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I am currently two semesters into my WGU experience. My third semester starts in a few days. I thought I’d take a little time to share what I like about Western Governors University, as well as what I don’t like. If you’re thinking about attending WGU, this post should give you a pretty good idea of whether the school is right for you. So without further adieu, here is my WGU review.
The Enrollment Process
When you ask for more information from WGU, they assign you to an enrollment counselor. This person follows up with you regularly to see how you’re doing and try to get you to complete the steps required to enroll in the university.
I was originally going to major in high school education—science, but I was having trouble with the pre-calculus prerequisite, so after awhile I told my enrollment agent to stop following up with me since I didn’t think I would be attending the school.
A couple of years later, I decided to enroll in the marketing management program. I had to get a new enrollment counselor at that point. The enrollment counselor keeps you on track through the enrollment process, making sure you know what to do next as you request transcripts, apply for financial aid, etc.
Financing Your WGU Education
Speaking of financial aid, it’s worth noting that WGU is very inexpensive. I get a full Pell Grant, and the Pell Grant covers all but about $500 per year. I got a student loan to cover the balance, but after I submitted my new financial aid form, I got an extra scholarship, so I used that to pay off my first year’s student loan. I’ll be getting a new student loan when I start the next semester, but I’m hoping to be able to pay it off whenever I get a little extra money so I can graduate without any student loan debt.
WGU charges per semester, not per credit. So if you complete the minimum 12 credits per semester, it costs the same amount as if you accelerate and complete 20 or 30 credits. The faster you get through your classes, the more money you’ll save.
You do not have to buy textbooks to attend WGU. The texts are all online and are included in the cost of the program. You do have to buy a webcam that meets the school’s requirements. A built-in webcam will not meet the requirements.
The WGU Learning Experience
There are two kinds of classes at WGU: those with tests and those with projects. If you are taking a class that has a test, as soon as you can pass the test you are done with the class. So if you already know the material and you pass the test right away, you essentially test out of the class. For classes with projects, you must satisfactorily complete the project to pass the class. For example, my English Comp 2 class had a project. It was a research paper.
When you start a class that has a test, there is a pre-assessment you can take to see where you are and what you need to work on. I like to take that test first. After you take the test, you can see a report. If you look at the areas you are weakest in, you will find links to the part of the text that covers that material. If you are strong in some areas and weak in others, you might only need to study the material in the areas where you are weak. Or at least pay more attention to those areas as you go through the material.
If you do really well on the pre-assessment and don’t feel like you need to go through the material, you can go straight to the objective assessment. So, in theory at least, it’s possible to get through a class in a single day. The best I have done so far is one class took me a week to get through. The worst was about seven weeks. That was Project Management. I am apparently not meant to be a project manager!
The Learning Materials at WGU
The learning materials for most classes are an online text and a set of pre-recorded video cohorts. For classes with projects, the video co-horts are usually much more useful than the text. For classes with tests, I think it’s important to review both.
There are often live co-hort webinars you can attend as well. I guess this would be great if you have a lot of questions for the instructor, but I prefer watching the pre-recorded cohorts. You can always e-mail your instructor or set up a call if you have questions.
Some of the texts have a read-aloud feature and some don’t. Some of the ones that do are so robotic that I couldn’t stand it and had to read the text anyhow. I very much prefer the ones with good audio.
I had a couple of other issues with the materials. In one class, SEO was defined as a paid service to rank higher in the search engines, which is absolutely wrong. The whole point of SEO is to get your page ranked without paying the search engines.
The other issue I had was that there were a couple of things on the pre-assessment and objective assessment for project management that were absolutely not covered in the text. I went back and looked for them and couldn’t find them. I felt that was unfair, but I still passed the test.
What WGU Lacks
What WGU lacks is engagement, both with instructors and peers. If you want to talk to your instructors, you can make an appointment or attend a live webinar, but there are not regular lectures to attend where you feel like you get to know your instructor.
And if you want to make friends with your peers, you’ll find it difficult. There is very little communication between peers. WGU is best for those who work well on their own. That’s OK for me, but I really had hoped to make a friend or two during the process of earning my degree.
The Mentorship Program at WGU
Every student who attends WGU must have a mentor. The mentors work for the school and check in on you every week or two to make sure you stay on track. I like this because it can provide a little extra motivation for getting things done. If I know my mentor is calling on Thursday to find out how much progress I’ve made, it makes me want to make sure I do what I said I was going to do.
WGU Lets You Learn at Your Own Pace
The best part about WGU is that you can go at your own pace as long as you meet the minimum of 12 credits per semester. I completed 22 credits in my first term and 15 in my second term. At first glance, it looks like I was slacking during the second term, but the truth is that I had a lot more freelance writing work during the second term, so I was working more. I was able to take breaks from my schoolwork in order to get the writing done.
So What Do I Think of WGU?
So what do I think of WGU? My WGU review wouldn’t be complete without my overall impression. Overall, I like the school and I am looking forward to finally earning my bachelor’s degree. I don’t know if Western Governors University is the right school for you, but it’s definitely the right school for me.