Degree Quest: The Second Leg Looms

Well, here it is: tomorrow, October 1, is when my term at Western Governors University begins and I’ll start the next leg of what I like to call my “degree quest”, a leg which will culminate when I get my Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration — Management. After this second leg I intend to complete a third leg, earning a Master of Business Administration, also from WGU, thus granting me something I’ve always wanted: a bachelor’s and a master’s level qualification.

I’ve chronicled my journey before, starting when I announced the decision in “So Much Fear and Doubt for So Small a Paper”, and continuing with “Degree Quest: Day 4” and “Degree Quest: Day 16”. Tomorrow will be Day 17; I only count days I’m actually in a given program. Yes, I’ve already promoted myself to “some college, no degree” before I’ve even started with WGU. I currently hold 30 credits courtesy of Sophia Learning, which have proven quite useful: a quarter of my bachelor’s degree has been completed for only $99, an unbeatable value.

The WGU Enrollment Process: My Experience

The first thing I did to enroll at WGU was send in my application, and I was immediately contacted by my enrollment counselor, who was nice and very helpful. The next step was to submit my college transcript from Sophia to WGU, so to do that I contacted Sophia Learning on their website’s chat box and had them link my Sophia account with WGU’s College of Business (they’re partners, so the credits transfer seamlessly). The credits showed up at WGU in about a week, and sure enough, all 30 credits were accepted by WGU.

Next up was my “intake interview”, a 30 minute or so phone call with my enrollment counselor, which didn’t prove intimidating at all; it was just a conversation where I was told everything I needed to know about the university and I had the opportunity to ask any questions I might have. Next up was submitting the tuition payment, about $3800 in my case for my first six-month term.

Then I was assigned a “program mentor”, basically an advisor, who I had an introduction call with. Once again, this was just a 30 minute or so phone call where I was told everything I needed to know about the program and how to get started, and I had an opportunity to field any questions I had. I then did the onboarding webinar they had for new students, followed by the orientation course.

Then I did the “course planning tool” they have for each of my first four courses; it’s basically a practice assessment so you can see what you already know going into each course. Some students find it superfluous, but so far I’ve found it very useful. My results so far are very promising for my ambition to accelerate enough to complete the rest of my degree in my first six-month term, and my mentor is very supportive of that effort.

Last but not least we went over everything in the term planning call, and that takes me up to where I am today: everything ready to go as soon as my start date comes, which is tomorrow, October 1.

I must say the process to enroll and get started at WGU was quite long, drawn-out, and involved, though really only by comparison with Sophia Learning’s process, which consists of giving them your contact information, charging your credit card, and then you just start taking courses. The people I’ve talked to about it say that compared to a regular brick-and-mortar college or university WGU’s process is comparable to or even more streamlined.

In any case it wasn’t nearly as intimidating or as difficult as I feared from reading up on it online. They’ve been helpful at every turn and provided me a clear picture from the get-go of what I needed to do and how to do it, with the actual process being simple and not at all daunting. I haven’t seen too many sources online detailing the nuts and bolts of the enrollment process, so I’d like to have this blog post available for people to see: if you’re on the fence because you’re skittish about the process, don’t be; just go and do it.

Another thing I appreciate is that, at least in the general business management program, they’re not nosy about what kind of previous work experience you have, your reasons for wanting a degree, or anything like that. So don’t be intimidated by that either.

I think what helped me with admission the most is getting those college-level credits from Sophia Learning before I contacted WGU. For admission WGU requires a high school diploma or equivalent, or you can complete the program of study relevant to your desired degree at WGU Academy. In my case I submitted my college transcript from Sophia with my 30 credits, and they didn’t even ask me for a high school diploma; as is usually the case, if you have college experience your high school experience is irrelevant.

Which is funny to think about; I’ve got multiple copies of my diploma and multiple sealed high school transcripts that I’ve literally never used for anything, and now that I’ve got college credits and will soon (within the year) have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree it’s unlikely they ever will be used for anything.

Go, Go, Go, Go…

Anyway, I intend to hit the ground running tomorrow. My course planning tool results were impressive enough for my program mentor to speculate I might be able to complete some of my first four courses in a couple days. That’s close to the most breakneck pace I achieved at Sophia, but of course there will be some courses that will take longer, even much longer, than that.

I’ve got 30 credits in the bag now, and since my bachelor’s program is 122 credits I’ve got 92 left to go. That’s 30 courses. To complete my program in six months, i.e. by April 1, 2023, I’ll need to average a bit more than one course a week. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to complete my first four courses within two weeks or so (after the first four the mentor has to manually add new courses into my current term, but mine has indicated they’ll be cooperative, even proactive, in that, so that won’t be a problem).

So by October 15 I should have 42 credits down, 80 left to go. If I work fast enough I anticipate I might even be able to complete my degree by the end of 2022, but that’s a stretch goal. To do that I’d need to complete 31 credits per month, or 10 courses per month, i.e. an average of 2 to 3 courses a week. I averaged 4 courses a week at Sophia, some of which were toward the end of WGU’s degree program, i.e. the more advanced material, so such a breakneck pace might be doable, but we’ll see. It won’t be long now…

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