can separate themselves from the online pack, why can't a university founded by a group of governors?

Comments

Kristie

Hi there, considering WGU for bachelors in special education. I live in New Jersey and from the research I've done on the requirements for certification, I'm not sure WGU's pass/fail grading structure will meet NJ's requirements. Are there any teachers on here who have graduated and become certified to teach in the state of New Jersey?

David Smith

Saundra--YES, I have completed MANY classes at WGU! This is why I say... IT'S A DIPLOMA MILL!!!

RZ

I can understand why some would think you really don't learn anything at WGU for a few reasons. I am currently enrolled in Business Management. I was a Frontline Manager for some very big companies in the past. One department did sales in excess of $500,000 a week. The store did over one million a week. Needless to say, I would have to be good at my job to be placed in that department and be the second highest paid in the store. Needless to say, the management program has taunt me next to nothing. It just seems like mountains of useless material to plow through just to take a 50 question exam at the end. Then you're totally in the dark on what questions will be asked. The material does not relate to real life situations, in the field, at all. so all I can say is, if you can accept that, then go for it. Don't expect to be good at your job just from reading some books. It really does seem like a scam after a while, but that's not WGU's fault. It's the system. The only thing WGU could do to improve it is, just stick to the most valuable information.

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Joseph

Graduate schools do indeed respect this school as it's fully accreditted. I'll be starting a Master of Software Engineering program at a state university this fall because of my Bachelor of Science in I.T. degree from WGU.I typically work around 50 hours a week. The flexibility of the WGU program made it possible for me to return to school. I highly recommend this school for working adults who are driven. If that's not your profile, I'd suggest looking at other options.

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Warren Green

I just graduated with an Accounting degree from WGU. Many years ago I got a BA in Philosophy from the University of Alabama. I did drink a lot. The day I left campus I wasn't sure of the difference between Aristotle and Air Wick.

I entered WGU not knowing the difference between a debit and a credit. I left eating journals, breathing depreciation, and sh#%#ing balance sheets.

It's rigorous but worth it if you're organized and motivated.

Warren Green

Sorry to double-dip but I wanted to reference what "Thomas" said above. In some respects he is right. If you don't know or can't learn how to learn on your own then WGU may not be right for you. Distance education has been around for more than 100 years and actually started in Brick and Morter institutions. That's how people in prison in the 1930's could earn a law degree and how kids that grew up in the outback could get degrees from universities in Sydney.

The Internet gave that concept a new dimension but the underlying framework is still the same. You have to learn a Hell of a lot on your own. WGU is like that. It is a tough distance learning curriculum with the compliment of rapid speed interaction with professors and administrators. You can interact with your course mentors as much as you want but you have to be patient some days and smart enough to take advantage of your time on the phone or email with them.

To the person that said they got the answers from their mentor I have to laugh. At Bama I saw female students cozy to graduate assistants every day to get better course Intel. That kind of process is uniquely familiar to B&M campus colleges.

Your bigger concern at WGU will be not flunking out because you couldn't get by a particularly difficult upper-level class.

WGU = Not easy. Not a diploma mill. And not for everyone.

Rob H.

ha...I had forgotten that I had posted a question in September 2015. Fast forward to December 2017 and I am finishing my Capstone for my Business Management degree. Considering the two years it took me to complete my degree, I can now say this, 1."Going to school" at WGU takes self discipline - if you need outside motivation rather than inner determination, you will have a harder time. 2. Tests can be difficult - there are no gimme's and the camera (provided by WGU) is used to sweep your area to be viewed by the proctor before the test and it stays on you and your computer the whole length of the test and 3. The various mentors will give you a helping hand (in the form of guidance) but they assuredly will NOT give you a hand-out....
My BS in Business Management has been earned.

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Lucie

I attend WGU, and am in my second term. I previously attended Ashford and had to review/relearn every class I took there since most of my grades at Ashford consisted of writing ONE discussion post a week and responding to others’ posts. Sometimes those posts were classmates plagiarizing my post verbatim. After bringing this clear violation of academic honesty to the instructors’ attention on 3 or more occasions and nothing being done, I withdrew. A friend who worked in online education administration at an entirely separate institution recommended I check out WGU, so I did. I also researched it’s accreditation. That is what you must do as a responsible adult. Anyone can write a review online (myself included) but if you know what career you’re pursuing then check what accreditation is recognized by employers or for obtaining the certification you’ll need to get there. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! (If you can’t put forth at least this level of effort, how are you going to earn a degree?) That being said, After checking with my state’s Dept who issues professional licenses to be sure the regional accreditation WGU holds is accepted, I applied. They made sure I understood I would have to work hard, and I have. But every course I’ve taken has had a variety of resources to help me learn the material. I have to pass a preassessment before I am approved to take the objective assessment. When I take the test, it’s on a WGU-issued webcam, proctored by a live person, to whom I must show my entire workspace (360 degree view) as well as my state-issued photo ID.
Last week someone from Ashford called to see if I wished to go back. No. I think I even lost a few transfer credits when I started WGU. I truly do not care though because I racked up $18,000 of debt there. Now I’m spending less than $7,000 a year and truly feel I am learning so much more. Enough that when someone else studying accounting has a question I can explain the concept to help them. To me, that is demonstrating competency. Sometimes I worry an employer will hold it against me that my degree was online, but looking at my LinkedIn network and at jobs being posted I already see plenty of WGU alumni in those companies, which eases my mind. No, I don’t work for the school. No, they don’t pay me to write any of this. And frankly, no, it doesn’t matter to me if you enroll or even believe me. The answers to your questions are all out there. Do your research, go to the source, ask the state, ask the employers and recruiters, and ask the school anything you like. Just please think before you rely on blanket statements on the Internet labeling a regionally accredited non-profit private institution a “diploma mill” or anyone claiming to work there but unwilling to divulge their name to verify the claim. WGU has a Facebook page and their employees are free to post on social media so there’s no need whatsoever to remain anonymous.

