A couple people have asked recently about my experience with WGU so i though i would pass on some info on my experience.
I completed the BS Network Administration Degree in just under 2 years after transferring in credits from my AA.
I finished my associates degree before starting this program and everything transferred so that left an estimated 2 years of classes left complete this degree.
The reason I chose WGU was because along with getting your Bachelors of Science degree you also get a lot of IT certificates along the way. Certs are great to put you in front of other candidates when looking for work. The other factor was I needed to work and this was entirely online so I could work full time and then do school on nights and weekends.
This is also a fully accredited – nonprofit school. It is one of the least expensive bachelor’s degrees you can get.
You don’t need to buy any books. They material is all online (books, videos, labs). I did buy some books as extra reference and sometimes I just wanted to get away from the computer and read and highlight something but they are not required. I also bought some lab gear switches and routers but not needed to pass classes.
The school pays for the cert tests and some of them are over $300 each. They will pay for at least 2 attempts.
Classes are pass/fail. You don’t get letter grades. This can be any issue if you don’t graduate or if you try and transfer credits to finish at a different school. I am told that people moving on to do Masters at other institutions after had not had any problems doing so.
Most of the classes beyond the core are certification classes – they provide the training material and you go to a testing center and take the cert test. If you pass the cert test you also pass the class. +Again you have a new cert!
Other tests are proctored over a webcam. Some are projects you turn in to have graded. Some classes that were internal I found rather easy but most – especially the ones for certification can be very hard.
This is an IT program and IT changes quickly. My degree plan was changed on me from Server 2008 classes to 2012. I received CCNA cert before it was dropped from my degree plan but you can still get if you do the Security track. They are constantly updating the material to stay current. Also this is just part of life in the IT field it is constant learning even after you graduate.
It was hard to get in to this school. They are focused on finding individuals who are likely to graduate. I had to demonstrate that I had several years work experience in the IT field to get in but others have gone and taken the A+ certification to demonstrator to the school that they can self-study. If you don’t have experience in IT then this is how I would recommend starting. Studying for the A+ cert is exactly what you would experience as a student at WGU. You spend time on TechExams.net and find the best study material and then study and take the test. I can get you a waver for the enrollment application fee or there are a bunch of referral threads out on the internet.
It is self-guided and you are on your own to drive yourself and process the materials and test out of the classes. I have been to a traditional 4 year school and I found WGU to be harder in the way that you have to be self-driven because there is no set schedule. You don’t have teachers riding you to turn things in on time and you don’t have a class schedule where you sit there and they teach you.
You do have regular contact with a “student mentor” but they can only do so much to keep you on track. There are also “course mentors” that may be the equivalent of we might think of as a teacher but I rarely ever contacted them because the material is already laid out and you teach it to yourself.
Don’t be fooled by blogs of students that finished in 6 months. They transferred in a bunch of credits and already had 20 years of IT experience and knew that material. Although that is a great part of the school, you can test out of any class if you know that material already. But the average person will need to go through the normal 2 or more years or studying to finish(if they transferred in AA).
I was hired on at my current company by a WGU Grad and he did the IT security degree. A lot of people in the IT field know of WGU and think of it favorably. I believe this model is the future and I already see other schools coping it so with more time it will become even more accepted. There are some for profit online school that should be avoided because the industry does not respect them but for the most part a bachelor’s degree is just a check box that HR needs to see these days before you can interview.
This was a great experience for 35 year old me but 22 year old me would not have succeeded at this school. That doesn’t say much because 22 year old me did not finish U of Idaho. I love the school but I knew if I did not finish that it would be hard to get another school to take pass/fail credits so I try and let anyone know who asks that was the biggest consideration before starting.
Please feel free to comment with your experience.