Degree Quest: Day 16

As of last night I’ve done 30 credits worth of college courses through Sophia Learning, which is all I wanted to do there before applying to Western Governors University and transferring those credits in there. The degree I want, a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration in Management, is 122 credits total, so I’m now 24.59% of the way there, or a full quarter. Yes, that’s right, after only 16 days of work I’ve knocked out a full year of a four-year degree.

Traveling toward my degree at a rate of 16 days inside, one year outside, I begin to feel almost a little bit like Cooper in “Interstellar”. Hehe.

Today is day 17, but I only count up to day 16 because as of today I’m no longer doing any coursework, from now until I start at Western Governors University. Their next start date is October 1, and from what I’ve read about the lead time they need with regard to sending in transcripts (Sophia might take until next Tuesday to have my official transcripts ready…), I should have everything ready in plenty of time to start on October 1.

Truthfully, I’ve proven able to attain the 30 credits, my first year’s worth of a bachelor’s degree, in much less time than I expected; I thought it might take up to 2 months when I started with it, but it was close to 2 weeks. Sophia’s tests are open-book, which helps speed things through considerably, but it is nevertheless a substantial amount of material to work through. Indeed, I’ve found the sheer volume of material more challenging than the difficulty level.

Will that change when I start working on my next three “years” worth of material at WGU? Perhaps not. Reading through their student guide for the BSBA in Management, the difficulty of the underlying concepts seems rather comparable to the Sophia courses I’ve taken. Indeed, there’s substantial overlap between what’s covered at WGU and the Sophia coursework I’ve already done, making me go this morning when reading it over “Boy, those Sophia courses were better-quality than I thought they were!”.

In addition, the Project Management course at WGU, which I’ll be substituting with the Project Management course at Sophia I took, is near the end of the “standard path” for their BSBA degree program, suggesting that it’s one of the more difficult courses. It was one of the harder courses at Sophia too, but I was able to absorb all the material and pass it in a short time with no problem. If that’s some of the hardest material I’ll be encountering, and from what I’ve seen on Reddit and from the WGU course catalog it looks like it will, then it shouldn’t be much trouble at all for me to complete the entire bachelor’s program in one six-month term.

Honestly, I’d estimate based on everything I’ve seen that I may well complete it all within three months; from October 1, that takes me to around Christmas. That’s a nice thought: the completion of a bachelor’s degree as a Christmas present to myself.

Afterwards I intend to go on to the WGU MBA program as soon as possible, and to complete that as quickly as possible; it’s the degree that I’ve really been wanting going into the program (for me the BSBA is just a prerequisite), and it directly builds on what you learn in the undergraduate program, so I think doing it immediately after my BSBA is the obvious choice.

Especially since I’m deathly afraid that this opportunity won’t be available anymore if I wait to grab it. I think I feel that way (well, I’ve always felt like that since childhood, but it’s much stronger nowadays) because of my experience during the lockdown, the knowledge burned in the back of my mind forever that anything I care about might be snatched away from me at any time without warning. Well, that’s a cheerful thought. Ha!

One great virtue of my chosen path toward an MBA is that it’s very affordable. My Sophia membership costs me $99 a month; since August 2022 is the only month I’ll have it, the cost for my 30 credits attained so far comes to $3.30 per credit. For comparison, a CLEP exam, touted by many (myself included!) as a cheap way to get college credits, costs $89, coming to $29.67 per credit; compared to what I’ve done with Sophia that looks like a rip-off! Even worse is normal college tuition; even an in-state university costs $10,400 a year, or (assuming 30 credits per year) $346 per credit, let alone an out-of-state university at $26,820 a year, or $894 per credit, let alone a private university at $36,880 a year, or $1,229 per credit. Yikes. Compared to a median private university I’ve paid 0.26% as much tuition, a savings of 99.73%. Good god.

Alas, Sophia is an exceptionally good deal. Western Governors University charges $3,775 per six-month term. Assuming I complete my 92 remaining credits there in that time, that will come to $41.03 per credit. That’s actually cheaper, by the way, than the “Big Three” schools that accept virtually unlimited credit by examination (there are additional costs beyond just taking the CLEP, DSST, etc. exams).

The cost for my entire bachelor’s program, therefore, should be $3,874, or $31.75 per credit. Not bad at all. That’s a savings of 90.82% compared to the median in-state college, 96.45% compared to the median out-of-state college, and 97.41% over the median private college.

The MBA program at WGU costs $4,730 per six-month term (why that’s so much higher than the bachelor’s business program I’m not sure, but whatever). The credits attained aren’t really comparable to a bachelor’s degree (since there are many fewer credits required for a master’s degree), but for the sake of completion I’ll note the program consists of 11 courses amounting to 34 credits total, so $139.12 per credit. Substantially more expensive than the bachelor’s program, but very cheap compared to other MBA programs. The average MBA costs a whopping $66,000, so the cost per credit (assuming 34 credits) amounts to $1,941 per credit. *screams in terror* Even no-name state schools’ MBAs run around $20,000, so you’re still talking about $588 per credit.

WGU looks like a steal next to pretty much any other option, at least for a student who’s paying sticker price out-of-pocket and can work fast. That’s not to say a top MBA program is a rip-off; far from it. Even though it costs around $200,000 (!) on average all-in, the opportunities such a program affords you dwarfs even that monstrous tuition (think: mid-six-figure jobs). But I’m not interested in the particular lifestyle that option demands, I’m not interested in relocating near any business school so I can go there in-person, I’m certainly not interested in paying $200,000 for any degree, and in any case I wouldn’t have a prayer of being let in any of these top business schools anyway.

If you’re choosing between a top MBA program and a WGU MBA, yeah, go to the top program; it’s a no-brainer. If you’re choosing between a no-name state university MBA and a WGU MBA, I’d honestly advise you to go for the WGU MBA, as its comparably prestigious, opens at least as many doors, and is a lot cheaper.

Back to my program, adding in the cost of the MBA, I anticipate I’ll be spending a grand total of $8,604. Which for me is a lot of money, but for both a bachelor’s and a professional degree it’s a steal. I want it just to have it, as a personal accomplishment and as an investment in myself; after all, a lot more doors will be open to me with a bachelor’s degree and an MBA than without one, and who knows when I might want or need to step through them? Best to have them in my back pocket, just in case, and while they’re available, while I can pay for them, and while I can study for them, why not strike while the iron is hot right now?

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