Jami

Anyone ever figure out if Va takes WGU to sit for CPA exam?

Hannah

Depending on what you want to learn you can go to WGU, but employers want a known 4 year degree from an accredited college and considering what I‘m going back to school for WGU won’t work for all educational paths. One guy with a decade of experience in IT loved it and decided not to work anywhere else. Having networked I find there are a lot of outdated materials in IT/Cyber Security/Masters programs at WGU.
There’s the concern about legitimacy since it’s only a pass/fail university with no GPA. If you need or want an internship they still ask for your GPA by the way. I asked a potential employer and they flat out told me that WGU grads are not hired nor are they considered for internships.

My current employer does not hire anyone with a degree from WGU due to the fact their people just aren’t prepared. One former coworker was fed up with constant certification tests where he employer fights against her for reimbursement while my employer easily reimburses me. Why? Her tests are tied up in her tuition! You also can’t transfer from WGU to any other college or university at all. Since my goal is for a managerial position in IT this university was not going to work and I’m glad I chose not to go. I called three colleges in Texas, two in Georgia, and three in Oklahoma. They all said the same thing. They would not accept credit for any classes or degrees from WGU due to the fact that they are not accredited the same, do not have a GPA scale and that clinched it. If you don’t believe me call around to community colleges, universities, and colleges that you may be considering. Maybe they have changed in 2020 but I can’t take that risk. The fact that the community college where I lived now would take my AP and CLEP scores, transcripts from other colleges was encouraging. WGU’s counselor told me they wanted me to start over from my 3.8 graduating GPA in college and that was frustrating. I had two classes they gave credit to but other colleges/universities/community colleges will accept 30 hours or more using the CCNS alone! Granted brick and mortar institutions do require a minimum number of credits to earn a degree from them (usually 24 credit hours in the major), but WGU just wants you to start at ground zero and when they tout themselves as being for working adults there is something not adding up.

I’ll wait, take more CLEP tests, and go to some night classes while I will be reimbursed for my courses instead. I need to have more than a pass/fail decision for my future and find their evaluation unrealistic and at odds with the real world. Those students deserve more. I saw what one coworker was doing in their degree course at WGU and it had outdated information, course information was incomplete, and that’s not something I was willing to take a risk doing. With a brick and mortar school you have networking opportunities that are more effective being in person. They also have job placement assistance and WGU does not. Complaints about mentors/teachers being absent, not explaining pass/fail “grades” and general lack of feedback is not what I wanted. Many publications are also Mormon based that tout WGU and I want no affiliation with a cult that uses child labor. WGU is based out of Utah. The reviews that are positive are PAID.

When talking to a recruiter from WGU they did everything they could to not answer my questions, skirted around the subject, and generally would avoid acknowledging that you can transfer in limited credits into WGU but you can never transfer out. I already have a Bachelor’s degree and would like a Master’s but not from WGU. If your career course is similar please do extremely thorough research because for every stellar PAID review of WGU I meet people who have serious complaints about it concerning this criteria. If your employer requires a certain accreditation for tax purposes in order to reimburse your tuition upon passing classes nail down the details with HR, the department that oversees reimbursement, and ask questions. $5,250 is the maximum tax write off for companies (and you) but if you take CLEP tests you have better odds of finishing with a high GPA while unloading credits that may be distracting. You don’t need to take comp and lit yet again, basic math classes, history and anything else that can save you precious time and money.

If WGU worked for you that’s great but it’s not a one solution fits all and it is for profit with creepy Mormon connections. The medical courses have had very bad reviews from nurses, accounting and IT as well. It’s your time and money and if I’m paying it had better offer resources I can access that are cutting edge. Too many people I talked to in person complained about access being cut off, payment errors, class curriculum being redundant or missing information. There’s no excuse for that. When comparing their course tracks with brick and mortar they leave a lot to be desired.

As a working adult I can’t take that chance with loans, my time, and my career end goals. I hope this has helped someone out in making the right decision for them when considering their future goals.

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